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their population, or their small size, or their remoteness from the cen-
tres of civilization, or their geographical contiguity to the territory of the
Mandatory, and other circumstances, [they] can be best administered
under the laws of the Mandatory as integral portions of its territory™. In
the former German colonies of Central Africa (B Mandates), the manda-
tory power was expected to perform its function of ˜tutelage™ for a lengthy
period, but nevertheless with certain restrictions that were to be checked
on by the League: guarantees for freedom of conscience; the prevention
of slavery, arms trading and liquor traf¬cking; the restriction of native
military training; and the provision of equal commercial opportunities in
the territory to other League members. Some more general points about
international order were also asserted in Article 23, which stated that all
powers, not just ones exercising a League mandate, were required to en-
sure, among other things, ˜just treatment of the native inhabitants under
their control™ and the freedom of commerce, transit and communications
for all states in their imperial domain.
Although most commentators on the League as an international orga-
nization have concentrated on its collective security system as its most
important element, in some ways the mandates system had an even more
lasting impact on the structure of international order, especially in le-
gal terms. The most important general point about the system is that it
represents a further step towards the internationalization of the principle
of civilization. Prior to the formation of the League, the promotion of
civilization in the non-European world was regarded as the responsibility
of whichever European state happened to be the colonial power in the re-
gion. Some distinctions were made between different European countries
in that regard, but there was no general forum within which concerns
about European maladministration could be publicised and corrected.
To all intents and purposes, each individual European state was per-
mitted to go about the task of civilization in its own way, and was not
answerable to anyone for the consequences: effective criticisms of impe-
rial exploitation typically needed to be made within the home country™s
government (as we saw, for example, with Dutch critics of the culture sys-
tem). In this regard, the mandates system represented a new international
environment within which colonial administration was to be conducted.
The basic features of colonial governance, the division of sovereignty, the
134 Beyond the anarchical society

establishment of individuals™ property rights, and so forth, remained es-
sentially the same, but, as Michael Callahan has observed, ˜the mandates
system had fully internationalized and institutionalized the principle of
trusteeship™; even though this did not formally interfere with the opera-
tion of older imperial systems outside the League™s mandatory regime, it
did transform the outlook of colonial administrators.21 The promotion
of civilization was increasingly the concern of international organizations
rather than imperial powers, and that was a vital step in the direction of
making civilization a central goal in a political and legal order conceived
in more global terms.
Another important consequence of the mandates system was that, by
establishing the principle that the ˜sacred trust of civilization™ was shared
by the entire international community as a whole, it made it much harder
even for the most orthodox modern international lawyers to ignore the
speci¬c practices that had long been involved in colonial administration,
especially the division of sovereignty, and which (as we have seen) were
well known to those lawyers with experience of the operation of such
systems. For many mainstream international lawyers, this was a major
shock to the system. Among the several questions that Lansing raised
about the outcome of the Versailles Conference, for example, this was
one of the most vexatious, and one can perhaps detect a note of hysteria,
or at least querulousness, in his treatment of the subject:
In the case of territory subject to a mandatory, the question therefore arises as
to who possesses the sovereignty of such territory. Certainly not the manda-
tory which derives its authority solely from an agreement conferring upon it a
limited exercise of sovereign rights. Is it then the League of Nations which pos-
sesses the full sovereignty, the exercise of which is delivered in part only to an
agent or trustee? That would seem to be the logical answer, and yet consider the
questions which that answer raises. Does the League of Nations possess the at-
tributes of an independent state so that it can function as a possessor of sovereignty
over territory? Is the League then a supernational world state clothed with world
sovereignty? If the League possesses the sovereignty, can it avoid responsibility
for the misconduct of its agent, the mandatory? If the League is not capable of
possessing sovereignty, then who does possess it, who is responsible for the acts
of the mandatory; and upon what ultimate authority does the League base the
issuance of a mandate?22
These questions were insoluble for those legal experts, like Lansing, who
thought that the key question to ask about the mandates system was
21 Callahan, Mandates and Empire, p. 103.
22 Lansing, ˜Some Legal Questions™, 640, and see also Fred Northedge, The League of
Nations: Its Life and Times, 1920“1946 (Leicester University Press, 1986), pp. 197“8.
Personally, I enjoy Lansing™s rather understated conclusion that, if the system were not
thoroughly thought out, there would be a danger that it might ˜lead to some confusion™.
Order in contemporary world politics 135

who possessed the sovereignty. The trouble with that approach was that
the operating structure of the system was shaped by people who had a
close familiarity with the operation of the British colonial system, and its
legal framework re¬‚ected the pattern of order they had grown up with,
especially the well-established principle that sovereignty was divisible.23
The status of the mandates posed far less of a dif¬culty for international
lawyers who understood the nature of colonial administration and had
always been comfortable with the notion of divisible sovereignty.
The crucial point, however, is that now no international lawyer could
ignore this dimension of the concept of sovereignty, even though many
found it unpleasant. Not only had the promotion of civilization become a
concern of an international organization, but also as international lawyers
tried to make sense of the new apparatus they were forced to come to
terms with the particular political and legal arrangements that had long
been associated with the promotion of civilization in the context of colo-
nialism. While this internationalization of the principle of civilization was
hardly complete it was, I submit, at least as signi¬cant a feature of the
League system as the further extension of the principle of toleration to
non-European peoples through the recognition of their sovereign equality
and independence, which was achieved only to a very limited extent.

The construction of a global political and legal order
I have described the formation of the League system in terms of the
˜internationalization™ of civilization because in 1919 there were still in-
surmountable obstacles in the way of the construction of a truly global
political and legal order. Although ideological concerns were beginning
to become more important in de¬ning the boundaries of the civilized
world, racial discrimination was still a major element in deciding which
peoples were entitled to membership in the new organization and thus
to have their sovereign status recognized. I therefore think it would be
wrong to describe the League system as a global order, but we can see
it in terms of the gradual interpenetration of the two patterns of or-
der that characterized the modern world. This merger, if you like, was
brought to completion with the establishment of the United Nations.
In terms of international political and legal order, the most far-reaching
23 Lansing™s confusion points, I think, to the penetration of orthodox international legal
theories into the United States. It is highly surprising, in my view, that he did not make
the obvious connection between the situation of the mandates and the earlier treatment
of the western territories in North America. Perhaps this did occur to him, and in a
later piece he displayed a much more penetrating understanding of the possibilities for
a ˜Federal World State™: see Lansing, ˜Notes on World Sovereignty™, American Journal of
International Law, 15 (1921), 19.
136 Beyond the anarchical society

change that took place as the League gave way to the United Nations was
not the re¬nements that were introduced to the collective security sys-
tem, but rather the virtual abandonment of the distinction between the
˜family of civilized nations™ and the rest of the world. In the United
Nations, this way of demarcating between different peoples was largely
avoided; in that respect, it did represent an attempt to build a genuinely
global order, where all peoples would be governed by an identical code
of legal rules, and would all be able to participate on equal terms in the
same organization. Simply put: the United Nations was envisioned as,
or quite rapidly became, an organization of all the world™s peoples, with
universal participation in the projects of preserving peace and developing
global civilization; whereas the League had, above all, been an organi-
zation of civilized nations, working collectively for all the world™s people.
What I want to try to do now is to explain how that change took place,
and identify some of its major political and legal consequences.
Let me begin with three observations about how the concept of civi-
lization was developing during the interwar years. First, a new challenge
arose to confront the defenders of civilization, based on a transformed
version of German Kultur that drew from a hybrid range of sources but, in
particular, made into an instrument of national policy the racial science
that had previously been a central pillar in the discriminatory interna-
tional political and legal thought of the late nineteenth century. As one
commentator remarked in 1934, the core of the National Socialist ar-
gument was the contention that ˜Germans are, in quite the sense of the
old-fashioned British colonizer, the only really “white men”.™24 For the
¬rst time, other Europeans experienced the uncomfortable sensation of
being on the receiving end of racial discrimination from another ˜mas-
ter race™ and did not enjoy it.25 But it was awkward, to say the least,
to af¬rm the supremacy of the white race over African or Asiatic races,
while simultaneously denying the validity of Nazi attempts to demonstrate
Aryan supremacy. By projecting civilization against Nazism, its defenders
were inevitably calling old assumptions about the racial boundaries of the
civilized world into question.26
Secondly, within the victorious powers of the ¬rst world war, and es-
pecially Britain, a rejection of the old values that had animated the impe-
rialist project was beginning to take hold, re¬‚ecting some sympathy with

24 Lewisohn, ˜Revolt against Civilization™, p. 150.
25 For an interesting example, see Gilbert Murray, From the League to UN (Westport:
Greenwood Press, 1988), pp. 103“5.
26 Although some still tried to dispute the Nazi theory of racial supremacy while simultane-
ously upholding racial discrimination: see Frank Hankins, The Racial Basis of Civilization:
A Critique of the Nordic Doctrine (New York: Knopf, 1926).
Order in contemporary world politics 137

the German historical writings on Kultur and the decadent character of
Western civilization, a recognition of the force of the increasingly voci-
ferous criticisms of the exploitative dimensions of imperial rule, and a
growing sense of disillusionment with Victorian morality more generally.
This new attitude, centred on the Bloomsbury intellectuals, combined a
liberal political outlook with a new conception of the role of Europe and
its civilization in the world. Arthur Herman summarises it thus:
Tolerance, compassion, humanitarian concern, and reasonable compromise
would de¬ne this new Western civilization; its chief virtue would have a spiri-
tual rather than a material basis. The British Empire, and by extension Europe
and the West, would accept their political eclipse, as non-Western nations with
their teeming millions rose up from the horizon. However, this kinder, gentler
West would establish in effect a new universal empire of peace and harmony, with
its humane civilized values serving as the basis for a world government and unity
among peoples everywhere.27

The vision, in other words, was of a non-imperial civilization, re¬‚ecting
the best moral and spiritual elements of Western values, and presented
as the template for a pattern of global order in which everyone would
participate as free, self-governing and mutually tolerating peoples. The
idea that the promotion of civilization should necessarily involve the rule
of non-European peoples by European administrators was increasingly
losing its once prominent place in liberal political thought.
These two developments combined with a third: the inability of the
civilized nations to combat the autocratic barbarians by themselves. And
in their assessment of the threat it was clear that the civilized world would
need to ¬nd allies in unlikely places if it was to survive. The seriousness
with which the Americans regarded Nazism, for example, can be de-
tected in the assessment of one international lawyer, L. H. Woolsey, that
˜Hitler has proved . . . that there is a danger to civilization greater than
communism.™28 And, as Woolsey pointed out, it was through the ˜forced
cooperation™ among this disparate group of peoples that ˜the rudiments
of a world organization™ were being created.29 The growing strength of
the Soviet Union and its pivotal role in the alliance of United Nations
against Hitler and the contribution of non-European forces to the strug-
gle against the Japanese (like the Germans, once regarded as civilized,
but no longer) combined to radically transform ideas about the scope of
27 Arthur Herman, The Idea of Decline in Western History (New York: Free Press, 1997),
pp. 257“8. Although ideas about the desirability of economic and technological progress
remained central to the vision of what a civilized world would look like.
28 L.H. Woolsey, ˜Editorial Comment: A Pattern of World Order™, American Journal of
International Law, 36 (1942), 621.
29 Ibid.
138 Beyond the anarchical society

this world organization as it was gradually taking shape in the minds of
statesmen and intellectuals. In all of these respects, the second ˜great war
for civilization™ was signi¬cantly different from the ¬rst. The headline, if
you like, was the same; but the substance of what people were ¬ghting for,
what they were ¬ghting against, and who was doing the bulk of the actual
¬ghting, had all changed. Civilization was now being defended against
a philosophy of autocratic government based on the principle of racial
discrimination; the civilization that was being defended was increasingly
regarded as separable from the imperialistic rule and tutelage of non-
European peoples; and some of its most important defenders were states
that, until recently, had been well beyond the pale of the ˜family of civ-
ilized nations™, the Soviet Union being the most obvious example. The
result was that when diplomats began to turn their attention to the ques-
tion of how international order should be reconstructed after the war,
their frame of reference was quite different from before.
That is not to say that everyone was thinking in exactly the same way.
Some contributions to the debate on the new world organization, partic-
ularly from the British, had very strong echoes of earlier international
legal and political thought. A group of British lawyers in the ˜Grotius
Society™, for example, produced a series of suggestions on the ˜future
of international law™ that clearly recognized the novelty of contempo-
rary conditions, but still clung to some of the older legal assumptions:
˜To ensure universal peace and order, international law must be uni-
versal. Its operation, however, requires the existence of some minimum
level of civilization and moral values among the nations subject to it.
While therefore the aim must be a universal law, the development of a
new international law from a nucleus of States must be envisaged as a
possibility.™30 Although not quite so explicit, or undiplomatic, the British
government™s proposals to the wartime conferences on the treatment of
self-governing territories and the trusteeship system also re¬‚ected the ear-
lier language of the League directly, using phrases like the ˜sacred trust
of civilization™ and the notion that certain peoples were unable to ˜stand
by themselves under the strenuous conditions of the modern world™.31
What had been acceptable in the days of the League, however, was no
longer so, and the British proposal received remarkably short shrift from
the other delegates at the San Francisco Conference. For a start, other
proposals did not adopt the same language at all: neither the French
30 Grotius Society, ˜The Future of International Law™, Transactions of the Grotius Society, 28
(1941), 291. For a broadly similar concern from another international lawyer, see Philip
Marshall Brown, ˜Reserved International Rights™, American Journal of International Law,
38 (1944), 282“3.
31 UNCIO, Documents, vol. III, p. 609.
Order in contemporary world politics 139

nor the American drafts included the phrases. Moreover, in the subse-
quent committee discussions it was argued that the British reference to
people unable to ˜stand by themselves™ was ˜outmoded™, because in a
military sense ˜very few countries if any were now able to stand alone
in protecting themselves™, and, more generally, ˜very few countries were
economically self-suf¬cient™. Signifying the radical change in tone of the
proceedings, it was also argued that the British government™s preferred
choice of wording might be ˜objectionable to certain peoples™, especially
because it did not account for the fact that ˜among dependent peoples

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