United Nations list of Non-Self-Governing Territories: Wikis


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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.

Current UN Map

Choosing to remain a territory

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".[1] 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".[2] 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".[3] 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".[4]

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.

Completely autonomous dependencies

Another criticism is that a number of the listed territories, such as Bermuda, consider themselves completely autonomous and self-governing,[citation needed] with the "administering power" retaining limited oversight over matters such as defence and diplomacy.

Removed under other circumstances

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.

Status revocation

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.

List not complete

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"[5][6]

Current entries

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


Map of the countries in the UN list:      current      former

Former entries

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.

States that have been removed from the list under any status other than independence

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 Namibia 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[8][9]  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 Flag of Portugal 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


Former colonized territories which have become independent states

Continent Country name Main administering country Administering country before change Population Area / km2 Area / mi2 Year of change See also
Asia India Republic of India
India Republic of India
British Raj British India 1947
Asia  Bangladesh  Bangladesh  Pakistan 162,221,000 147,570 55,599 1971
Africa  Angola  Angola  Portugal 1975
Africa Lesotho Basutoland  Lesotho  United Kingdom 1966
Africa Botswana Bechuanaland  Botswana  United Kingdom 1966
Africa  Belgian Congo  Democratic Republic of the Congo  Belgium 1960
Africa British Somaliland  Somalia  United Kingdom 1960
Africa Gold Coast (British colony) British Togoland  Ghana  United Kingdom 1961
Africa  Congo  Republic of the Congo  France 1960
Africa Togo French Togoland  Togo  France 1960
Africa  Gambia  Gambia  United Kingdom 1965
Africa  Gold Coast  Ghana  United Kingdom 1957
Africa  Guinea  Guinea  France 1958
Africa  Kenya  Kenya  United Kingdom 1963
Africa  Morocco  Morocco  France 1956
Africa  Mozambique  Mozambique  Portugal 1975
Africa  Nigeria  Nigeria  United Kingdom 1960
Africa  Northern Rhodesia  Zambia  United Kingdom 1964
Africa Nyasaland  Malawi  United Kingdom 1964
Africa Portuguese Guinea  Guinea-Bissau  Portugal 1973
Africa São Tomé and Príncipe São Tomé and Príncipe São Tomé and Príncipe São Tomé and Príncipe  Portugal 1975
Africa  Sierra Leone  Sierra Leone  United Kingdom 1961
Africa Italian Somaliland  Somalia  Italy 1960
Africa  Southern Rhodesia  Zimbabwe  United Kingdom 1980
Africa  Swaziland  Swaziland  United Kingdom 1968
Africa  Tanganyika  Tanzania  United Kingdom 1961
Africa  Tunisia  Tunisia  France 1956
Africa Central African Republic Ubangi Shari  Central African Republic  France 1960
Africa  Uganda  Uganda  United Kingdom 1962
Africa  Zanzibar  Tanzania  United Kingdom 1963
Atlantic Ocean  Bahamas  Bahamas  United Kingdom 1973
Atlantic Ocean  Cape Verde  Cape Verde  Portugal 1975
Asia / Middle East  Cyprus  Cyprus  United Kingdom 1960
Europe  Malta  Malta  United Kingdom 1964
Caribbean  Antigua and Barbuda  Antigua and Barbuda  United Kingdom 1981
Caribbean  Barbados  Barbados  United Kingdom 1966
Caribbean  Dominica  Dominica  United Kingdom 1978
Caribbean  Grenada  Grenada  United Kingdom 1974
Caribbean  Jamaica  Jamaica  United Kingdom 1962
Caribbean  Saint Kitts and Nevis  Saint Kitts and Nevis  United Kingdom 1983
Caribbean  Saint Lucia  Saint Lucia  United Kingdom 1979
Caribbean Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 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  Comores  Comoros  France 1975
Indian Ocean  Madagascar  Madagascar  France 1960
Indian Ocean  Mauritius  Mauritius  United Kingdom 1968
Indian Ocean Netherlands Netherlands East Indies  Indonesia  Netherlands 1949
Indian Ocean  Seychelles  Seychelles  United Kingdom 1976
Pacific Ocean  Brunei  Brunei Darussalam  United Kingdom 1984
Pacific Ocean Fiji 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 Republic of West Papua Netherlands New Guinea  Indonesia  Netherlands 1963
Pacific Ocean Papua New Guinea 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



See also

External links


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