This week marks the centennial of the San Remo conference, one of a series of international negotiations in which the victorious Allies resolved the various issues stemming from World War I. Dore Gold explains how it set the stage for the Jewish self-determination:
San Remo dealt with the disposition of territories that until 1920 were a part of the Ottoman empire, which had been defeated in the war. Formally, the Ottomans renounced their claim to sovereignty over these lands . . . in the Treaty of Sèvres, which was signed the same year as San Remo, on August 10, 1920. . . . What these postwar treaties enabled was the emergence of the system of Arab states, on the one hand, and the emergence of a “national home for the Jewish people,” on the other.
The Balfour Declaration from 1917 was in essence a declaration of British policy. But San Remo converted the Balfour Declaration into a binding international treaty, setting the stage for the League of Nations Mandate, which was approved in 1922. It has been noted that at San Remo, Jewish historic rights became Jewish legal rights.
Were these legal rights of the Jewish people superseded in subsequent years? At the time that the UN Charter was drafted in 1945, officials were cognizant that this argument might be raised. Therefore, they incorporated Article 80 into the UN Charter stating specifically that “nothing in this chapter shall be construed in or of itself to alter in any manner the rights whatsoever of any states or any peoples or the terms of existing international instruments to which members of the United Nations may respectively be parties.” Thus, the foundations of Jewish legal rights established through San Remo were preserved for the future.