The United Nations list of Non-Self-Governing Territories is a list of countries that, according to the United Nations, are non-decolonized. The list was initially prepared in 1946 pursuant to Chapter XI of the United Nations Charter, and has been updated by the General Assembly on recommendation of the Special Committee on Decolonization and its predecessors. Only permanently inhabited territories are considered for inclusion in this list, excluding many remote atolls (e.g., Clipperton Island and Kingman Reef) and Southern Ocean territories (e.g., French Southern and Antarctic Lands and Heard Island and McDonald Islands). The list currently contains 16 entries, all of which would become microstates: only four have populations in excess of 100,000, and the smallest has a population of only 48.
The list draws its origins from the period of colonialism and the Charter's concept of non-self-governing territories. Thus, Western Sahara was initially included in 1963 by Moroccan demand 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 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 the remaining controversy is the fact that the list includes many dependencies that, some contend, have democratically chosen to maintain their territorial status, and rejected independence (or in some cases the territory periodically organizes referenda, as in the United States Virgin Islands, but there is insufficient voter participation). Other non-self-determining areas are excluded.
Another example is Tokelau. 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". Tokelau is seen by some as a case in point. 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 voters rejected the offer of self-government. When the first referendum failed, a second was held in 2007, and Tokelauans rejected it again. 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". The United Nations most likely supported there being a referendum because clear majorities of Tokelauans support independence. This was reinforced by the results of the referendum, which show that over 60% (60.07% in the first referendum, and 64.40% in the second) voted for independence. However, the terms of the referendum required a two-thirds majority to vote in favor of independence. On the second occasion, the proposition failed by just 16 votes. 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".
The government of Morocco has repeatedly called for Spain to transfer the sovereignty of Ceuta and Melilla, along with uninhabited islets such as the islands of Alhuceima, Velez and the Perejil islet Isla Perejil, drawing comparisons with Spain's territorial claim to Gibraltar. In both cases, the national governments and local populations of the disputed territories reject these claims by a large majority, similar to the rejection of Spanish sovereignty by the population of Gibraltar. The Spanish position states that both Ceuta and Melilla are integral parts of the Spanish state, and have been since the 15th century, whereas Gibraltar, being a British Overseas Territory, is not and never has been part of the United Kingdom, although it was ceded in perpetuity to the British Crown and remains British territory. However, Morocco denies these claims and maintains that the Spanish presence in Ceuta and the other presidios on its coast is a remnant of the colonial past which should be ended - similar to the Spanish statement about Gibraltar.
Another criticism is that a number of the listed territories, such as Bermuda, consider themselves completely autonomous and self-governing, with the "administering power" retaining limited oversight over matters such as defence and diplomacy.
Territories that have achieved a status described by the administering countries ("the colonizing power") 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 colonizing power or similar circumstances. 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. Many critics charge the Committee that drafts this list with the intent of using it as a political instrument.
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 then-"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 December 2, 1986, New Caledonia, then an overseas territory, was reinstated on the list of non-self-governing territories, an action that France protested. New Caledonia is the only French-administered territory now on the list; it has enjoyed 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 after 2014.
Another point of controversy the criteria set down in 1960 by Resolution 1541 (XV), which only focused on colonies of the Western World, namely Australia, Belgium, Denmark, France, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, United Kingdom, and United States. Of the 111 members who joined the UN between 1960 and 2008, 41 were never included on the list. Of those 41 in 1960, eight (mostly Arab) were ruled by the "Western" countries but 12 were ruled by the Soviet Union (now Russia), two by Czechoslovakia (now dissolved), one by Ethiopia, one each by Pakistan and India, and 11 by themselves, namely Andorra, Bhutan, Germany, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Mongolia (still claimed by the Republic of China), Oman, People's Democratic Republic of Korea, Republic of Korea, San Marino, and Switzerland. Hindsight consideration of the list as incomplete often results in criticism from independence activists for Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization members like the Tibetan independence movement, which sees China as another colonial power. In 1993, the London Conference of International Lawyers did recommand to "Calls in the United Nations General Assembly to expand the mandate of the Special Committee on Decolonization to include Tibet in its mandate"
|Continent||Country name||Main administering country||Status||Other claimants||Population||Area / km2||Area / mi2||See also|
|Africa *||Western Sahara *||*||*||Morocco SADR *||393,831||266,000||102,700||Foreign relations of Western Sahara *|
|Atlantic Ocean||Saint Helena and dependencies||United Kingdom||Overseas territory||None||7,601||413||159.5||Politics of Saint Helena|
|Atlantic Ocean||Bermuda||United Kingdom||Overseas territory||None||67,837 (listed as 6,997)||53.3||20.6||Politics of Bermuda|
|Atlantic Ocean||Falkland Islands||United Kingdom||Overseas territory||Argentina||3,140||12,200||4,700||Sovereignty of the Falkland Islands|
|Caribbean||Anguilla||United Kingdom||Overseas territory||None||14,108||102||39.4||Politics of Anguilla|
|Caribbean||British Virgin Islands||United Kingdom||Overseas territory||None||24,041||153||59.1||Politics of the British Virgin Islands|
|Caribbean||Cayman Islands||United Kingdom||Overseas territory||None||47,862||262||101.2||Foreign relations of the Cayman Islands|
|Caribbean||Montserrat||United Kingdom||Overseas territory||None||5,079||102||39.4||Government of Montserrat|
|Caribbean||Turks and Caicos Islands||United Kingdom||Overseas territory||None||22,352||430||166.0||Politics of the Turks and Caicos Islands|
|Caribbean||United States Virgin Islands||United States||Unincorporated organized territory||None||109,840||346.36||133.730||Politics of the United States Virgin Islands|
|Europe||Gibraltar||United Kingdom||Overseas territory||Spain||28,002||6.5||2.5||Disputed status of Gibraltar|
|Pacific Ocean||American Samoa||United States||Unincorporated unorganized territory||None||64,827||199||76.8||Politics of American Samoa|
|Pacific Ocean||Guam||United States||Unincorporated organized territory||None||175,877||541.3||209.0||Politics of Guam|
|Pacific Ocean||New Caledonia||France||Sui Generis Collectivity||None||224,824||19,060||7,359||Politics of New Caledonia|
|Pacific Ocean||Pitcairn Islands||United Kingdom||Overseas territory||None||48||47||18.1||Politics of the Pitcairn Islands|
|Pacific Ocean||Tokelau||New Zealand||Territory||None||1,433||10.||3.9||Politics of Tokelau|
The following territories have all been on the List of Non-Self-Governing Territories in the past. The date, former administering/colonial power (where not obvious from the name), and reason for removal from the List are given for each.
|Continent||Country name||Current administering country||Current Status||Administering country before change||Population||Area / km2||Area / mi2||Year of change||See also|
|Africa||Cameroons Trust Territory: Northern Cameroons||Nigeria||Adamawa and Taraba states||United Kingdom||1961||Politics of Nigeria|
|Africa||Cameroons Trust Territory: Southern Cameroons||Cameroon||Northwest and Southwest provinces||United Kingdom||1961||Politics of Cameroon|
|Africa||Ifni||Morocco||Tiznit wilaya, Souss-Massa-Draâ region||Spain||1969||Politics of Morocco|
|Africa||São João Baptista de Ajuda||Benin||Ouidah commune, Atlantique department||Portugal||1961||Politics of Benin|
|Africa||South West Africa||Namibia||Gained independence in 1990.||South Africa||2,088,669||825,418||318,696||1966||Foreign relations of Namibia|
|Arctic Ocean||Greenland||Denmark||Community within the Kingdom of Denmark||Denmark||57,564||2,166,086||836,330.5||1954||Politics of Greenland|
|Asia||French Establishments in India||India||Puducherry union territory||France||973,829||492||190.0||1947||Pondicherry Legislative Assembly|
|Asia||Goa and dependencies||India||Goa state and Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu union territories||Portugal||1961||Politics of India|
|Asia||Hong Kong||People's Republic of China||Special Administrative Region||United Kingdom||7,018,636||1,092||421.6||1972||Politics of Hong Kong|
|Asia||Macau and dependencies||People's Republic of China||Special Administrative Region||Portugal||545,674||28.2||10.89||1972||Politics of Macau|
|Atlantic Ocean||Saint Pierre and Miquelon||France||Overseas collectivity||France||7,044||242||93.4||1947||Politics of Saint Pierre and Miquelon|
|Caribbean||Guadeloupe and Saint-Martin and Saint-Barthelemy dependencies||France||Guadeloupe: overseas department, Saint-Barthelemy and Saint-Martin: overseas collectivities||France||408,000||1,628||628.6||1947||Politics of Guadeloupe|
|Caribbean||Martinique||France||Overseas department||France||401,000||1,128||435.5||1947||Politics of Martinique|
|Caribbean||Netherlands Antilles||Netherlands||Constituent country||Netherlands||225,369||960||371||1951||Politics of the Netherlands Antilles|
|Caribbean||Puerto Rico||United States||Unincorporated organized commonwealth||United States||3,958,128||8,870||3,420||1952||Political status of Puerto Rico|
|Indian Ocean||Cocos (Keeling) Islands||Australia||External territory||Australia||596||14||5.4||1984||Shire of Cocos|
|Indian Ocean||East Timor||Timor Leste||Gained independence in 2002||Portugal, Indonesia||1,108,777||15,007||5,794.2||1975||Politics of East Timor|
|Indian Ocean||Réunion||France||Overseas department||France||793,000||2,512||969.9||1947||Politics of Réunion|
|North America||Alaska||United States||State||United States||683,478||1,700,130.||656,424||1959||Government of Alaska|
|North America||Panama Canal Zone||Panama||Part of Colón and Panama provinces||United States||1947||Politics of Panama|
|Pacific Ocean||Cook Islands||New Zealand||Sovereign state in free association with New Zealand||New Zealand||12,271||236.7||93.39||1965||Politics of the Cook Islands|
|Pacific Ocean||French Establishments in Oceania||France||French Polynesia and Wallis and Futuna overseas collectivities||France||298,256||4,441||1,714.7||1947||Politics of French Polynesia and Wallis and Futuna|
|Pacific Ocean||Hawaii||United States||federated State||United States||1,283,388||28,311||10,930.9||1959||Politics of Hawaii|
|Pacific Ocean||New Caledonia, which returned to the list in 1986||France||Sui Generis Collectivity||France||224,824||19,060||7,359||1947||Politics of New Caledonia|
|Pacific Ocean||Niue Island||New Zealand||Sovereign state in free association with New Zealand||New Zealand||1,444||260||100.4||1974||Politics of Niue|
|Pacific Ocean||North Borneo||Malaysia||Sabah State||United Kingdom||1963||Politics of Malaysia|
|Pacific Ocean||Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands||Federated States of Micronesia||Compact of Free Association since 1986||United States||107,665||702||271||1990||Politics of the Federated States of Micronesia|
|Pacific Ocean||Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands||Marshall Islands||Compact of Free Association since 1986||United States||63,174||181.3||70.00||1990||Politics of the Marshall Islands|
|Pacific Ocean||Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands: Northern Mariana Islands||United States||Unincorporated organized commonwealth||United States||86,616||477||184.2||1990||Politics of the Northern Mariana Islands|
|Pacific Ocean||Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands||Palau||Compact of Free Association since 1994||United States||21,093||458||184||1994||Politics of Palau|
|Pacific Ocean||Sarawak||Malaysia||State||United Kingdom||1963||Politics of Malaysia|
|Pacific Ocean||Singapore||Singapore||State of Malaysia 1963—1965, became independent in 1965||United Kingdom||4,608,167||692.7||267.5||1963||Foreign relations of Singapore|
|South America||French Guiana||France||Overseas department||France||209,000||83,534||32,253||1947||Politics of French Guiana|
|South America||Suriname||Suriname||Gained independence in 1975||Netherlands||475,996||163,270||63,038.9||1951||Politics of Suriname|
|Continent||Country name||Main administering country||Administering country before change||Population||Area / km2||Area / mi2||Year of change||See also|
|Asia|| Republic of India
| Republic of India
|Africa||Belgian Congo||Democratic Republic of the Congo||Belgium||1960|
|Africa||British Somaliland||Somalia||United Kingdom||1960|
|Africa||British Togoland||Ghana||United Kingdom||1961|
|Africa||Congo||Republic of the Congo||France||1960|
|Africa||Gold Coast||Ghana||United Kingdom||1957|
|Africa||Northern Rhodesia||Zambia||United Kingdom||1964|
|Africa||São Tomé and Príncipe||São Tomé and Príncipe||Portugal||1975|
|Africa||Sierra Leone||Sierra Leone||United Kingdom||1961|
|Africa||Southern Rhodesia||Zimbabwe||United Kingdom||1980|
|Africa||Ubangi Shari||Central African Republic||France||1960|
|Atlantic Ocean||Bahamas||Bahamas||United Kingdom||1973|
|Atlantic Ocean||Cape Verde||Cape Verde||Portugal||1975|
|Asia / Middle East||Cyprus||Cyprus||United Kingdom||1960|
|Caribbean||Antigua and Barbuda||Antigua and Barbuda||United Kingdom||1981|
|Caribbean||Saint Kitts and Nevis||Saint Kitts and Nevis||United Kingdom||1983|
|Caribbean||Saint Lucia||Saint Lucia||United Kingdom||1979|
|Caribbean||Saint Vincent||Saint Vincent and the Grenadines||United Kingdom||1979|
|Caribbean||Trinidad and Tobago||Trinidad and Tobago||United Kingdom||1962|
|North America||British Honduras||Belize||United Kingdom||1981|
|Indian Ocean||Mauritius||Mauritius||United Kingdom||1968|
|Indian Ocean||Netherlands East Indies||Indonesia||Netherlands||1949|
|Indian Ocean||Seychelles||Seychelles||United Kingdom||1976|
|Pacific Ocean||Brunei||Brunei Darussalam||United Kingdom||1984|
|Pacific Ocean||Fiji Islands||Fiji||United Kingdom||1970|
|Pacific Ocean||Gilbert Islands||Kiribati||United Kingdom||1979|
|Pacific Ocean||Marshall Islands||Marshall Islands||United States||1990|
|Pacific Ocean||Micronesia||Federated States of Micronesia||United States||1990|
|Pacific Ocean||Netherlands New Guinea||Indonesia||Netherlands||1963|
|Pacific Ocean||New Guinea||Papua New Guinea||Australia||1975|
|Pacific Ocean||Palau||Palau||United States||1994|
|Pacific Ocean||Papua||Papua New Guinea||Australia||1975|
|Pacific Ocean||Solomon Islands Protectorate||Solomon Islands||United Kingdom||1978|
|Pacific Ocean||Western Samoa||Samoa||New Zealand||1962|
|South America||British Guiana||Guyana||United Kingdom||1966|