Decolonization

Children during the 2007 Tokelau Self-Determination Referendum. UN Photo/Lone Jessen
Children during the 2007 Tokelau Self-Determination Referendum. UN Photo/Lone Jessen

In a vast political reshaping of the world, more than 80 former colonies have gained independence since the creation of the United Nations in 1945. The Organization is still working to accelerate the decolonization of 17 remaining Non-self-Governing Territories, home to nearly 2 million people.

The Department of Political Affairs advises the United Nations Special Committee on Decolonization (also known as the Committee of Twenty-Four/C-24), whose role is to assess progress in decolonization and make recommendations to the General Assembly on ways to help eliminate all remaining vestiges of colonialism.

Among its functions, DPA's Decolonization Unit:
  • Monitors political, economic and social developments in each of the 17 remaining Non-Self-Governing Territories on the United Nations list, and prepares annual working papers on each Territory;
  • Works with the Department of Public Information to prepare informational materials for the Territories, explaining the options available to them in moving toward full self-government based on the U.N. Charter;
  • Provides substantive advice for the Special Committee and the 4th Committee of the ​General Assembly, where petitioners from the Territories speak about the concerns and aspirations of their people;
  • Provides political advice for the Special Committee on visits to Territories, as well as for regional decolonization seminars held annually in the Pacific or the Caribbean, bringing together representatives of the Territories and members of the Special Committee;
  • Maintains the United Nations website on Decolonization, in coordination with the Department of Public Information.