Sovereignty under the League of Nations Mandates: The Jurists’ Debates

In: Journal of the History of International Law / Revue d'histoire du droit international
Leonard V. Smith Oberlin College OH United States

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The mandate system took shape at an inflexion point in the evolution from an international system based on rule over territories to one based on rule over peoples. Political compromises made at the Paris Peace Conference resulted in the creation of a new political agent, the League of Nations Mandate, with no clear sovereign. In seeking to systematize this political outcome, jurists located sovereignty with the victorious Great Powers, the League itself, and with the peoples of the mandate territories. Yet they never achieved a consensus, which created an absence at the centre of the mandate system that politics would have to fill throughout the interwar period.

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