November 19, 2013

On this day... November 19th

DARC Ethiophile Chronicles 

On November 19, 1926 at the Imperial Conference held in London, South African delegate and Prime Minister, General J.B.M. Hertzog (with support from Canada, Ireland and India) decided to form a committee to discuss and clarify the status of dominions. They would then report back to the conference. The chairman of the group was Lord Arthur Balfour, who moderated the drafting Committee of the Declaration. Various people put proposals forward on what status the dominions should have, and Hertzog asked for no subordination to Britain.

The declaration finally stated that:

  • Britain and the dominions were autonomous communities
  • All dominions were equal in status
  • No one dominion was subordinate to another
  • Each dominion ruled their own internal and external affairs (this was a change and meant that a dominion could no longer be forced to participate in a war on the side of Britain)
  • Loyalty to crown was expected
  • They were freely united
  • No member was to embarrass another member
  • Dominions had a High Commissioner in Britain and, in turn, Britain had High Commissioners in the dominions
  • The Governor General would represent the crown in the dominions 

Hertzog saw this declaration as recognizing the constitutional independence of South Africa, but the declaration was not a law, only a document. This was a diplomatic achievement for Hertzog, who steadfastly demanded to receive a clear statement concerning the status of the dominions and resisted attempts by other members to include such terms as "common citizenship" and "duties and obligations". It paved the way for the formal acceptance of the growing political and diplomatic independence of South Africa and other Dominions.


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