San Remo conference: Wikis


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The San Remo[1] Conference was an international meeting of the post-World War I Allied Supreme Council, held in Sanremo, Italy, from 19 to 26 April 1920. It was attended by the four Principal Allied Powers of World War I who were represented by the Prime Ministers of Britain (David Lloyd George), France (Alexandre Millerand) and Italy (Francesco Nitti) and by the Ambassador of Japan (K. Matsui).

It determined the allocation of Class "A" League of Nations mandates for administration of the former Ottoman-ruled lands of the Middle East.

The precise boundaries of all territories were left unspecified, to "be determined by the Principal Allied Powers"[2] and were not completely finalized until four years later. The conference's decisions were embodied in the stillborn Treaty of Sèvres (Section VII, Art 94-97). As Turkey rejected this treaty, the conference's decisions were only finally confirmed by the Council of the League of Nations on 24 July 1922 subsequent to the acceptance of the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne.



During the meetings of the 'Council of Four' in 1919, British Prime Minister Lloyd George stated that the McMahon-Hussein Correspondence was a treaty obligation. He also explained that the agreement with Hussein had been the basis for the Sykes-Picot Agreement. He told the French Foreign Minister that the proposed League Of Nations Mandate System could not be used as an excuse to break the terms of the Hussein Agreement. Under the terms of the Sykes-Picot Agreement, the British and French had agreed to an independent Arab state, or confederation of states and consultations with the Sharif of Mecca. The French had also agreed that their military would not occupy Damascus, Homs, Homa, and Allepo.[3] As early as July 1919, the parliament of Greater Syria had refused to acknowledge any right claimed by the French Government to any part of Syrian territory.[4]

On 30 September 1918 supporters of the Arab Revolt in Damascus declared a government loyal to the Sharif of Mecca. He had been declared 'King of the Arabs' by religious leaders and other notables in Mecca.[5] On 6 January 1920 Prince Faisal initialed an agreement with French Prime Minister Clemenceau which acknowledged 'the right of the Syrians to unite to govern themselves as an independent nation'.[6] A Pan-Syrian Congress, meeting in Damascus, had declared an independent state of Syria on the 8th of March 1920.[7] The new state included Syria, Palestine, Lebanon, and portions of northern Mesopotamia which had been set aside under the Sykes-Picot Agreement for an independent Arab state, or confederation of states. King Faisal was declared the head of State. At the same time Prince Zeid, Faisal's brother, was declared Regent of Mesopotamia.

The San Remo conference was hastily convened. Great Britain and France both agreed to recognize the provisional independence of Syria and Mesopotamia, while 'reluctantly' claiming mandates for their administration. Palestine was composed of the Ottoman administrative districts of southern Syria. Under customary international law, premature recognition of its independence would be a gross affront to the government of the newly declared parent state. It could have been construed as a belligerent act of intervention without any League of Nations sanction.[8] In any event, its provisional independence was not mentioned, although it continued to be designated as a Class A Mandate.

France had decided to govern Syria directly, and took action to enforce the French Mandate of Syria before the terms had been accepted by the Council of the League of Nations. The French issued an ultimatum and intervened militarily at the Battle of Maysalun in June 1920. They deposed the indigenous Arab government, and removed King Faisal from Damascus in August 1920. Great Britain also appointed a High Commissioner and established their own mandatory regime in Palestine, without first obtaining approval from the Council of the League of Nations.

Article 22 of the Covenant was written two months before the signing of the peace treaty. It was not known at that time to which territories paragraphs 4, 5, and 6 would relate. The territories which came under the regime set up by this article were 3 former parts of the Ottoman Empire and 7 former overseas possessions of Germany referred to in part IV, section I, of the treaty of peace. Those 10 territorial areas were originally administered under 15 mandates.[9] The decisions of the San Remo conference confirmed the mandate allocations of the First Conference of London (February 1920). The San Remo Resolution adopted on 25 April 1920 incorporated the Balfour Declaration of 1917. It and Article 22 of the Covenant of the League of Nations were the basic documents upon which the Mandate for Palestine was constructed.[10] . Britain received the mandate for Palestine and Iraq, while France gained control of Syria including present-day Lebanon.

Text of the Resolution

San Remo Resolution - April 25, 1920

It was agreed –

(a) To accept the terms of the Mandates Article as given below with reference to Palestine, on the understanding that there was inserted in the process-verbal an undertaking by the Mandatory Power that this would not involve the surrender of the rights hitherto enjoyed by the non-Jewish communities in Palestine; this undertaking not to refer to the question of the religious protectorate of France, which had been settled earlier in the previous afternoon by the undertaking given by the French Government that they recognized this protectorate as being at an end.

(b) that the terms of the Mandates Article should be as follows:

The High Contracting Parties agree that Syria and Mesopotamia shall, in accordance with the fourth paragraph of Article 22, Part I (Covenant of the League of Nations), be provisionally recognized as independent States, subject to the rendering of administrative advice and assistance by a mandatory until such time as they are able to stand alone. The boundaries of the said States will be determined, and the selection of the Mandatories made, by the Principal Allied Powers.

The High Contracting Parties agree to entrust, by application of the provisions of Article 22, the administration of Palestine, within such boundaries as may be determined by the Principal Allied Powers, to a Mandatory, to be selected by the said Powers. The Mandatory will be responsible for putting into effect the declaration originally made on November 8, 1917, by the British Government, and adopted by the other Allied Powers, in favour of the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.

La Puissance mandataire s’engage a nommer dans le plus bref delai une Commission speciale pour etudier toute question et toute reclamation concernant les differentes communautes religieuses et en etablir le reglement. Il sera tenu compte dans la composition de cette Commission des interets religieux en jeu. Le President de la Commission sera nomme par le Conseil de la Societe des Nations.

The terms of the mandates in respect of the above territories will be formulated by the Principal Allied Powers and submitted to the Council of the League of Nations for approval.

Turkey hereby undertakes, in accordance with the provisions of Article [132 of the Treaty of Sèvres] to accept any decisions which may be taken in this connection.

(c) Les mandataires choisis par les principales Puissances allies sont: la France pour la Syrie, et la Grande Bretagne pour la Mesopotamie, et la Palestine.

In reference to the above decision the Supreme Council took note of the following reservation of the Italian Delegation:

La Delegation Italienne en consideration des grands interets economiques que l’Italie en tant que puissance exclusivement mediterraneenne possede en Asie Mineure, reserve son approbation a la presente resolution, jusqu’au reglement des interets italiens en Turquie d’Asie.

See also


  • Fromkin, David (1989). A Peace to End All Peace. Henry Holt.  
  • Stein, Leonard (1961). The Balfour Declaration. Valentine Mitchell.  
  • Howard Grief, The Legal Foundation and Borders of Israel under International Law, Jerusalem, Mazo Publishers, 2008.
  • Howard Grief, Legal Rights and Title of Sovereignty of the Jewish People to the Land of Israel and Palestine under International Law, Shaarei Tikva, Ariel Center for Policy Research, 2003.


  1. ^ The official spelling of the city is Sanremo, a phonetic contraction for the name San Romolo (Saint Romolo), official saint and protector of the city, which in the local Ligurian sounds like San Rœmu. The spelling San Remo was introduced (for unknown reasons) in 1924 by the City Mayor and used in official documents during Fascism. This form of the name is still used on some road signs and tourist information. It has been the most widely used form of the name in English at least since the 19th century.
  2. ^ See: San Remo Resolution
  3. ^ 'The Council of Four: minutes of meetings March 20 to May 24, 1919, pages 1 thru 8'
  4. ^ King Husain and the Kingdom of Hejaz, by Randall Baker, Oleander Press, 1979, ISBN 0900891483, page 161
  5. ^ Jordan: Living in the Crossfire, Alan George, Zed Books, 2005, ISBN 1842774719, page 6
  6. ^ [Britain, the Hashemites and Arab Rule, 1920-1925, by Timothy J. Paris, Routledge, 2003, ISBN 0714654515, Page 69]
  7. ^ King's Complete History of the World War, William C. King, The History Associates, 1922, page 665
  8. ^ see for example International Law, Papers of Hersch Lauterpacht, edited by Elihu Lauterpacht, CUP Archive, 1970, ISBN 0521212073, page 116 and Statehood and the Law of Self-determination, D. Raič, Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 2002, ISBN 904111890X, page 95
  9. ^ FRUS, The Paris Peace Conference, 1919, Volume XII Treaty Of Versailles, Annotations Of the Text
  10. ^ Under the Balfour Declaration the British government had undertaken to favour the establishment of a Jewish national home in Palestine without prejudice to the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.

Further reading

  • "Conferees Depart from San Remo", New York Times, April 28, 1920, Wednesday. "CONFEREES DEPART FROM SAN REMO; Millerand Receives Ovation from Italians on His Homeward Journey. RESULTS PLEASE GERMANS; Berlin Liberal Papers Rejoice at Decision to Invite Chancellor to Spa Conference."

External links

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