|UN General Assembly
Resolution 66 (I)
United Nations General Assembly Resolution A/RES/66 (I) dated 14 January 1946
|Date||14 December 1946|
|Meeting no.||Sixty fourth|
|Subject||Transmission of information under Article 73e of the Charter [relating to non-self-governing territories]|
The United Nations list of Non-Self-Governing Territories is a list of places that the United Nations General Assembly deems to be "non-self-governing" and subject to the decolonization process. Chapter XI of the United Nations Charter embodies a "Declaration on Non-Self-Governing Territories" which declares that the interests of the occupants of dependent territories are paramount and requires member states of the United Nations in control of non-self-governing territories to submit annual information reports concerning the development of those territories. Since 1946, the General Assembly has maintained a list of non-self governing territories under member states' control. Since its inception, dozens of territories have been removed from the list, typically when they attained independence or internal self-government, while other territories have been added as new administering countries joined the United Nations or the General Assembly reassessed the status of certain territories.
The United Nations Charter contains a Declaration Concerning Non-Self-Governing Territories. In Chapter XI, of said charter, the ¨Declaration Regarding Non-Self-Governing Territories¨, specifically the Article 73 point ¨e¨ in the Charter, it states that all member States agree to report to the United Nations, annually, on the development of non-self-governing territories under their control. The initial List of Non-Self-Governing Territories was created by compiling lists of dependent territories submitted by the administering States themselves. In several instances, administering States were later allowed to remove dependent territories from the list, either unilaterally (as in the case of many French overseas departments and territories), or by vote of the General Assembly (as in the cases of Puerto Rico, Greenland, the Netherlands Antilles, and Suriname).
The list draws its origins from the period of colonialism and the Charter's concept of non-self-governing territories. As an increasing number of formerly colonized countries became UN members, the General Assembly increasingly asserted its authority to place additional territories on the List and repeatedly declared that only the General Assembly had the authority to authorize a territory's being removed from the list upon attainment of any status other than full independence. For example, when Portugal joined the United Nations it contended that it controlled no non-self-governing territories, claiming that areas such as Angola and Mozambique were an integral part of the Portuguese state, but the General Assembly rejected this position. Similarly, Western Sahara was added in 1963 when it was a Spanish colony. The same can be said about the situation of Namibia (removed upon its independence in 1990), which was seen, due to its former status as a League of Nations mandate territory, as a vestige of German colonial legacy in Africa. A set of criteria for determining whether a territory is to be considered "non-self-governing" was established in General Assembly Resolution 1541 (XV) of 1960.
Also in 1960, the General Assembly adopted Resolution 1514 (XV), promulgating the "Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples", which declared that all remaining non-self-governing territories and trust territories were entitled to self-determination and independence. The following year, the General Assembly established the Special Committee on the Situation with Regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples (sometimes referred to as the Special Committee on Decolonization, or the "Committee of 24" because for much of its history the committee was composed of 24 members), which reviews the situation in non-self-governing territories each year and reports to the General Assembly.
The list remains controversial for various reasons:
One reason for controversy is that the list includes some dependencies that have democratically chosen to maintain their current status, or have had referenda in which an insufficient percentage of the population vote for a change of status, or in some cases (such as United States Virgin Islands) simply had an insufficient number of voters participate.
Gibraltar is a prime example of resident desires to remain with the status quo. Gibraltar, a largely self-governing British territory on the tip of the Iberian Peninsula whose territory is claimed by Spain, has twice held a referendum to resolve its status. In the first referendum, held in 1967, the choices in the ballot were either to retain their current status or to become part of Spain. The status quo was favoured by 12,138 votes to 44. In the second referendum, held in 2002, a proposal for a joint British-Spanish administration of the territory was proposed, and was voted down by 17,900 votes to 187 – the "no" vote accounting for more than 85% of Gibraltar's entire voting population. Neither of the referenda, however, gained recognition from the UN, with the 1967 referendum being declared to be in contravention of previous UN resolutions.
The territory of Tokelau divides political opinion in New Zealand. In response to attempts at decolonizing Tokelau, New Zealand journalist Michael Field wrote in 2004: "The UN ... is anxious to rid the world of the last remaining vestiges of colonialism by the end of the decade. It has a list of 16 territories around the world, virtually none of which wants to be independent to any degree." Field further notes that Patuki Isaako, who was head of Tokelau's government at the time of a UN seminar on decolonization in 2004, informed the United Nations that his country had no wish to be decolonized, and that Tokelauans had opposed the idea of decolonization ever since the first visit by UN officials in 1976.
In 2006, a UN-supervised referendum on decolonization was held in Tokelau, where 60.07% of voters supported the offer of self-government. However, the terms of the referendum required a two-thirds majority to vote in favor of self-government. A second referendum was held in 2007, in which 64.40% of Tokelauans supported self-government, falling short of the two-thirds majority by 16 votes. This led New Zealand politician and former diplomat John Hayes, on behalf of the National Party, to state that "Tokelau did the right thing to resist pressure from [the New Zealand government] and the United Nations to pursue self-government". In May 2008, the United Nations' Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urged colonial powers "to complete the decolonization process in every one of the remaining 16 Non-Self-Governing Territories". This led the New Zealand Herald to comment that the United Nations was "apparently frustrated by two failed attempts to get Tokelau to vote for independence from New Zealand".
In March 2013, the autonomous government of the Falkland Islands organised a referendum as to whether the territory should remain a British Overseas Territory. With a 92% turnout, 99.8% of Falkland Islanders voted to maintain that status; only three islanders favoured changing it.
A lack of population and landmass is an issue for at least one territory included on the list: the British overseas territory Pitcairn Islands. With a population of 49 and a total area of 47 km2 (18.1 sq mi), it is too small to be realistically viable as an independent state. Four other territories—Tokelau, Montserrat, the Falkland Islands and Saint Helena—are less populous than any UN member state presently.
In addition, some territories are financially dependent on their administering state.
Another criticism is that a number of the listed territories, such as Bermuda (see Politics of Bermuda), Falkland Islands and Gibraltar, consider themselves completely autonomous and self-governing, with the "administering power" retaining limited oversight over matters such as defence and diplomacy. In past years, there were ongoing disputes between some administering powers and the Decolonization Committee over whether territories such as pre-independence Brunei and the West Indies Associated States should still be considered "non-self-governing", particularly in instances where the administering country was prepared to grant full independence whenever the territory requested it. These disputes became moot as those territories eventually received full independence.
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Territories that have achieved a status described by the administering countries as internally self-governing – such as Puerto Rico, the Netherlands Antilles, and the Cook Islands – have been removed from the list by vote of the General Assembly, often under pressure of the administering countries. In 1972, for example, Hong Kong (then administered by the United Kingdom) and Macau (then administered by Portugal) were removed from the list at the request of the People's Republic of China, which had just been recognized as holding China's seat at the United Nations.
Some territories that have been annexed and incorporated into the legal framework of the controlling state (such as the overseas departments of France) are considered by the UN to have been decolonized, since they then no longer constitute "non-self-governing" entities; their populations are assumed to have agreed to merge with the former parent state. However, in 1961, the General Assembly voted to end this treatment for the "overseas provinces" of Portugal such as Angola and Mozambique, which were active foci of United Nations attention until they attained independence in the mid-1970s.
On 2 December 1986, New Caledonia, an overseas territory of France, was reinstated on the list of non-self-governing territories, an action to which France objected. Within France it has had the status of a collectivité sui generis, or a one-of-a-kind community, since 1999. Under the 1998 Nouméa Accord, its Territorial Congress has the right to call for a referendum on independence between 2014 and 2018.
French Polynesia was also reinstated on the list on 17 May 2013, in somewhat contentious circumstances. Having been re-elected President of French Polynesia in 2011 (the territory being largely self-governing), Oscar Temaru asked for it to be re-inscribed on the list; it had been removed in 1947. (French Polynesia is categorised by France as an overseas country, in recognition of its self-governing status.) On 5 May 2013, Temaru's Union for Democracy party lost the legislative election to Gaston Flosse's pro-autonomy but anti-independence Tahoera'a Huiraatira party. At this stage, the United Nations General Assembly was due to discuss French Polynesia's re-inscription on the list twelve days later, in accordance with a motion tabled by the Solomon Islands, Tuvalu and Nauru. On 16 May, the Assembly of French Polynesia, with its new anti-independence majority, adopted a motion asking the United Nations not to restore the country to the list. On 17 May, despite French Polynesia's opposition, and France's, the country was restored to the list of Non-Self-Governing Territories. Temaru was present for the vote, on the final day of his mandate as President. The United Nations affirmed "the inalienable right of the people of French Polynesia to self-determination and independence".
Also controversial are the criteria set down in 1960 to 1961 by the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 1514 (XV), United Nations General Assembly Resolution 1541 (XV), Principle 12 of the Annex, and United Nations General Assembly Resolution 1654 (XVI) which only focused on colonies of the Western world, namely Australia, Belgium, Denmark, France, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States. This list of administering states was not expanded afterwards.
Nevertheless, some of the 111 members who joined the UN after 1960 gained independence from countries not covered by Resolution 1541 and were themselves not classified as "Non-Self-Governing Territories" by the UN. Of these that joined the UN between 1960 and 2008, 11 were independent before 1960 and 71 were included on the list (some as a group). Twenty new UN countries resulted from breakup of Second World states: six were part of Yugoslavia, two were part of Czechoslovakia, and 12 were part of the Soviet Union (Ukraine and Belarus already had UN seats before the dissolution of the USSR, whose seat was reused by the Russian Federation without acceding anew). Out of the other nine, seven[which?] (mostly Arab) were colonies or protectorates of the "Western" countries, and one each was a non-self-governing part of Ethiopia (later independent Eritrea) and Pakistan (East Pakistan, later independent Bangladesh). Territories like Tibet (administered by China) and Siberia (or parts thereof; administered by the Soviet Union, later by Russia) have never been on the list. Western New Guinea, annexed involuntarily by Indonesia and subjected to mass killings of independence activists ever since, is also not on the list.
The following territories are currently included on the list.
|Continent||Name||Administering state||Domestic legal status||Other claimant(s)||Population||Area||See also|
|Africa||Western Sahara[A]|| Morocco (de facto) /
Spain (de jure) /
Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (partial)
|Disputed|| Morocco /
Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic
|531,000||266,000 km2 (102,703 mi2)||Political status of Western Sahara|
|Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha||United Kingdom||Overseas Territory||None||5,396||310 km2 (120 mi2)||Politics of Saint Helena|
|Europe||Gibraltar||Spain||29,752||6 km2 (2 mi2)||Disputed status of Gibraltar|
|South America||Falkland Islands||Argentina||2,500||12,173 km2 (4,700 mi2)||Sovereignty of the Falkland Islands|
|North America||Anguilla||None||14,108||96 km2 (37 mi2)||Politics of Anguilla|
|Bermuda||62,000||57 km2 (22 mi2)||Politics of Bermuda|
|British Virgin Islands||28,103||153 km2 (59 mi2)||Politics of the British Virgin Islands|
|Cayman Islands||55,500||264 km2 (102 mi2)||Foreign relations of the Cayman Islands|
|Montserrat||5,000||103 km2 (40 mi2)||Government of Montserrat|
|Turks and Caicos Islands||31,458||948 km2 (366 mi2)||Politics of the Turks and Caicos Islands|
|Oceania||Pitcairn Islands||50||36 km2 (14 mi2)||Politics of the Pitcairn Islands|
|Tokelau||New Zealand||Territory||1,411||12 km2 (5 mi2)||Politics of Tokelau|
|French Polynesia[B]||France||Overseas collectivity||271,000||4,000 km2 (1,544 mi2)||Politics of French Polynesia|
|New Caledonia||Special collectivity||252,000||18,575 km2 (7,172 mi2)||Politics of New Caledonia|
|American Samoa||United States||Unincorporated unorganized territory||55,519||200 km2 (77 mi2)||Politics of American Samoa|
|Guam||Unincorporated organized territory||159,358||540 km2 (208 mi2)||Politics of Guam|
|North America||United States Virgin Islands||106,405||352 km2 (136 mi2)||Politics of the United States Virgin Islands|
The following territories were originally listed by UN General Assembly Resolution 66 (I) of 14 December 1946 as Trust and Non-Self-Governing territory. The dates show the year of independence or other change in a territory's status which led to their removal from the list, after which information was no longer submitted to the United Nations.
|Continent||Name||Change in status||Current status||Administering state||Population||Area / km2||Area / mi2||Year of removal||See also|
|North America||Greenland||Incorporated into Denmark as Greenland County (1953). Gained home rule as a Country within the Kingdom of Denmark (1979). Increased autonomy (2009).||Country within the Kingdom of Denmark||Denmark||57,564||2,166,086||836,330||1954||Politics of Greenland|
|Saint Pierre and Miquelon||Became an overseas territory||Overseas collectivity of France||France||7,044||242||93||1947||Politics of Saint Pierre and Miquelon|
|Guadeloupe||Became an overseas department||Overseas department of Guadeloupe and overseas collectivities of Saint-Barthelemy and Saint-Martin of France||408,000||1,628||629||Politics of Guadeloupe|
|Asia||British Hong Kong||Removed from the list on request of China||Special Administrative Region of Hong Kong of the People's Republic of China) (since 1 July 1997)||United Kingdom||7,018,636||1,092||422||1972||Politics of Hong Kong|
|Portuguese Macau||Removed from the list on request of China||Special Administrative Region of Macau of the People's Republic of China) (since 20 December 1999)||Portugal||545,674||28||11||Politics of Macau|
|North America||Martinique||Became an overseas department||Overseas department of France||France||401,000||1,128||436||1947||Politics of Martinique|
|Netherlands Antilles||Granted more autonomy||Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten are constituent countries of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the other remaining islands are special municipalities of the Netherlands.||Netherlands||225,369||960||371||1951||Politics of the Netherlands Antilles|
|Puerto Rico||Became a Commonwealth||Commonwealth of the United States||United States||3,958,128||8,870||3,420||1952||Political status of Puerto Rico|
|Asia||Cocos (Keeling) Islands||Voted to integrate into Australia||External territory of Australia||Australia||596||14||5||1984||Shire of Cocos|
|Africa||Réunion||Became an overseas department||Overseas department of France||France||793,000||2,512||970||1947||Politics of Réunion|
|North America||Alaska||Granted Statehood||49th State of the United States||United States||683,478||1,700,130||656,424||1959||Legal status of Alaska|
|Panama Canal Zone||Removed from the list on request of Panama||Part of Colón and Panamá provinces of Panama||1947||Politics of Panama|
|Oceania||Cook Islands||Gained self-rule||Free association with New Zealand||New Zealand||12,271||237||92||1965||Politics of the Cook Islands|
|French Polynesia[a]||Became an overseas territory||French Polynesia and Wallis and Futuna overseas collectivities of France||France||298,256||4,441||1,715||1947||Politics of French Polynesia and Wallis and Futuna|
|Hawaii||Granted Statehood||50th State of the United States||United States||1,283,388||28,311||10,931||1959||Legal status of Hawaii|
|Northern Mariana Islands||Became a Commonwealth||Commonwealth of the United States||53,883||168||65||1990|
|New Caledonia[b]||Became an overseas territory||Special Collectivity of France||France||224,824||19,060||7,359||1947||Politics of New Caledonia|
|Niue||Gained self-rule||Free association with New Zealand||New Zealand||1,444||260||100||1974||Politics of Niue|
|South America||French Guiana||Became an overseas department||Overseas department of France||France||209,000||83,534||32,253||1947||Politics of French Guiana|
|Continent||Non-Self-Governing Territory||State joined||Current status||Administering state||Population||Area / km2||Area / mi2||Year of removal||See also|
|Africa||British Cameroons||Northern Cameroons joined Nigeria
Southern Cameroons joined Cameroon
|Adamawa and Taraba states of Nigeria, Northwest and Southwest provinces of Cameroon||United Kingdom||1961||Politics of Nigeria
Politics of Cameroon
|British Togoland||Joined British Gold Coast colony||Volta, Northern and Upper East Region of Ghana||1957||Foreign relations of Ghana|
|Asia||North Borneo||Incorporated into Malaya to form Malaysia||Malaysian state of Sabah and the federal territory of Labuan.||285,000||76,115||29,388||1963||Malaysia Agreement|
|French India||Annexed by India||Puducherry union territory and Chandannagar of West Bengal state of India||France||973,829||492||190||1947||Puducherry Legislative Assembly|
|Netherlands New Guinea||Annexed by Indonesia as Irian Jaya||Papua and West Papua provinces of Indonesia||Netherlands||420,540||162,371||1963||Act of Free Choice|
|Africa||Ifni||Integrated into Morocco||Sidi Ifni, Guelmim-Oued Noun, Morocco||Spain||51,517||1,502||580||1969||Politics of Morocco|
|Asia||Portuguese India||Annexed by India||The Indian state of Goa and the union territories of Dadra and Nagar Haveli and of Daman and Diu||Portugal||1961|
|Africa||São João Batista de Ajuda||Integrated into the Republic of Dahomey (now Benin)||Ouidah commune, Atlantique department, Benin||Politics of Benin|
|Administering state||Population||Area / km2||Area / mi2||Year of removal||See also|
|Asia||Aden Protectorate||South Yemen||United Kingdom||285,192||111,013||1967|
|French Indochina||Democratic Republic of Vietnam||France||1945|
|State of Vietnam||1949|
|Kingdom of Laos|
|Africa||Portuguese Angola||Angola||Portugal||1,246,700||481,354||1975||Including the enclave of Cabinda|
|Belgian Congo||Congo Léopoldville||Belgium||16,610,000||2,344,858||905,355||1960|
|British Somaliland||State of Somaliland||United Kingdom||Joined the Trust Territory of Somalia within a week to form Somalia|
|Spanish Guinea||Equatorial Guinea||Spain||28,051||10,828||1968|
|French Cameroun||Cameroon||France||1960||Trust Territory|
|Gambia Colony and Protectorate||The Gambia||United Kingdom||10,380||4,007||1965|
|French Equatorial Africa||French Chad||Chad||France||1960|
|French Congo||Republic of the Congo|
|Ubangi Shari||Central African Republic|
|Trust Territory of Somaliland||Somalia||Italy||Joined the State of Somaliland to form Somalia|
|Colony of Kenya||Kenya||United Kingdom||1963||Formed by the unification of the Colony of Kenya and the Kenya Protectorate|
|Sultanate of Zanzibar||Protectorate of Kenya.Formed by the unification of the Colony of Kenya and the Kenya Protectorate.Under Zanzibari sovereignty, administered by the UK|
|French protectorate of Morocco||Morocco||France||1956|
|British Nigeria||Nigeria||United Kingdom||1960|
|Portuguese São Tomé and Príncipe||São Tomé and Príncipe||Portugal||1,001||372||1975|
|Sierra Leone Colony and Protectorate||Sierra Leone||United Kingdom||71,740||27,699||1961|
|Southern Rhodesia||Zimbabwe||United Kingdom||6,930,000||390,580||150,804||1980|
|Tanganyika||Tanganyika||1963||Trust Territory.Later joined with the People's Republic of Zanzibar and Pemba to form the United Republic of Tanganyika and Zanzibar, now Tanzania|
|Oceania||Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands||Marshall Islands||United States||68,000||180||70||1990||An independent state in free association with the United States|
|Federated States of Micronesia||111,000||702||271|
|Uganda Protectorate||Uganda||United Kingdom||1962|
|French West Africa||French Dahomey||Dahomey||France||1960|
|Colony of Niger||Upper Volta|
|South West Africa||Namibia||South Africa||2,088,669||825,418||318,696||1990||Foreign relations of Namibia|
|Zanzibar||People's Republic of Zanzibar and Pemba||United Kingdom||2,643||1,020||1963||Later joined with the Republic of Tanganyika to form the United Republic of Tanganyika and Zanzibar, now Tanzania|
|North America||Bahamas||The Bahamas||13,878||5,358||1973|
|Africa||Portuguese Cape Verde||Cape Verde||Portugal||4,033||1,557||1975|
|Europe||British Cyprus||Cyprus||United Kingdom||9,251||3,572||1960|
|Colony of Malta||Malta||316||121||1964|
|British Leeward Islands||Antigua||Antigua and Barbuda||1981|
|Saint Christopher-Nevis-Anguilla||St. Kitts and Nevis||1983||separated from Anguilla, which is still a non-self-governing territory|
|Colony of Jamaica||Jamaica||11,100||4,444||1962|
|Trinidad and Tobago||Trinidad and Tobago||5,128||1,978|
|British Windward Islands||Dominica||1978|
|St. Vincent and the Grenadines|
|Asia||Portuguese Timor||Indonesia||Portugal||15,007||5,794||1975||Indonesian occupation of East Timor|
|East Timor||East Timor||Indonesia||688,711||15,007||5,794||2002||Politics of East Timor|
|British Mauritius||Mauritius||United Kingdom||2,040||787||1968|
|Asia||Dutch East Indies||Indonesia||Netherlands||1950|
|Asia||Federation of South Arabia||South Yemen||1967|
|Malayan Union||Federation of Malaya ||132,364||51,106||1957||Later became Malaysia|
|Singapore||4,608,167||693||268||1963||Singapore briefly joined Malaysia incorporated into Malaya to form a state of Malaysia in 1963|
|Singapore||Singapore ||Malaysia||4,608,167||693||268||1965||Regained independence in 1965.|
|Oceania||Fiji Islands||Fiji||United Kingdom||1970|
|Gilbert and Ellice Islands||Kiribati||1979|
|Trust Territory of Nauru||Nauru||Australia||21||8||1968|
|New Hebrides||Vanuatu||Anglo-French Condominium||100,000||12,189||4,706||1980|
|Territory of Papua and New Guinea||Papua New Guinea||Australia||1975|
|British Solomon Islands||Solomon Islands||United Kingdom||28,896||11,157||1978|
|Western Samoa Trust Territory||Western Samoa||New Zealand||1962|
|South America||Dutch Guiana||Suriname||Netherlands||475,996||163,270||63,039||1975||Politics of Suriname|
|British Guiana||Guyana||United Kingdom||1966|
|Asia||Colony of Sarawak||Sarawak||124,450||48,050||1963||Later Incorporated into Malaya to form a state of Malaysia|
Gibraltar is an overseas territory of the United Kingdom and is self-governing in all matters but defence.
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