320/7–1150: Telegram

The Ambassador in the Netherlands (Chapin) to the Secretary of State

48. For Meeker Legal Division. Today ICJ rendered advisory opinion Southwest Africa case as follows:1

Court decided unanimously that Southwest Africa is territory under international mandate assumed by Union South Africa on December 16 [17], 1920.2 By 12 votes to 2 Union South Africa continues [Page 475] have international obligations resulting from mandate, including obligation to submit reports and transmit petitions from inhabitants of that territory, supervisory functions to be exercised by UN and reference to Permanent Court of International Justice to be replaced by reference to International Court of Justice, in accordance with Article 7 of mandate [and] Article 37 of Court’s Statute.3

Unanimously that provisions of Chapter 12 of Charter applicable to territory of Southwest Africa in sense that they provide means by which territory may be brought under trusteeship system; by 8 votes to 6 Charter does not impose on Union of South Africa legal obligation to place territory under trusteeship; finally unanimously that Union of South Africa not competent to modify international status of a Southwest Africa, such competence resting with Union acting with consent of UN.4

  1. For clarification of this cabled text, see Annex A to Doc. SD/A/C.4/76, September 4, 1950, p. 485. For official text, see International Status of Southwest Africa, Advisory Opinion, July 11, 1950, I.C.J. Reports (1950).
  2. Useful information on the League of Nations mandates system is found in Foreign Relations, The Paris Peace Conference, 1919, vol. xiii, pp. 93 ff., and in Department of State, Digest of International Law (Marjorie M. Whiteman, editor), vol. i, pp. 598 ff. (hereafter cited as Whiteman, Digest). For text of the South West Africa mandate instrument, see U.N. Doc. A/70, October 1946. “Terms of League of Nations Mandates,” or Manley O. Hudson, International Legislation, vol. i, pp. 42–126, passim.
  3. This is a reference to the Statute of the International Court of Justice which was annexed to the Charter of the United Nations, signed at San Francisco, June 26, 1945; for text, see 59 Stat. (pt. 2) 1031 or Department of State Treaty Series No. 993. Article 37 of the Statute reads: “Whenever a treaty or convention in force provides for reference of a matter to a tribunal to have been instituted by the League of Nations, or to the Permanent Court of International Justice, the matter shall, as between the parties to the present Statute, be referred to the International Court of Justice.”
  4. For excerpts from the Written Statement of the United States to the International Court of Justice in the advisory proceeding on the South West Africa mandate, see Whiteman, Digest, vol. i, pp. 601 and 602 and 715 ff. In the statement this Government emphasized that “So far as the United States is concerned … its failure to ratify the Treaty of Versailles should not be considered to invalidate or weaken the dispositions made in the creation and operation of the mandate system.” (ibid., p. 602)