Book Review: Mandate For Nauru

Mandate For Nauru, League Of Nations

The mandate for the island of Nauru that placed the island, which had previously been governed by Germany, into the rule of Australia, is somewhat more notable for what it does not say than what it says. The mandate itself is extremely short, at only two pages of text, and much of that text is boilerplate. One gets the feeling that those who, in the aftermath of World War I, were responsible for dividing up the colonial empires of the losers (especially Germany) and passing them out the victors did not do a very good job at knowing local conditions and making smart decisions about how to protect the well-being of those on the island. Nauru’s mandate, alas, provides several ways where the lack of awareness and wisdom on a part of the diplomats of the League of Nations ended up causing huge problems for the people of Nauru as well as the well-being of the island nation as a whole. And the shortness of this document demonstrates as well that it does not take a large document to have a large effect on the world, as that is certainly the case here, and something worth reading if the geopolitics of the Pacific is of interest to you.

Among the material on these two short pages are various articles that demonstrate the lack of interest that the League of Nations had in encouraging the well-being and independence of its mandated territories. Mandated territories were to be ruled as part of the integral territory of the nations that governed them, and in the case of Nauru the arming of local citizens except for local defense, the selling of intoxicants, and the arms trade were to either be strictly prohibited or strictly limited. Similarly, even though Nauru did not have the sort of “blackbirding” slave trade that was common in the region because of its geography, the slave trade was prohibited there. Unfortunately, there is no language that states that the mandatory power (which ended up being Australia even though the mandate was given to Great Britain) was required to repay the mandated territory for the resources taken from the island, which in Nauru’s case meant that Nauru ended up as a defenseless island when the Japanese invaded in World War II and did not get properly paid for the phosphate mined from its territories. And all that is a great shame; it is all for the better that Nauru has managed to do alright for itself as an independent country despite these handicaps.

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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2 Responses to Book Review: Mandate For Nauru

  1. Catharine Martin says:

    We’ve seen the brutal effect of colonization when independence is won. Their lands have often been stripped of its resources and the population desecrated. Internal strife is usually the result. Self-governance cannot be transferred effectively to a universally uneducated public; one who has, for decades, only known a life of being told how to live. They rebel but do not know how to handle their newly-found freedom. Freedom requires restraint–the missing ingredient. It appears that Nauru is a rare exception.

    • It certainly would appear so, although Nauru itself has had to deal with the aftereffects of its Phosphate mines being stripped so it has not entirely been able to escape this problem.

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