Final Draft of the Mandate for Mesopotamia Presented for Approval Before the Council of the League of Nations
When the Ottoman Empire collapsed during World War I, the European nations whose allied forces had helped to overthrow the Ottomans rushed to claim its former possessions, which included much of the Middle East. However, the long-term disposition of the land was not settled until the newly-formed League of Nations approved a series of "Mandates. " The Mandates provided international legitimization for the occupying forces by instructing the occupying nation to oversee a gradual transition to self-rule according to guidelines established by the League of Nations. In the case of Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq), the Mandate was granted to Great Britain.
Final Draft of the Mandate for Mesopotamia Presented for Approval Before the Council of the League of Nations (1921)
League of Nations
The Final Draft of the Mandate for Mesopotamia for the Approval of the League of Nations:
The Council of the League of Nations.
Whereas by Article 132 of the Treaty of Peace signed at Sèvres on the tenth day of August, 1920, Turkey renounced in favour of the Principal Allied Powers all rights and title over Mesopotamia, and whereas by Article 94 of the said treaty the High Contracting Parties agreed that Mesopotamia should, in accordance with the fourth paragraph of Article 22 of Part I (Covenant of the League of Nations), be provisionally recognised as an independent State, subject to the rendering of administrative advice and assistance by a Mandatory until such time as it is able to stand alone, and that the determination of the frontiers of Mesopotamia, other than those laid down in the said treaty, and the selection of the Mandatory would be made by the Principal Allied Powers; and
Whereas the Principal Allied Powers have selected His Britannic Majesty as Mandatory for Mesopotamia; and
Whereas the terms of the Mandate in respect to Mesopotamia have been formulated in the following terms and submitted to the Council of the League for approval; and
Whereas His Britannic Majesty has accepted the Mandate in respect of the said territories and undertaken to exercise it on behalf of the League of Nations in conformity with the following provisions:
Hereby approves the terms of the said Mandate as follows:
The Mandatory will frame within the shortest possible time, not exceeding three years from the date of the coming into force of this Mandate, an Organic Law for Mesopotamia, which shall be submitted to the Council of the League of Nations for approval, and shall, as soon as possible, be published by it. This Organic Law shall be framed in consultation with the native authorities, and shall take account of the rights, interests and wishes of all the populations inhabiting the mandated territory. It shall contain provisions designed to facilitate the progressive development of Mesopotamia as an independent State. Pending the coming into effect of the Organic Law, the administration of Mesopotamia shall be conducted in accordance with the spirit of this Mandate.
The Mandatory may maintain armed forces in the territories under his Mandate for the defence of these territories. Until the entry into force of the Organic Law and the re-establishment of public security, he may organise and employ local forces necessary for the maintenance of order and for the defence of these territories. Such local forces may only be recruited from the inhabitants of the territories under the Mandate.
The said local forces shall thereafter be responsible to the local authorities, subject always to the control to be exercised over these forces by the Mandatory. The Mesopotamian Government shall not employ them for other than the above-mentioned purposes, except with the consent of the Mandatory.
Nothing in this article shall preclude the Mesopotamian Government from contributing to the cost of the maintenance of any forces maintained by the Mandatory in Mesopotamia.
The Mandatory shall be entitled at all times to use the roads, railways, and ports of Mesopotamia for the movement of armed forces and the carriage of fuel and supplies.
The Mandatory shall be entrusted with the control of the foreign relations of Mesopotamia, and the right to issue exequaturs to consuls appointed by foreign Powers. It shall also be entitled to afford diplomatic and consular protection to citizens of Mesopotamia when outside its territorial limits.
The Mandatory shall be responsible for seeing that no Mesopotamian territory shall be ceded or leased to or in any way placed under the control of the Government of any foreign Power.
The immunities and privileges of foreigners, including the benefits of consular jurisdiction and protection as formerly enjoyed by Capitulation or usage in the Ottoman Empire, and definitely abrogated in Mesopotamia.
The Mandatory shall be responsible for seeing that the judicial system established in Mesopotamia shall safeguard (a) the interests of foreigners; (b) the law, and (to the extent deemed expedient) the jurisdiction now existing in Mesopotamia with regard to question arising out of the religious beliefs of certain communities (such as the laws of Wakf and personal status). In particular the Mandatory agrees that the control and administration of Wakf shall be exercised in accordance with religious law and the dispositions of the founders.
Pending the making of special extradition agreements with foreign Powers relating to Mesopotamia, the extradition treaties in force between foreign Powers and the Mandatory shall apply to Mesopotamia.
The Mandatory will ensure to all complete freedom of conscience and the free exercise of all forms of worship, subject only to the maintenance of public order and morals. No discrimination of any kind shall be made between the inhabitants of Mesopotamia on the ground of race, religion or language. Instruction in and through the medium of the native languages of Mesopotamia shall be promoted by the Mandatory.
The right of each community to maintain its own schools for the education of its own members in its own language (while conforming to such educational requirements of a general nature as the Administration may impose) shall not be denied or impaired.
Nothing in this Mandate shall be construed as conferring upon the Mandatory authority to interfere with the fabric or the management of the sacred shrines, the immunities of which are guaranteed.
The Mandatory shall be responsible for exercising supervision over missionary enterprise in Mesopotamia as may be required for the maintenance of public order and good government. Subject to such supervision, no measures shall be taken in Mesopotamia to obstruct or interfere with such enterprise or to discriminate against any missionary on the ground of his religion or nationality.
The Mandatory must see that there is no discrimination in Mesopotamia against the nationals of any State member of the League of Nations (including companies incorporated under the laws of such State) as compared with the nationals of the Mandatory or of any foreign State in matters concerning taxation, commerce or navigation, the exercise of industries or professions, or in the treatment of merchant vessels or civil aircraft. Similarly, there shall be no discrimination in Mesopotamia against goods originating in or destined for any of the said States, and there shall be freedom of transit under equitable conditions across the mandated area.
Subject as aforesaid the Mesopotamian Government may on the advice of the Mandatory impose such taxes and customs duties as it may consider necessary and take such steps as it may think best to promote the development of the natural resources of the country and to safeguard the interests of the population.
Nothing in this article shall prevent the Mesopotamian Government on the advice of the Mandatory, from concluding a special customs arrangement with any State, the territory of which in 1914 was wholly included in Asiatic Turkey or Arabia.
The Mandatory will adhere on behalf of Mesopotamia to any general international conventions already existing or that may be concluded hereafter with the approval of the League of Nations respecting the slave traffic, the traffic in arms and ammunition, and the traffic in drugs, or relating to commercial equality, freedom of transit and navigation, laws of aerial navigation, railways and postal, telegraphic and wireless communication, or artistic, literary or industrial property.
The Mandatory will secure the co-operation of the Mesopotamian Government, so far as social, religious and other conditions may permit, in the execution of any common policy adopted by the League of Nations for preventing and combating disease, including diseases of plants and animals.
The Mandatory will secure the enactment within twelve months from the coming into force of this Mandate, and will ensure the execution of a Law of Antiquities, based on the contents of Article 421 of Part XIII of the Treaty of Peace with Turkey. This law shall replace the former Ottoman Law of Antiquities, and shall ensure equality of treatment in the matter of archaeological research to the nationals of all States, members of the League of Nations.
Upon the coming into force of the Organic Law an arrangement shall be made between the Mandatory and the Mesopotamian Government for settling the terms on which the latter will take over Public Works and other services of a permanent character, the benefit of which will pass to the Mesopotamian Government. Such arrangement shall be communicated to the Council of the League of Nations.
Nothing in this Mandate shall prevent the Mandatory from establishing a system of local autonomy for predominantly Kurdish areas in Mesopotamia as he may consider suitable.
The Mandatory shall make to the Council of the League of Nations an annual report as to the measures taken during the year to carry out the provisions of the Mandate. Copies of all laws and regulations promulgated or issued during the year shall be communicated with the report.
The consent of the Council of League of Nations is required for any modification of the terms of the present Mandate, provided that in the case of the modification proposed by the Mandatory such consent may be given by a majority of the Council.
If any dispute whatever should arise between the members of the League of Nations relating to the interpretation or the application of these provisions which cannot be settled by negotiation, this dispute shall be submitted to the Permanent Court of International Justice provided for by Article 14 of the Covenant of the League of Nations.
In the event of the termination of the Mandate conferred upon the Mandatory by this Declaration, the Council of the League of Nations shall make such arrangements as may be deemed necessary for securing under the guarantee of the League that the Mesopotamian Government will fully honour the financial obligations legally incurred by the Mandatory during the period of the Mandate, including the rights of public servants to pensions or gratuities.
The present copy shall be deposited in the archives of the League of Nations. Certified copies shall be forwarded by the Secretary-General of the League of Nations to all Powers Signatories of the Treaty of Peace with Turkey.
Made attheday of
Text Citation (Chicago Manual of Style format):
Grossman, Mark. "Final Draft of the Mandate for Mesopotamia Presented for Approval Before the Council of the League of Nations." Encyclopedia of the Interwar Years: From 1919 to 1939. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2000. Modern World History Online. Facts On File, Inc. http://www.fofweb.com/activelink2.asp?
ItemID=WE53&iPin=interwar00769&SingleRecord=True (accessed October 7, 2015).
Primary Source Citation (Chicago Manual of Style format):
League of Nations. "Final Draft of the Mandate for Mesopotamia Presented for Approval Before the Council of the League of Nations." In Grossman, Mark. Encyclopedia of the Interwar Years: From 1919 to 1939. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2000. Modern World History Online. Facts On File, Inc. http://www.fofweb.com/activelink2.asp?
ItemID=WE53&iPin=interwar00769&SingleRecord=True (accessed October 7, 2015).
Other Citation Formats:
Modern Language Association (MLA) Format
American Psychological Association (APA) Format
Additional Citation Information
Return to Top