"The Greatest Gathering of World Leaders": Decolonization and Competing Visions of Internationalism at the United Nations

Author: ORCID icon orcid.org/0000-0002-7582-0447
Chang, Vivien, History - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Hitchcock, William, Department of History, University of Virginia

This study investigates the ways in which “new nations” influenced the United Nations (UN). Focusing on the Fifteenth Session of the UN General Assembly, which took place between September 1960 and April 1961, it examines the debates on colonialism and decolonization from the vantages of postcolonial, British, and American actors. As crises of decolonization raged in the Congo, Algeria, and Southern Africa (among other regions), debates on the future of the Third World dominated the General Assembly agenda and, at the initiative of the Afro-Asian bloc, culminated in the adoption of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples (Resolution 1514). This thesis argues that the passing of the declaration—abetted by Third World voices as well as votes—constituted the opening act of the UN's second phase, cementing postcolonial leaders as new power brokers and driving the UN's transformation from a body committed to upholding the status quo international order to an activist organ intent on alleviating unequal economic relations between the Global North and South.

MA (Master of Arts)
Decolonization, Development, United Nations, Cold War, Africa
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