Governor-general

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Governor-general (plural governors-general) or governor general (plural governors general), in modern usage, is the title of an office-holder appointed to represent the monarch of a sovereign state in the governing of an independent realm. [1] Governors-general have also previously been appointed in respect of major colonial states or other territories held by either a monarchy or republic, such as Japan in Korea and France in Indochina.

Sovereign state Political organization with a centralized independent government

In international law, a sovereign state, sovereign country, or simply state, is a nonphysical juridical entity that is represented by one centralized government that has sovereignty over a geographic area. International law defines sovereign states as having a permanent population, defined territory, one government, and the capacity to enter into relations with other sovereign states. It is also normally understood that a sovereign state is neither dependent on nor subjected to any other power or state.

State (polity) Organised community living under a system of government; either a sovereign state, constituent state, or federated state

A state is a political organization with a centralized government that exerts authority within a certain geographical territory. There is not a single, undisputed, definition of what constitutes a state. A widely-used definition is a state being a polity that, within a given territory, maintains a monopoly on the use of force.

Empire of Japan Empire in the Asia-Pacific region between 1868–1947

The Empire of Japan was the historical nation-state and great power that existed from the Meiji Restoration in 1868 to the enactment of the 1947 constitution of modern Japan.

Contents

Current uses

In modern usage, the term governor-general originated in those British colonies which became self-governing within the British Empire. Before World War I, the title was used only in federated colonies in which each of the previously constituent colonies of these federated colonies already had a governor, namely Canada, Australia, and the Union of South Africa. In these cases, the Crown's representative in the federated Dominion was given the superior title of governor-general. The first exception to this rule was New Zealand, which was granted Dominion status in 1907, but it was not until 28 June 1917 that Arthur Foljambe, 2nd Earl of Liverpool, was appointed the first Governor-General of New Zealand. Another non-federal state, Newfoundland, was a Dominion for 16 years with the King's representative retaining the title of governor throughout this time.

British Empire States and dominions ruled by the United Kingdom

The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom and its predecessor states. It originated with the overseas possessions and trading posts established by England between the late 16th and early 18th centuries. At its height, it was the largest empire in history and, for over a century, was the foremost global power. By 1913, the British Empire held sway over 412 million people, 23% of the world population at the time, and by 1920, it covered 35,500,000 km2 (13,700,000 sq mi), 24% of the Earth's total land area. As a result, its political, legal, linguistic and cultural legacy is widespread. At the peak of its power, the phrase "the empire on which the sun never sets" was often used to describe the British Empire, because its expanse around the globe meant that the sun was always shining on at least one of its territories.

Union of South Africa state in southern Africa from 1910 to 1961, predecessor to the Republic of South Africa

The Union of South Africa is the historical predecessor to the present-day Republic of South Africa. It came into being on 31 May 1910 with the unification of the Cape Colony, the Natal Colony, the Transvaal, and the Orange River Colony. It included the territories that were formerly a part of the South African Republic and the Orange Free State.

A Dominion was the "title" given to the semi-independent polities under the British Crown, constituting the British Empire, beginning with Canadian Confederation in 1867. "Dominion status" was a constitutional term of art used to signify an independent Commonwealth realm; they included Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Newfoundland, South Africa, and the Irish Free State, and then from the late 1940s also India, Pakistan, and Ceylon. The Balfour Declaration of 1926 recognised the Dominions as "autonomous Communities within the British Empire", and the 1931 Statute of Westminster confirmed their full legislative independence.

Since 2016,[ why? ] the title governor-general has been given to all representatives of the sovereign in independent Commonwealth realms. In these cases, the former office of colonial governor was altered (sometimes for the same incumbent) to become governor-general upon independence, as the nature of the office became an entirely independent constitutional representative of the monarch rather than a symbol of previous colonial rule. In these countries the governor-general acts as the monarch's representative, performing the ceremonial and constitutional functions of a head of state.

Commonwealth realm sovereign state within the Commonwealth of Nations that has Elizabeth II or her successors as its monarch

A Commonwealth realm is a sovereign state in which Queen Elizabeth II is the reigning constitutional monarch and head of state. Each realm is independent from the other realms. As of 2019, there are 16 Commonwealth realms: Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada, Grenada, Jamaica, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, and the United Kingdom. All 16 Commonwealth realms are members of the Commonwealth of Nations, an intergovernmental organisation of 53 member states. Elizabeth II is Head of the Commonwealth.

A head of state is the public persona who officially represents the national unity and legitimacy of a sovereign state. Depending on the country's form of government and separation of powers, the head of state may be a ceremonial figurehead or concurrently the head of government. In a parliamentary system the head of state is the de jure leader of the nation, and there is a separate de facto leader, often with the title of prime minister. In contrast, a semi-presidential system has both heads of state and government as the leaders de facto of the nation.

The only other nation which uses the governor-general designation is Iran, which has no connection with any monarchy or the Commonwealth. In Iran, the provincial authority is headed by a governor general [2] (Persian: استاندار ostāndār), who is appointed by the Minister of the Interior.

Iran Islamic Republic in Western Asia

Iran, also called Persia, and officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, is a country in Western Asia. With over 81 million inhabitants, Iran is the world's 18th most populous country. Its territory spans 1,648,195 km2 (636,372 sq mi), making it the second largest country in the Middle East and the 17th largest in the world. Iran is bordered to the northwest by Armenia and the Republic of Azerbaijan, to the north by the Caspian Sea, to the northeast by Turkmenistan, to the east by Afghanistan and Pakistan, to the south by the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, and to the west by Turkey and Iraq. Its central location in Eurasia and Western Asia, and its proximity to the Strait of Hormuz, give it geostrategic importance. Tehran is the capital, largest city, and leading economic and cultural center.

British colonialism and the governors-general

Lord Tweedsmuir was Governor General of Canada from 1935 to 1940. The uniform shown here was the unique ceremonial dress for Governors General of Canada. Btweedsmuir2.jpg
Lord Tweedsmuir was Governor General of Canada from 1935 to 1940. The uniform shown here was the unique ceremonial dress for Governors General of Canada.

Until the 1920s, governors-general were British subjects, appointed on the advice of the British government, who acted as agents of the British government in each Dominion, as well as being representatives of the monarch. As such they notionally held the prerogative powers of the monarch, and also held the executive power of the country to which they were assigned. The governor-general could be instructed by the colonial secretary on the exercise of some of his functions and duties, such as the use or withholding of the Royal Assent from legislation; history shows many examples of governors-general using their prerogative and executive powers. The monarch or imperial government could overrule any governor-general, though this could often be cumbersome, due to remoteness of the territories from London.

Secretary of State for the Colonies British Cabinet minister in charge of managing the United Kingdoms various colonial dependencies

The Secretary of State for the Colonies or Colonial Secretary was the British Cabinet minister in charge of managing the United Kingdom's various colonial dependencies.

The governor-general was also usually the commander-in-chief of the armed forces in his or her territory and, because of the governor-general's control of the military, the post was as much a military appointment as a civil one. The governors-general are entitled to wear a unique uniform, which is not generally worn today. If of the rank of major general, equivalent or above, they were entitled to wear that military uniform.

Modern Commonwealth

Commonwealth realms

Following the Imperial Conference, and subsequent issuing of the Balfour Declaration in 1926, the role and responsibilities of the governor-general began to shift, reflecting the increased independence of the Dominions (which were in 1952 renamed Realms; a term which includes the UK itself). As the sovereign came to be regarded as monarch of each territory independently, and, as such, advised only by the ministers of each country in regard to that country's national affairs (as opposed to a single British monarch ruling all the Dominions as a conglomerate and advised only by an imperial parliament), so too did the governor-general become a direct representative of the national monarch only, who no longer answered to the British government. The report resulting from the 1926 Imperial Conference stated: "...it is an essential consequence of the equality of status existing among the members of the British Commonwealth of Nations that the Governor General of a Dominion is the representative of the Crown, holding in all essential respects the same position in relation to the administration of public affairs in the Dominion as is held by His Majesty the King in Great Britain, and that he is not the representative or agent of His Majesty's Government in Great Britain or of any Department of that Government." [3] These concepts were entrenched in legislation with the enactment of the Statute of Westminster in 1931, and governmental relations with the United Kingdom were placed in the hands of a British High Commissioner in each country.

Imperial Conference

Imperial Conferences were periodic gatherings of government leaders from the self-governing colonies and dominions of the British Empire between 1887 and 1937, before the establishment of regular Meetings of Commonwealth Prime Ministers in 1944. They were held in 1887, 1894, 1897, 1902, 1907, 1911, 1921, 1923, 1926, 1930, 1932 and 1937.

Statute of Westminster 1931

The Statute of Westminster 1931 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom whose modified versions are now domestic law within Australia and Canada; it has been repealed in New Zealand and implicitly in former Dominions that are no longer Commonwealth realms. Passed on 11 December 1931, the act, either immediately or upon ratification, effectively both established the legislative independence of the self-governing Dominions of the British Empire from the United Kingdom and bound them all to seek each other's approval for changes to monarchical titles and the common line of succession. It thus became a statutory embodiment of the principles of equality and common allegiance to the Crown set out in the Balfour Declaration of 1926. As the statute removed nearly all of the British parliament's authority to legislate for the Dominions, it had the effect of making the Dominions largely sovereign nations in their own right. It was a crucial step in the development of the Dominions as separate states.

In other words, the political reality of a self-governing Dominion within the British Empire with a governor-general answerable to the sovereign became clear. British interference in the Dominion was not acceptable and independent country status was clearly displayed. Canada, Australia, and New Zealand were clearly not controlled by the United Kingdom. The monarch of these countries (Elizabeth II) is in law Queen of Canada, Queen of Australia, and Queen of New Zealand and only acts on the advice of the ministers in each country and is in no way influenced by the British government. Today, therefore, in former British colonies which are now independent Commonwealth realms, the governor-general is constitutionally the representative of the monarch in his or her state and may exercise the reserve powers of the monarch according to their own constitutional authority. The governor-general, however, is still appointed by the monarch and takes an oath of allegiance to the monarch of their own country. Executive authority is also vested in the monarch, though much of it can be exercisable only by the governor-general on behalf of the sovereign of the independent realm. Letters of Credence or Letters of Recall are now sometimes received or issued in the name of the monarch, though, in some countries, such as Canada and Australia, the Letters of Credence and Recall are issued in the name of the governor-general alone.

At diplomatic functions where the governor-general is present, the visiting diplomat or head of state toasts "The King" or "The Queen" of the relevant realm, not the governor-general, with any reference to the governor-general being subsidiary in later toasts if featuring at all, and will involve a toast to them by name, not office. (E.g., "Mr. and Mrs. Smith," not "Her Excellency, the Governor-General." Sometimes a toast might be made using name and office, e.g., "Governor-General Smith.")

Except in rare cases (example, a constitutional crisis), the governor-general usually acts in accordance with constitutional convention and upon the advice of the national prime minister (who is Head of the nation's Government). [4] The governor-general is still the local representative of the sovereign and performs the same duties as they carried out historically, though their role is for the most part ceremonial (or partly ceremonial). Rare and controversial exceptions occurred in 1926, when Canadian Governor General the Viscount Byng of Vimy refused Prime Minister Mackenzie King's request for a dissolution of parliament; in 1953 and 1954 when the Governor-General of Pakistan, Ghulam Mohammad, staged a constitutional coup against the Prime Minister and then the Constituent Assembly; and in 1975, when the Governor-General of Australia, Sir John Kerr, dismissed the Prime Minister, Gough Whitlam (to name a few). [5] It should be remembered that while the governor-general doesn't normally take drastic action, he/she still has a responsibility to ensure that the constitution is respected and followed at all times. In many ways the governor-general acts as an Umpire/Mediator (who must remain independent/non partisan and objective) in the political scene. In some realms, the monarch could in principle overrule a governor-general,[ how? ] but this has not happened in modern times.

In Australia the present Queen is generally assumed to be head of state, since the governor-general and the state governors are defined as her "representatives". [6] However, since the governor-general performs almost all national regal functions, the governor-general has occasionally been referred to as head of state in political and media discussion. To a lesser extent, uncertainty has been expressed in Canada as to which officeholder—the monarch, the governor general, or both—can be considered the head of state.

The governor-general is usually a person with a distinguished record of public service, often a retired politician, judge or military commander; but some countries have also appointed prominent academics, members of the clergy, philanthropists, or figures from the news media to the office.

Traditionally, the governor-general's official attire was a unique uniform, but this practice has been abandoned except on occasions when it is appropriate to be worn (and in some countries abandoned altogether). In South Africa, the Governor-General of the Union of South Africa nominated by the Afrikaner Nationalist government chose not to wear uniform on any occasion. Most governors-general continue to wear appropriate medals on their clothing when required.

The governor-general's official residence is usually called Government House. The Governor-General of the Irish Free State resided in the then Viceregal Lodge in Phoenix Park, Dublin, but the government of Éamon de Valera sought to downgrade the office and the last governor-general, Domhnall Ua Buachalla, did not reside there. The office was abolished there in 1936.

In most Commonwealth realms, the flag of the governor-general has been the standard pattern of a blue field with the Royal Crest (a lion standing on a crown) above a scroll with the name of the jurisdiction. In Canada, however, this was replaced with a crowned lion clasping a maple leaf. In the Solomon Islands, the scroll was replaced with a two-headed frigate bird motif, while in Fiji, the former Governor General's flag featured a whale's tooth. In New Zealand, the flag was replaced in 2008 with the shield of the coat of arms of New Zealand surmounted by a crown on a blue field.

Governors-general are accorded the style of His/Her Excellency . This style is also extended to their spouses, whether female or male.

Appointment

Tim Healy
First Governor-General of the Irish Free State Tim healy.jpg
Tim Healy
First Governor-General of the Irish Free State

Until the 1920s, the Governors General were British, and appointed on the advice of the British Government.

Following the changes to the structure of the Commonwealth in the late 1920s, in 1929, the Australian Prime Minister James Scullin established the right of a Dominion prime minister to advise the monarch directly on the appointment of a governor-general, by insisting that his choice (Isaac Isaacs, an Australian) prevail over the recommendation of the British government. The convention was gradually established throughout the Commonwealth that the governor-general would be a citizen of the country concerned, and would be appointed on the advice of the government of that country, with no input from the British government; Governor General of Canada since 1952 and Governor-General of New Zealand since 1967. Since 1931 as each former Dominion has patriated its constitution from the UK, the convention has become law, or, since 1947, when the first realms established with a patriated constitution, India and Pakistan, were established, was always law, and no government of any realm can advise the Monarch on any matter pertaining to another realm, including the appointment of a governor-general. The monarch appoints a governor-general (in Canada: governor general) as a personal representative only on the advice of the prime minister of each realm; for example, the Governor-General of New Zealand is appointed by the Queen of New Zealand on the advice of the New Zealand prime minister, the Governor-General of Tuvalu is appointed by the Queen of Tuvalu on the advice of the Tuvaluan prime minister, and the Governor-General of Jamaica is appointed by the Queen of Jamaica on the advice of the Jamaican prime minister. In Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands, the Prime Minister's advice is based on the result of a vote in the national parliament.

Governors-General who were royal Princes
Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught.jpg
the Duke of Connaught, son of Queen Victoria, was Governor-General of both Canada and South Africa
Earlofathlone.jpg
the Earl of Athlone, brother of Queen Mary, was Governor General of both Canada and South Africa

The formalities for appointing governors-general are not the same in all the realms. For example: When appointed, a Governor-General of Australia issues a proclamation in his own name, countersigned by the head of government and under the Great Seal of Australia, formally announcing that he has been appointed by the monarch's commission, previously issued also under the Great Seal of Australia. [7] The practice in Canada is to include in the governor general's proclamation of appointment, issued under the Great Seal of Canada, [8] the monarch's commission naming the governor general as Commander-in-Chief of the Canadian Forces [8] [9] Also dissimilar among the realms are the powers of governors-general. The Belizean constitution provides the governor-general with the power to assent or to withhold assent to laws, [10] while Papua New Guinea has no requirement for royal assent at all, with laws entering into force when certified as having been passed in Parliament by the Speaker. [11]

Commonwealth countries with a governor-general

Commonwealth realmFrom
Antigua and Barbuda 1981 [12]
Australia 1901 [13]
Bahamas 1973 [14]
Barbados 1966 [15]
Belize 1981 [16]
Canada 1867 [17]
Grenada 1974 [18]
Jamaica 1962 [19]
New Zealand 1917 [20]
Papua New Guinea 1975
Saint Kitts and Nevis 1983 [21]
Saint Lucia 1979 [22]
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 1979 [23]
Solomon Islands 1978
Tuvalu 1978 [24]

Other attributes

Different realms have different constitutional arrangements governing who acts in place of the governor-general in the event of his or her death, resignation, or incapacity.

Former Commonwealth realms

The title has been used in many former British colonies, which became independent realms and then later became republics. Each of these realms had a governor-general.

In Africa

In the Americas

In Asia

In Europe

In Oceania

Other colonial and similar usage

Belgium

France

The equivalent word in French is gouverneur général, used in the following colonies:

Furthermore, in Napoleonic Europe successive French Governors-general were appointed by Napoleon I in:

Japan

From 1910 to 1945, Japanese-administered Korea had a governor-general. From 1905 to 1910, Japan had a resident-general in Korea.

Netherlands

From 1691 to 1948 the Dutch appointed a gouverneur-generaal ("governor-general") to govern the Netherlands East Indies, now Indonesia.

While in the Caribbean, various other titles were used, Curaçao had three Governors-General between 1816 and 1820:

Portugal

The equivalent word in Portuguese is governador-geral. This title was only used for the governors of the major colonies, indicating that they had, under their authority, several subordinate governors. In most of the colonies, lower titles, mainly governador (governor) or formerly captain-major (capitão-mor), prevailed

Philippines

The Philippines from the 16th through the 20th century had a series of governors-general during the Spanish and American colonial periods, as well as the Japanese Occupation of the Philippines during World War II

Spain

From 21 November 1564 the Spanish East Indies had a governor-general, which was under the Viceroy of New Spain based in Mexico. After the successful Mexican War of Independence in 1821, the governor-general reported directly to Spain.

United States

future US President William Howard Taft was the First American Governor General of the Philippines William Howard Taft.jpg
future US President William Howard Taft was the First American Governor General of the Philippines

From 1899 to 1935 under the Insular Government, the Philippines was administered by a series of governors-general, first military and then civilian, appointed by the United States Federal Government.

Other Western usage

Greece

The Balkan Wars of 1912–13 led to the Greek acquisition of the so-called "New Lands" (Epirus, Macedonia, Crete and the islands of the eastern Aegean), almost doubling the country's territory. Instead of fully incorporating these new lands into Greece by dividing them into prefectures, the Ottoman administrative system continued in existence for a while, and Law ΔΡΛΔ΄ of 1913 established five governorates-general (Γενικαὶ Διοικήσεις, sing. Γενική Διοίκησις): Epirus, Macedonia, Crete, Aegean and SamosIkaria. The governors-general had wide-ranging authority in their territories, and were almost autonomous of the government in Athens.

Law 524 in 1914 abolished the governorates-general and divided the New Lands into regular prefectures, but in 1918 Law 1149 re-instated them as a superordinate administrative level above the prefectures, with Macedonia now divided in two governorates-general, those of Thessaloniki and KozaniFlorina. The governors-general of Thessaloniki, Crete and Epirus were also given ministerial rank. To these was added the Governorate-General of Thrace in 1920–22, comprising Western Thrace and Eastern Thrace (returned to Turkey in the Armistice of Mudanya in 1922). The extensive but hitherto legally rather undefined powers of the governors-general created friction and confusion with other government branches, until their remit was exactly delineated in 1925. The governorates-general, except for that of Thessaloniki, were abolished in 1928, but re-established in December 1929—for Crete, Epirus, Thrace, and Macedonia—and delegated practically all ministerial authorities for their respective areas. Over the next decade, however, in a see-saw of legislative measures that in turns gave and took away authority, they gradually lost most of their powers in favour of the prefectures and the central government in Athens.

Following liberation from the Axis occupation, in 1945 the Governorate-General of Northern Greece was established, initially with subordinate governorates for West Macedonia, Central Macedonia, East Macedonia, and Thrace, the first three of which were then grouped anew into a new Governorate-General of Macedonia, albeit still subject to the Governorate-General of Northern Greece. This awkward arrangement lasted until 1950, when the administration of Macedonia was streamlined, the junior governorates abolished and only the Governorate-General of Northern Greece retained. Finally, in 1955, the Governorate-General of Northern Greece was transformed into the Ministry of Northern Greece, and all other governorates-general elsewhere in Greece were abolished.

Other

Asian counterparts

See also

Note

In Canada the title "Governor General" is always used unhyphenated. In Australia and New Zealand, the term is always hyphenated. [25] [26]

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References

  1. See, e.g., Markwell, Donald (2016). Constitutional Conventions and the Headship of State: Australian Experience. Connor Court. ISBN   9781925501155.
  2. 1 2 IRNA, Online Edition. "Paris for further cultural cooperation with Iran". Archived from the original on 23 October 2007. Retrieved 21 October 2007.
  3. Heard, Andrew (1990), "Canadian Independence", Vancouver: Simon Fraser University https://www.sfu.ca/~aheard/324/Independence.html , retrieved 25 August 2010Missing or empty |title= (help)
  4. In particular, see the history of the Governor General of Australia
  5. Letter from the Queen's Private Secretary to the Speaker of the House of Representatives of Australia of 17 November 1975, at The Whitlam Dismissal, retrieved 15 February 2006.
  6. Constitution, s 2; Australia Act 1986 (Cth and UK), s 7.
  7. Proclamatrion, 28 March 2014
  8. 1 2 Proclamation, February 1995
  9. Governor-General's Role
  10. Constitution of Belize - Organization of American States
  11. "Papua New Guinea: Constitution of the Independent State of Papua New Guinea".
  12. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 9 September 2010. Retrieved 24 November 2010.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  13. gg.gov.au
  14. "The Government of Bahamas - Landing Page". Bahamas.gov.bs. Retrieved 25 August 2013.
  15. Archived 20 August 2010 at the Wayback Machine
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