Balfour Declaration

At the Imperial Conference in London in 1926, 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 Balfour. 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.

Last updated : 14-Apr-2016

This article was produced for South African History Online on 30-Mar-2011