The Portuguese Colonial Issue in the United Nations and the Southern Africa Regional Context

The United Nations has been regarded as a leading player in the development of the international status attached to the colonial territories after World War II. With the establishment of the Decolonization Committee in 1961 the situation in the Portuguese colonies, Southern Rhodesia and South-West Africa became the main priority in the UN agenda. In the debates regarding Portuguese colonialism, the Afro-Asian majority always stressed the interconnection among Portugal and the white regimes of Southern Africa. From 1965 onward the developments in Rhodesia and South-West Africa triggered the radicalization of the UN decisions against Portugal. Furthermore, recognizing the regional dimension, in the period of 1968-1970 the Portuguese, Rhodesian and South African policies were analyzed in joint sessions. Although the UN hesitated between radicalism and moderation, we can notice an attempt to apply similar solutions for the settlement of disputes in Southern Africa. Since the Organization was decisive for the mutation in attitudes and practices towards self-determination, my proposal is designed to understand how the debates concerning Portuguese colonialism took place under the influence of the developments in Southern Rhodesia and South-West Africa.

About the Author

Aurora Almada e Santos

I am a researcher at the Contemporary History Institute of the New University of Lisbon, in Portugal. My scientific area of activity is the International History, understood as a broad field with an expansive view of the international relations. Applying the International History as an analytical tool, my domain of specialization is the international dimension of the struggle for self-determination and independence of Portuguese colonies. Having as major focus the role played by the international organizations, in my master and PhD I gave special attention to the activities developed by the United Nations regarding the Portuguese colonial issue. I intended to demonstrate that in the analysis of Portuguese decolonization it is necessary to take into account the UN pressure. My academic activities include, among other tasks, the publishing of articles and book chapters, the participation in conferences in Portugal and abroad, the organization of publications and conferences, the review of articles, the collaboration in the executive board of a peer review journal, the contribution for working groups and the membership in professional associations. In addition, over the years I acquired some experience as archivist in the Lisbon Municipality Archive.


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