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Permanent Court of International Justice

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International Status of South West Africa

Overview of the case

This Advisory Opinion, given on 11 July 1950, at the request of the General Assembly, was concerned with the determination of the legal status of the Territory, the administration of which had been placed by the League of Nations after the First World War under the Mandate of the Union of South Africa. The League had disappeared, and with it the machinery for the supervision of the Mandates. Moreover, the Charter of the United Nations did not provide that the former mandated Territories should automatically come under trusteeship. The Court held that the dissolution of the League of Nations and its supervisory machinery had not entailed the lapse of the Mandate, and that the mandatory Power was still under an obligation to give an account of its administration to the United Nations, which was legally qualified to discharge the supervisory functions formerly exercised by the League of Nations. The degree of supervision to be exercised by the General Assembly should not, however, exceed that which applied under the Mandates System and should conform as far as possible to the procedure followed in this respect by the Council of the League of Nations. On the other hand, the mandatory Power was not under an obligation to place the Territory under trusteeship, although it might have certain political and moral duties in this connection. Finally, it had no competence to modify the international status of South West Africa unilaterally.


This overview is provided for information only and in no way involves the responsibility of the Court.

Request for Advisory Opinion

Request for Advisory Opinion (including the dossier of documents transmitted to the Court pursuant to article 65, paragraph 2 of the Statute)

27 December 1949
Request for Advisory Opinion (including the dossier of documents transmitted to the Court pursuant to article 65, paragraph 2 of the Statute)
Available in:
English French Bilingual

Written proceedings

Written Statements

2 March 1950
Available in:
English French

Oral proceedings

Verbatim record 1950

Minutes of the Public Sittings held at the Peace Palace, The Hague, from May 16th to 23rd, and on July 11th 1950, the President, M. Basdevant, presiding
Available in:
Original Language

Orders

Order of 30 December 1949

Fixing of time-limit: Written Statement
Available in:
English French Bilingual

Advisory opinions

Summaries of Advisory Opinions and Orders

Summary 1950/3

Summary of the Advisory Opinion of 11 July 1950
Available in:
English French

Press releases

Press release 1949/28

30 December 1949
International status of South West Africa - The General Assembly requests the Court to give an Advisory Opinion
Available in:
English French

Press release 1950/17

23 March 1950
International Status of South West Africa - The Court will hold public hearings beginning on 16 May 1950
Available in:
English French

Press release 1950/22

12 May 1950
International Status of South West Africa - Information concerning the oral proceedings which will begin on 16 May 1950
Available in:
English French

Press release 1950/29

6 July 1950
International Status of South West Africa - The Court will give its Advisory Opinion on 11 July 1950
Available in:
English French

Press release 1950/30

11 July 1950
International Status of South West Africa - Advisory opinion of the Court of 11 July 1950
Available in:
English French

Correspondence

Correspondence

19 December 1949
Correspondence
Available in:
English French