International Trusteeship System

In 1945, under Chapter XII of its Charterthe United Nations established the International Trusteeship System for the supervision of Trust Territories placed under it by individual agreements with the States administering them.

Under Article 77 of the Charter, the International Trusteeship System applied to:

  • territories held under mandates established by the League of Nations after the First World War;
  • territories detached from "enemy States" as a result of the Second World War; and
  • territories voluntarily placed under the System by States responsible for their administration.

Pursuant to Article 76 of the Charter, the basic objectives of the International Trusteeship System in accordance with the purposes of the United Nations included: to promote the political, economic, social and educational advancement of the inhabitants of the Trust Territories and their progressive development towards self-government and independence; and to encourage respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms for all and recognition of the interdependence of the peoples of the world.

In order to supervise the administration of the Trust Territories, and to ensure that Governments responsible for their administration took adequate steps to prepare them for the achievement of the Charter goals, the United Nations established the Trusteeship Council under Chapter XIII of the Charter.

The Charter authorized the Trusteeship Council to examine and discuss reports from the Administering Authority (as per Article 81 of the Charter) on the political, economic, social and educational advancement of the peoples of the Trust Territories; to examine petitions from the Territories; and to undertake special missions to the Territories.

In the early years of the United Nations, 11 Territories were placed under the International Trusteeship System (see below for details).

All 11 Territories have either become independent States or have voluntarily joined neighboring independent countries. In 1993, the last Trust Territory to do so was the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands (Palau) under the administration of the United States. The Security Council terminated the United Nations Trusteeship Agreement in 1994 for that Territory, after it had chosen free association with the United States in a plebiscite in 1993.  Palau became independent in 1994, joining the United Nations as its 185th Member State. With no Territories left in its agenda, the Trusteeship Council suspended its operations on 1 November the same year.

Today, the Trusteeship Council continues to exist as an organ of the United Nations, and meets as and where occasion requires it.


* By its resolution 2866 (XXVI) of 20 December 1971, the General Assembly decided that, in accordance with the express desire of the people of the Territories, the name to be applied for the United Nations purposes to the Territory of Papua and the Trust Territory of New Guinea should henceforth be "Papua New Guinea".