Mandates and Trusteeships

Edward M. Bennett

Mandates and trusteeships have played an important role in the evolution of U.S. diplomacy and perceptions of the foreign policy process. After World War I, the mandate system was introduced at the insistence of President Woodrow Wilson, who believed that indigenous populations in the areas held under colonial rule should be brought either to independence or under benevolent tutorship of the powers holding sway over them. This was part of Wilson's dream to replace the monarchies with democratic republics. Very few new nations actually evolved from the mandate system, and it remained for the trusteeship council emergent from the United Nations structure after World War II to carry on what Wilson began. The mandate name was abandoned in favor of trusteeships in order not to have the stigma of the moribund League of Nations to carry in its baggage. By the end of the 1990s, the membership of the UN reached 187 nations due largely to the work of the trusteeship council's bringing them to nationhood.


Hall, H. Duncan. Mandates, Dependencies and Trusteeships. London and Washington, D.C., 1948. The most comprehensive study of the background, origins, and development of the mandate system.

Leibowitz, Arnold H. A Comprehensive Analysis of United States Territorial Relations. Dordrecht, Netherlands, 1989. An overview of U.S. policy and results in the U.S. dependencies.

Mezerik, A. G., ed. Colonialism and the United Nations. New York, 1964. An academic study of the trust system in the general context of international relations or international organization.

Nevin, David. The American Touch in Micronesia. New York, 1977. Provides a perspective on the U.S. influence in the region.

Pomeroy, Earl S. Pacific Outpost: American Strategy in Guam and Micronesia. Stanford, Calif., 1951. An excellent account of the American concern for strategic position in the Pacific region; it treats the single exception to the general trust system.

Roff, Sue Rabbitt. Overreaching in Paradise: United States Policy in Palau Since 1945. Juneau, Alaska, 1991.

Russell, Ruth B., and Jeanne E. Muther. A History of the United Nations Charter: The Role of the United States, 1940–1945. Washington, D.C., 1958. Useful in tracing the background of the trusteeship principle.

Stuart, Peter C. Isles of Empire: The United States and Its Overseas Possessions. Lanham, Md., 1999. This is the most comprehensive analysis to date of U.S. policy relating to the trust territories and other dependencies.

Temperley, H. W. V. A History of the Peace Conference of Paris. 6 vols. London, 1920–1924. Provides considerable insight on the discussions and development of the mandate question.

United Nations Department of Public Information. Everyman's United Nations. 8th ed. New York, 1968. Provides extensive information on the development and implementation of the trusteeship system.

United States Department of State. The Foreign Relations of the United States: The Paris Peace Conference. 13 vols. Washington, D.C., 1942–1945. Gives the best information on Woodrow Wilson's perspective on mandates.

Upthegrove, Campbell L. Empire by Mandate: A History of the Relations of Great Britain with the Permanent Mandates Commission of the League of Nations. New York, 1954. The most comprehensive work tracing the British adjustment to the mandate concept and the British government's dealings with the Mandates Commission.

See also Anti-Imperialism ; Colonialism and Neocolonialism ; Imperialism ; Protectorates and Spheres of Influence ; Self-Determination ; Wilsonianism .

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