|Thursday, 30 March 2023|
The King-Crane Commission Report, August 28, 1919
III-REPORT UPON NON-ARABIC SPEAKING PORTIONS OF FORMER OTTOMAN EMPIRE
I-PERTINENT ACTION ALREADY TAKEN BY THE PEACE CONFERENCE
To begin with, the action creating the Commission, of which the Commissioners now reporting make the American Section, was taken by the Council of Four. Our instructions were called: "Instructions for Commissioners from the Peace Conference to make inquiry in certain portions of the Turkish Empire which are to be permanently separated from Turkey and put under the guidance of governments acting as mandatories under the League of Nations." The Instructions then go on to say: "It is the purpose of the Conference to separate from the Turkish Empire certain areas comprising, for example, Palestine, Syria, the Arab countries to the cast of Palestine and Syria, Mesopotamia, Armenia, Cilicia and perhaps additional areas in Asia Minor, and to put their development under the guidance of governments which are to act as mandatories of the League of Nations."
So far as concerns Asia Minor, this commits the Conference to two courses of action: Permanent separation from the Turkish Empire of "Armenia, Cilicia, and perhaps additional areas in Asia Minor"; and dealing with these territories under the mandatory, not colonial system.
That this is the deliberate purpose of the Council is further shown by the added statement: "It is expected that this will be done in accordance with the following resolutions, adopted by the representatives of the United States, Great Britain, France, Italy and Japan at a conference held at the Quai d'Orsay on January 30, 1919."
1. Having regard to the record if the German administration in the colonies formerly part of the German Empire, and to the menace which the possession by Germany of submarine bases in many parts of the world would necessarily constitute to the freedom and security of all nations, the Allied and Associated Powers are agreed that in no circumstances should any of the German Colonies be restored to Germany.
2. For similar reasons, and more particularly because of the historical mis-government by the Turks of subject peoples and the terrible massacres of Armenians and others in recent years, the Allied and Associated Powers are agreed that Armenia, Syria, Mesopotamia, Palestine and Arabia must be completely severed from the Turkish Empire. This is without prejudice to the settlement of other parts of the Turkish Empire.
3. The Allied and Associated Powers are agreed that advantage should be taken of the opportunity afforded by the necessity of disposing of these colonies and territories formerly belonging to Germany and Turkey which are inhabited by peoples not yet able to stand by themselves under the strenuous conditions of the modern world, to apply to these territories the principles that the well-being and development of such peoples form a sacred trust of civilization and that securities for the performance of this trust should be embodied in the constitution of the League of Nations.
4. After careful study they are satisfied that the best method of giving practical effect to this principle is that the tutelage of such peoples should be entrusted to advanced nations who, by reason of their resources, their experience or their geographical positions, can best undertake this responsibility, and that this tutelage should be exercised by them as mandatories on behalf of the League of Nations.
5. The Allied and Associated Powers are of opinion that the character of the mandate must differ according to the stage of development of the people, the geographical situation of the territory, its economic conditions, and other similar circumstances.
6. They consider that certain communities formerly belonging to the Turkish Empire have reached a stage of development where their existence as independent nations can be provisionally recognized, subject to the rendering of administrative advice and assistance by a mandatory power until such time as they are able to stand alone. The wishes of these communities must be a principal consideration in the selection of the mandatory power . . .
In every case of mandate, the mandatory state shall render to the League of Nations an annual report in reference to the territory committed to its charge.
The resolutions clearly assert several things:
(1) That in settling the issues of the Turkish Empire, account may rightfully be taken of any "menace" to "the freedom and security of all nations";
(2) That "the historical misgovernment by the Turks of subject peoples and the terrible massacres of Armenians and others in recent years" constitute a special reason for separation of territory, but "without prejudice to the settlement of other parts of the Turkish Empire";
(3) That this separation of territory should be taken as a special opportunity to apply "the principle that the well-being and development of subject peoples form a sacred trust of civilization and that securities for the performance of this trust should be embodied in the constitution of the League of Nations";
(4) That this principle should be carried out through the mandatory system which the remaining resolutions carefully define.
The instructions of the Commission then continue: "And it is agreed that the administration of these mandates shall be in the spirit of the following document which was formally presented to the President of the United States on behalf of the Governments of Great Britain and France":
The aim which France and Great Britain have in view in prosecuting in the East the war let loose by German ambition is the complete and final liberation of the peoples so long oppressed by the Turks and the establishment of national governments and administrations deriving their authority from the initiative and free choice of the native populations.
In order to give effect to these intentions France and Great Britain have agreed to encourage and assist the establishment of native governments and administrations in Syria and Mesopotamia already liberated by the Allies and in the territories which they are proceeding to liberate, and they have agreed to recognize such governments as soon as they are effectively established. So far from desiring to impose specific institutions upon the populations of these regions, their sole object is to ensure, by their support and effective assistance, that the governments and administrations adopted by these regions of their own free will shall be exercised in the normal way. The function which the two Allied Governments claim for themselves in the liberated territories is to ensure impartial and equal justice for all, to facilitate the economic development of the country by encouraging local initiative, to promote the diffusion of education, and to put an end to the divisions too long exploited by Turkish policy.
This is as admirable a statement of the spirit in which mandates should be administered as could be asked, and reflects honor on the two great Allies from whom it originally came.
Taken as a whole, the action of the Peace Conference, in which all the Allies have shared, reflected in the forming of the Commission on Mandates and embodied in the Instructions to the Commission, form a solid basis for the policy to be adopted in Asia Minor. It is no sentimental program, but it is just on the one hand, and considerate on the other. If the Conference proceeds, in its further dealings with Turkey, honestly and strongly and consistently to build on the foundations so prepared, essential justice will be done to all the peoples concerned, rankling wrongs will be set right, and the purposes of the Allies will be just so far vindicated.
And the Peace Conference should not shut its eyes to the fact that vindication is greatly needed just now. For there are set directly over against such a procedure as that now outlined and to which the Peace Conference is in principle and in all honesty committed, the still active policies of the old diplomacy of secret treaties and understandings and of division of spoils among victors. The direct consequences of such selfish and ultimately self-destructive policies are to be seen in all the world today. It is to be feared that some of the highest aims of the Allies in the war have already been well nigh lost because of these policies creeping in, in all manner of "settlements." It concerns the Peace Conference to decide whether the same fateful method is to be followed in Turkey.
NEXT: The dangers of a selfish division and exploitation of the Turkish Empire
PREVIOUS: Report on Non-Arab portions of the formenr Ottoman Empire
BACK: The King-Crane Commission Report