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.