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The UN and Independence Movements: 1946-60

The United Nations | Southeast Asia | Independence for India and Pakistan | Vietnam to 1946 | Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Madagascar to 1947 | French Withdrawal from Indochina | Algeria and War, 1954-62 | Seeking Freedom South of the Sahara

The United Nations

The UN Charter failed to address the issue of independence from colonial rule, an issue that was a leading cause of the violence and a violation of a people's right to self-determination. Two members of the Security Council were the world's two greatest imperial powers: Britain and France.

But the UN was of some help. France had trouble with their subject peoples at the end of the war. French troops fired on demonstrators in Morocco, Algeria and Syria. Syria and Lebanon were accepted as members of the UN in October 1945, and they asked the UN to assert its authority in allowing them freedom from the occupation of foreign troops. France and Britain complied with UN wishes, and the evacuation of Syria and Lebanon was completed by April 15, 1946.

The UN in 1946 accomplished other things. It assumed responsibility for controlling international narcotic traffic – formerly a responsibility of the old League of Nations, defunct since 1942. The UN established its World Health Organization (WHO). And the General Assembly created the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) "to assist children of war-devastated countries and to raise the general level of child health.

The UN also resumed what had been the League of Nations Permanent Count of International Justice. This new UN body was to settle according to international law those legal disputes that states submitted to it, and it was to give advisory opinions on legal questions that "authorized international organs and agencies" sought from it. The Court was composed of 15 judges, elected to nine-year terms, with no more than one judge of any nationality.

But the conflict between imperialism and people wanting independence from foreign rule festered.


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