PANNASASTRA UNIVERSITY OF CAMBODIA
Faculty of Social Sciences and International Relations
Major: International Relations
Course: United Nations Systems
Lecturer: Professor Stan Starygin
Student’s Name: Chhun Sokha
Academic Year: 2008 – 2009
TOPIC: THE REFORM OF THE UN’S TRUSTEESHIP COUNCIL
II) ISSUES INVOLVING THE TRUSTEESHIP COUNCIL
· IMPOSSIBILITY AND INEFFICIENCY
· OVERLAPPING PRINCIPLES
· NO MORE TERRITORIES UNDER INTERNATIONAL TRUSTEESHIP SYSTEM
· THE TRUSTEESHIP COUNCIL CAN BE PLACED UNDER THE SUBORDINATION OF SECURITY COUNCIL
· THE TRUSTEESHIP COUNCIL IS NOT A DEPENDENT BODY
· ONLY FIVE PERMANENT MEMBERS ARE PART OF THE TRUSTEESHIP COUNCIL
THE REFORM OF THE UN’S TRUSTEESHIP COUNCIL
Trusteeship Council (TC) is one of the main six UN organs created under the UN Charter in 1947. The significant goal of the Trusteeship Council is to oversee trust territories which are voluntarily put under its operation to reach self-government and in the end reach its statehood. There were eleven trust territories under its operation and after they were established they have become independent and members of the United Nations. The last state that gained independence was Palau and when it became independent, the Trusteeship Council has been seen as an inactive organ since it has put its operation into an end and decided to meet when the situation is needed, not annually. The Trusteeship Council has been seen as the UN inactive organ by many world leaders, politicians as well as the ex-Secretary General Kofi Annan. These people have, furthermore, tried to give suggestion to the reform of this organ or to totally dismantle it from the UN Charter.
The followings will be about the reasons why this organ wants to be abolished by the above-mentioned people and it also highlights how the Trusteeship Council is to be reformed.
II) ISSUES INVOLVING THE TRUSTEESHIP COUNCIL
As I mentioned above, the Trusteeship Council has been inactive since 1994, but the word ‘inactive’ alone is not enough to say that the organ ought to be reformed or dissolved. The following will talk about the problems sought in the organ.
IMPOSSIBILITY AND INEFFICIENCY
The first problem of the Trusteeship Council is its inefficiency and impracticability. As it is already said the essential purpose of the Trusteeship Council is to assist trust territories to get independence, and after the Palau, which is the last state to gain independence, there are no more trust territories under its operation. Hence, there is no stuff for the Trusteeship Council to do and so how can it operate and be effective?
Weaknesses are seen in article 75 stating that: “the United Nations shall establish under its authority an international trusteeship system for the administration and supervision of such territories as may be placed thereunder by subsequent individual agreements. These territories are hereinafter referred to as trust territories.” According to this article, we dare say that the Trusteeship Council has only theory and principles, but there is no implementation at all since it does not have trust territories under it these days as there are no countries under colonization any more. That is why it is seen as a useless and impractical organ.
Another matter found in the Trusteeship Council is that several principles are overlapping with that of the UN whole Charter as well as with subsidiary agencies and other organs as well. For instance, article 76 of the charter provides that “the basic objectives of the trusteeship system… shall be to further international peace and security and to encourage respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race sex, language, or religion, and to encourage recognition of the interdependence of the peoples of the world.” If we take this into consideration, we will know that the meaning in this article covers the same things as the overall destination of the charter. As a consequence of this, it can be removed from this paragraph and substitute with another different one from this principle. Moreover, the third paragraph of the same article emphasizes about human rights and fundamental freedoms which are also overlapping with other agencies under the UN, especially human rights institutions. This article can accordingly be removed and replaced under agencies and organs if the Trusteeship Council is able to be reformed.
NO MORE TERRITORIES UNDER INTERNATIONAL TRUSTEESHIP SYSTEM
In this section, I will examine why the Trusteeship Council is not workable and impractical as it used to operate prior to 1994. Similar to some arguments mentioned in the previous paragraph, the Trusteeship Council only managed to function when there are trust territories placed under its authority and other territories which mentioned in article 77, paragraph 1 of the UN charter. It says that the trusteeship system shall apply to such territories which now held under mandate. This mandate refers to those trust territories which held under the League of Nations. Under the League of Nations the territories were categorized into 3 mandates, which are “A, B, and C”, respectively.
Territories under the “A” mandates were those territories formerly belonging to the Turkish Empire, including Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Iraq, Jordan. All of these territories have gained full sovereignty between 1932 and 1947.
As for “B” mandates, it covered territories under the former German colonies in Central Africa, which included the countries of Cameroon, Togo Land, Tanganyika, and Ruanda-Urandi. These territories have received independence respectively in 1950, 1957, 1961, and 1962.
In the “C” mandates, the territories were categorized under several administering authorities because these territories were mostly islands with small size of population and they were considered to be incapable of self-govern in the future when they are given full independence. Due to this, those territories must place under different administering authorities. These territories were composed of former German colonies of South – West Africa placed under South African administration which included the territories of Marianas, Caroline, and Marshall islands assigned to Japan; New Guinea and Nauru under the aegis of Australia, and Western Samoa under the control of New Zealand. These territories except South-West Africa have placed under the UN trusteeship system and they have all become independent states. According to these evidences, we can definitely understand that there are now no more territories held under the League of Nations mandates which the article has stated.
The UN trusteeship system, furthermore, also apply to territories voluntarily placed under the system by states responsible for their administration. And since there are now no more territories placed under it, so the TC has no job to do and it has become an inactive and impractical organ.
THE TRUSTEESHIP COUNCIL CAN BE PLACED UNDER THE SUBORDINATION OF SECURITY COUNCIL
As mentioned in article 83 of the UN charter which states that all functions of the UN relating to strategic areas including the approval of terms of the trusteeship agreements…shall be exercised by the SC. Strategic areas due to this article refers to the trust territories for which functions of the UN are exercised by the SC. It means that the TC cannot perform by dependent on its own capability. To perform the function well the TC must seek assistance from the SC as it is more powerful than other organs in the UN. Thus, I personally think that the TC should be placed under the UNSC. Article 83, furthermore, states that the SC… shall avail itself of the assistance of the TC to perform those functions of the UN under the trusteeship system relating to political, economic, social, and educational matters in the strategic areas. According to this, the job of the TC is to help the SC to better perform and it has no important roles at all to perform all of these functions effectively.
THE TRUSTEESHIP COUNCIL IS NOT A DEPENDENT BODY
In the past, the Trusteeship Council had assistance from different specialized agencies in order to function more effectively as mentioned in article 91 of the charter that, ‘The Trusteeship Council shall, when appropriate, avail itself of the assistance of the ECOSOC and of the specialized agencies in regard to matters with which they are respectively concerned.” Depending on this article, the Trusteeship Council has sought help from some specialized agencies which included WHO, UNESCO, ILO, and the World Bank.
Besides seeking assistance from the ECOSOC and certain specialized agencies, the Trusteeship Council seems to be subordinated under the General Assembly, too. Article 85 says that “the functions of the UN with regard to trusteeship agreements for all areas not designated as strategic… shall be exercised by the General Assembly.” As mentioned above, territory that is a strategic area is exercised by the Security Council, but when a territory is not designated as strategic area, it is this time exercised by the General Assembly. Moreover, the article states that “the Trusteeship Council, operating under the authority of the General Assembly, shall assist the General Assembly in carrying out these functions.” So, I can say that the Trusteeship Council is not independent.
ONLY FIVE PERMANENT MEMBERS ARE PART OF THE TRUSTEESHIP COUNCIL
The reason that I can say that only the five permanent members of the Security Council are part of the Trusteeship Council because it is related to the article 86 of the UN Charter which states in the following that:
The Trusteeship Council shall consist of the following members of the UN:
Those Members administering trust territories
b. Such of those Members mentioned by name in article 23 as are not administering trust territories; and
c. As many other members elected for three-year term by the General Assembly as to ensure that the total numbers of members of the Trusteeship Council is equally divided between those members of the UN which administer trust territories and those which do not.
Now if we discuss about the paragraph above one by one, we will find out that in paragraph ‘a’, we at the moment cannot find any members controlling trust territories because there are now no trust territories placed under the TC. For paragraph ‘b’, it mentioned specifically to states which named in article 23 referring to the five permanent members of the Security Council. As for paragraph ‘c’, there is only principle but in reality there is no more trust territory and the General Assembly does not need to elect members to perform functions as well. In a nutshell, I would say there are no members as part of the Trusteeship Council except the five Permanent Members.
NO MORE REPORTS FROM ADMINISTERING AUTHORITY FOR THE TRUSTEESHIP COUNCIL TO OVERSEE
Other main jobs of the Trusteeship Council are to examine report sent to it by administering authority, accept petition, and provide for periodic visit to the trust territories. But as there are no existence of trust territories and so how can the Trusteeship Council get and examine reports and how can it take periodic visit to the trust territories? Thus, I am able to say that there are no trust territories, so the Trusteeship Council is gone.
Now we have found out the issues within the Trusteeship Council, and the next question is how we can fix it: it can be completely dissolved, kept or turned into a new organ or agency. Through my personal thinking, the Trusteeship council is supposed to be kept but to be converted from a gigantic organ to a new agency and placed under the supervision of the Security Council. Moreover, the new trusteeship council should deal with any new problem occurring in the future that there will be no any intervention from other existing UN agencies. And the other valuable point of establishing a new trusteeship is that we had better not wipe out the old trusteeship and form another new one, but what we should do is just shifting from an enormous organ to a small agency and the management of the new agency should be the same as the old one. Thus, we do not need to spend more money in creating the new one.
1. Compiled by Starygin, Stan, United Nations Systems: Pannasastra University of Cambodia.
2. Bhatta, Gambhir, Reforms at the UN, Contextualising the Annan Agenda: (Singapore: Singapore University Press, 2000)
3. Bennett, A. LeRoy & James K. Oliver, International Organizations, Principles and Issues: 7th ed. (New Jersey: Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall, 2002)
4. Taylor, Paul & A.J.R. Groom, The United Nations at the Millennium, the Principal Organs: 1st ed. (London and New York: 2000)
 Compiled by Stan Starygin, United Nations Systems: Pannasastra University of Cambodia, p.92.
 Compiled by Stan Starygin, United Nations Systems: Pannasastra University of Cambodia, p.91.