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Digitization Update - Trusteeship Council

Thursday 8 October 2020

Topics: Digital Collections

On 1 November 1994, the Trusteeship Council became a “victim” of its own success and suspended operations after the last territory under its trusteeship, Palau, became independent the month before.  Now, in accordance with T/RES/2200 (LXI), the Trusteeship Council only meets "as and where occasion may require". 

When the United Nations was founded in 1945, 750 million people, nearly one third of the world’s population, lived in territories that were dependent on colonial powers. Chapter XII of the UN Charter established an international trusteeship system, and on December 14, 1946, the General Assembly formed the Trusteeship Council as a main organ of the UN (A/RES/64(I)).  The Council held its first session in March 1947, presided over by Secretary-General Trygve Lie who stated in his opening address:

 “The United Nations and the Administering Authorities now solemnly join hands in the great venture of reassuring, by deeds, the inhabitants of the Trust Territories as to their future political, economic, social and educational advancement and the ultimate realization of their aspirations towards self-government or independence.” (T/SR.1)

From 1947-1994, the Trusteeship Council was instrumental in the decolonization and subsequent independence of 11 trust territories in Africa and the Pacific. Most of the Council’s active years are from before UN documents were issued in electronic format. These unique accounts of life and government in the trust territories could only be found in the Library’s print collection and in UN depository libraries.

The Digitization Unit of the Dag Hammarskjöld Library prioritized making this collection more accessible and has now digitized most of the Trusteeship Council documentation.  The digitized documents, almost 16,000 in total, including the official records (comprising meeting records, resolutions and reports), petitions, observations, and communications, can be accessed in full-text from the UN Digital Library.   

To better understand Trusteeship Council documents and how to find them, and for more information about the UN’s work on decolonization, please consult our research guides:

For an annual bibliographic record of Trusteeship Council documents, please consult the Index to Proceedings of the Trusteeship Council.