American Pressure on the British Empire for the Independence of India: American Financial Leverage on the Decolonisation of the British Empire.

American Pressure on the British Empire for the Independence of India: American Financial Leverage on the Decolonisation of the British Empire.

Roosevelt’s ideas about the British Empire in particular became clear in his African trip. When he visited Morocco to attend the Casablanca Conference he spoke of witnessing colonial exploitation by saying:

“[T]he colonial system means War. Exploit the resources of an India, a Burma, a Java; take all the wealth out of those countries, but never put anything back into them, things like education, decent standard of living, minimum health requirements – all you’re doing is storing up the kind of trouble that leads to war.”21

Then he went on talking about witnessing British imperialism’s exploitation in the Gambia:

“… at about eight thirty in the morning, we drove through Bathurst to the airfield. The natives were just getting to work. In rags… glum looking… they told us the natives would look happier ground noon-time, when the sun should have burned off the dew and the chill. I was told the prevailing wages for these men was one and nine. One shilling, nine pence. Less than fifty cents…

A day! Fifty cents a day. Besides which, they’re given a half-cup of rice… Dirt. Disease. Very high mortality rate. I asked. Life expectancy -you’d never guess what it is. Twenty-six years. Those people are treated worse than the live-stock. Their cattle live longer.”22

Therefore, in place of imperialism Roosevelt introduced the idea of trusteeship. He considered that trusteeship would be a solution to the world’s political problems. He wrote:

“There seems no reason why the principle of trusteeship in private affairs should not be extended to the international field. Trusteeship is based on the principle of unselfish service. For a time at least there are many minor children among the peoples of the world who need trustees in their relations with other nations and peoples, just as there are many adult nations or peoples which must be led back into spirit of good conduct.”23

The issue that the concept of international trusteeship focuses on is accountability to an international organisation. Chapter XI, article XII, and chapter XIII, in the United Nations Charter established the meaning of trusteeship.

“Chapter XI is the Declaration regarding Non-Self-Governing Terrritories. In addition to recognising a responsibility for the political, economic, social and educational advancement of dependent peoples, the members of the United Nations also endorsed the principle of self-government. The word ‘independent’ is not mentioned. For all but a few specific ‘trust’ territories, ‘self-government’ became the general colonial goal established by the San Francisco Conference in 1945.”24 But, article XII explicitly deals with the International Trusteeship System by being referred to as the article for ‘progressive development towards independence.’

Finally, we come to Chapter XIII which deals with the composition, function and powers of the Trusteeship Council. “Until recently (at the time of writing the United States holds the only remaining trust territory) the Trusteeship Council has been composed of the members of the United Nations administering trust territories, and an equal number of nations which did not. The Trusteeship Council was given specific powers which included the authority to:

  1. consider reports submitted by the administering authority:
  2. accept petitions and examine them in consultation with the administering authority:
  3. provide for the periodic visits to respective trust territories at times agreed upon with the administering authority…”25

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