Unilateral Declaration of Egyptian Independence

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The Unilateral Declaration of Egyptian Independence was issued by the government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland on 28 February 1922. Through this declaration, the British government unilaterally ended its protectorate over Egypt and granted it nominal independence with the exception of four "reserved" areas: foreign relations, communications, the military and the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan.[1]

Background[edit]

The declaration was preceded by a period of inconclusive negotiations between the Egyptian and British governments. Areas of disagreement included Egypt's position on the issues of the protectorate and of its future role in Sudan. Egyptian prime minister Adli Yakan Pasha and moderate Egyptian nationalists managed to obtain the agreement of British High Commissioner Edmund Allenby to secure the more general issue of Egypt's independence. The government of Liberal British prime minister Lloyd George wanted to maintain the protectorate over Egypt. However, Allenby threatened to resign. His actions brought the issue of Egyptian independence to public discussion and led to a quick official response: two weeks later the declaration was issued.[1]

Although it met the Egyptian nationalists' immediate demands for an end to the protectorate, the declaration was globally unsatisfactory since it did not grant Egypt full independence. Egyptian sovereignty was greatly restricted by the "reserved points" clause. This led to sustained pressure on the United Kingdom from Egyptian nationalists to renegotiate the relationship between the two countries, which finally occurred with the signing of the Anglo-Egyptian Treaty of 1936.[1]

Text[edit]

The following text was first published in 1922. As a result, it is currently in the public domain in the United States, as well as in the United Kingdom where its Crown copyright has expired.[2]

Declaration to Egypt by His Britannic Majesty's Government (February 28, 1922)
Whereas His Majesty's Government, in accordance with their declared intentions, desire forthwith to recognise Egypt as an independent sovereign State; and
Whereas the relations between His Majesty's Government and Egypt are of vital interest to the British Empire;
The following principles are hereby declared:
1. The British Protectorate over Egypt is terminated, and Egypt is declared to be an independent sovereign State.
2. So soon as the Government of His Highness shall pass an Act of Indemnity with application to all inhabitants of Egypt, martial law as proclaimed on the 2nd November, 1914, shall be withdrawn.
3. The following matters are absolutely reserved to the discretion of His Majesty's Government until such time as it may be possible by free discussion and friendly accommodation on both sides to conclude agreements in regard thereto between His Majesty's Government and the Government of Egypt:
(a) The security of the communications of the British Empire in Egypt;
(b) The defence of Egypt against all foreign aggression or interference, direct or indirect;
(c) The protection of foreign interests in Egypt and the protection of minorities;
(d) The Soudan.
Pending the conclusion of such agreements, status quo in all these matters shall remain intact.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c King, Joan Wucher (1989) [First published 1984]. Historical Dictionary of Egypt. Books of Lasting Value. American University in Cairo Press. pp. 259–260. ISBN 978-977-424-213-7. 
  2. ^ Blaustein, Albert P.; Sigler, Jay A.; Beede, Benjamin R., eds. (1977). Independence Documents of the World. Volume 1. Dobbs Ferry, NY: Oceana Publications. pp. 204–205. ISBN 978-0-379-00794-7.