38 Am. J. Int'l L. 34 (1944)
End of Dominion Status, The; Scott, F. R.

handle is hein.journals/ajil38 and id is 40 raw text is: THE END OF DOMINION STATUS
By F. R. ScoTT
McGill University
The present world war has made further changes in the constitutional
relations among the nations of the British Commonwealth. This was to be
expected, for each great crisis has left its mark on that relationship in the past.
The first world war ended the purely colonial period in the history of the
Dominions. Their military contributions to the Allied war effort gave them
a claim to equal recognition with other small states and to a voice in the
formation of policy. This claim was recognized within the Empire by the
creation of the Imperial War Cabinet in 1917, and within the community of
nations by Dominion signatures to the Treaty of Versailles and by separate
Dominion representation in the League of Nations. In this way the self-
governing Dominions, as they were called, emerged as junior members of
the international community. Their status defied exact analysis by both
international and constitutional lawyers, but it was clear that they were no
longer to be regarded simply as colonies of Great Britain. Domestic self-
government they had long possessed; international relations were to be their
new prerogative.
To the changed position thus acquired the name Dominion status was
given. It was a useful compromise term. Its main virtue was that it sug-
gested a new and more independent r6le for the Dominions and an individual
membership in the world community as well as in the British Empire. This
was what the rising national sentiment in these countries demanded.
Though no one knew exactly what the new status was, or what its limits
were, Great Britain began to offer it to other less favoured portions of the
Empire. Ireland was to have Dominion status by the Treaty of 1921; 1
India was started on the road to Dominion status, making rapid strides
towards the control of her own affairs, as Mr. Lloyd George said at the
Imperial Conference of that year. Clearly colonialism was being trans-
formed into something new and strange. To acknowledge the abandonment
of old style Empire, ruled from the centre, the very name of the association
was gradually changed from British Empire to British Commonwealth.2
All this represented a great advance in the difficult process of making an
I Article I of the Treaty declared Ireland shall have the same constitutional status in the
Community of Nations known as the British Empire as the Dominion of Canada . . . etc.
Mr. Lloyd George speaking on the Treaty said it was difficult and dangerous to give a
definition of what Dominion status meant. See Wheare, The Statute of Westminster and
Dominion Status, 2nd ed., London, 1942, p. 21.
2The phrase autonomous nations of an Imperial Commonwealth appears as early as
1917 in Resolution IX adopted by the Imperial War Conference. In the Irish Treaty cited
above (note 1) the term Empire had not been abandoned. The famous declaration at the
34

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