The causes of decolonization

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Asia’s decolonization

Islamic Asia, made up by Middle East countries which were former territories of the Ottoman Empire until the end of WWI.

South and South East Asia, colonized by United Kingdom (India, Ceilan, Malaysia, Borneo and Burma), France (Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia) and The Netherlands (Indonesia).

Siberia and central Asia belonged to Russia.

Islamic Asia: After the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in First World War, the Arab territoriers passed under League of Nations’ dependency, which administered them as “mandates” by Great Britain (Iraq, Jordan and Palestine) and France (Syria and Libanon).

The problems in this area were: rivalry between France and UK, the artificial break-up of the territory, the antagonism between Jewish and Arabs, and wars for the oil’s control and the Suez Canal.

 In Iraq a monarchy was established in 1925. In 1930 GB formally recognized Iraq’s independence and also entered in the League of Nations in 1932.Israel. In 1917 the British minister Balfour agrees with the idea of a “home for the Jewish” inside Palestine. The Holocaust during WWII provoked a wave of simpathy for the Jews suffering. During the last years of British mandate the sionists claimed for the creation of a Jewish state to the British allowing massive immigration flow to Palestine.

After the USA’s support, commissions were made to suggest projects to the new Jewish state within Palestine. Great Britain’s proposal was to divide the territory into two autonomous regions ( both Arab and Jewish), but federated, which was not accepted. Finally, The UN’s General Assembly allowed (November 29, 1947) the proposal of dividing Palestine into two states: one Arab and another Jewish.

Arabs opposed strongly to this decision, but the Jewish National Council in Palestine proclaimed on May 14, 1948 the state of Israel, headed by Ben Gurion.  The Arabs declared war on Israel and were defeated. From this moment, wars carried on, and despite of the fact that today the conflict has evolved, tensions and problems remain. In 1946 got independence Syria and Libanon, and Jordan became a kingdom.In 1951, Oman got independence. In 1961 Kuwait. In 1967, South Yemen. In 1990 North and South Yemen joined. In 1971 Qatar, Bahrein, U.A.E.

Southern  Asia. The current Southern Asian countries were until WWII the British India: India, Sri Lanka and Maldives. India was the “jewel of the Crown” and highly populated with more than 400 million inhabitants. There were even before WWII nationalist movements of Hindu and Muslims, in which the main role was featured by the Congress Party, founded in 1885 and led by Mohandas Gandhi y Jawaharlal Nehru, and the Muslim League, created in 1906 conducted by Mohammad Jinnah. The most remarkable actions for independence in India were conducted by Gandhi, who uses the tactic of “not violent resistance”, “civil disobedience” and “no cooperation” with British authorities. During Second World War, GB decided India’s participation in the war, and this was in Exchange of getting independence. Once WWII had finished, the Labor British government prepared the independence plan and India’s break up with Hindu and Muslim approval. In August 1947, Great India Split into two states: India (Hindu) and Pakistan (Muslim). The birth of these two states caused the flow of population affecting more than 13 million people and huge massacres. These problems between groups of different religion have not reached to a solution still today: the PM Indira Gandhi was murdered in 1984 and her son Rajiv Gandhi in 1991.

Southern East Asia. It is formed by a great variety of cultures and religions, such as: Indonesia, with Dutch inheritance and Muslim majority. Indochina, made up by Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, with French inheritance and great Chinese-Hindu’s influence. Burma, Malaysia and Brunei, with British inheritance and Islamic civilization. This Asian area was occupied by the Japanese during WWII, but with its defeat in 1945, all the regimes fell as well. The nationalist movements were the only force able to control power. In Indonesia, the nationalism against the Netherlands was revealed through the Indonesian Nationalist party, founded in 1927 by Sukarno with a mixture of nationalist, religious and socialist elements: popular sovereignty, social justice, belief in God and non-alignment with any of the two superpowers, which gave Sukarno and important role among the non-aligned countries.

Decolonization of Africa: The Conference of Bandung (1955) boosted nationalist movements in this continent.

Northern Africa It can be distinguish the North East African colonies’s process of Independence from British empire (Nile’s countries), and the North West African colonies from French colonization, which correspond to the Magreb countries: Morocco, Argelia, Tunisia, and in between Libya, which was an Italian colony.

Egypt reached Independence in 1953. After the defeat with Israel, the movement of the Free Officers Movement under coloner Nasser, carried out a military coup against the King Fuad II and proclaimed the Republic. Nasser’s reforms , his neutrality and panarabism had great influence and were followed as a model in all the Arab countries.

The Sudan’s parliament declared Independence in 1956. After a time of civil wars and population flow, it took place in South Sudan a referendum (2011) allowing Independence of South Sudan; in July the same year Sudan Split into two independent states.

Libya was an Italian colony that after World War II the UN gave Independence and left the country in King Idris’s hands. In 1969 colonel Gadafi takes power through a military coup. He was a panarabism’s defender and supported terrorist attempts against Western countries and that was the reason Reagan ordered the bombing of Bengasi and Tripoli in 1986. The Arab revolutions that began in Tunisia in 2010 spread over Libya and caused a Civil War. The NATO’s support ends with the opposition’s success and the violent death of president Gadafi in october 2011.

The French created a protectorate in Morocco in 1912. After some agreements between France and Moroccan nationalists, overall with conservative party Istiqlal, it became an independent kingdom in 1956 with Mohamed V as monarch. His son Hassan II followed him since 1961 until 1999, and later on his son Mohamed VI, who has promised to do democratic reforms.

In the protectorate of Tunisia, the nationalist movement joined on the party Neo-Destur, under Habib Burguiba’s direction. After negotiations with French authorities , it declared Independence in 1956 with a monarchist regime. But in 1957 follows a Republic with Burguiba as president until 1987, when was substituted by Zine el Abidine ben Ali,who has to flee from the country to Saudi Arabia due to Arab spring’s revolts.

Argelia was the country much suffering a long lasting process of decolonization in Northern Africa. The conflict became violent because of the fact that there was a huge amount of French population living there totally opposed to Independence, which provoked a shotdown between the French government and the nationalist Front de Libération Nationale (FLN).

The armed struggle began in 1954 and caused deep changes both in France and Argelia. The FLN proclaimed in 1958 the provisional government of the Argelia Republic headed by Ferhat Abbas, while in France it happened the end of the IV Republic. President Charles de Gaulle offered the autonomy of Argelia, but the French settlers created the SAO ( Secret Armed Organization)or OAS in Spanish,and it was a time of fierce repression with more tan 30.000 deaths. Finally, The Evian’s Agreements in 1962 gave Independence to Argelia and she was adressed to socialsim and islamism, had the FLN as the only party and ben Bella as president until 1965 when by means of a military coup was substituted by Huari Bumedian.

 Black Africa Black Africa means the rest of the huge continent and featured by a great ethnic, languages and cultural variety. British Africa began to decolonize since 1957, by means of agreements with nationalist parties. New states became part of the Commonwealth. In Western Africa, Gold Coast, which changed its name by Ghana, was the fisrt Black state to reach Independence in 1957 with Kwane Nkrumah as president. Nigeria did the same in 1960, Sierra Leona in 1961, and Gambia in 1965. In Eastern Africa, the first state to be independent was Somalia in 1960. The mandate of Tanganika (former German) ended in 1961, and had as president Julius Nyerere, turning into The Republic of Tanzania in 1964. Uganda was independent in 1962, and Kenya, where there were terrorist groups called Mau-Mau got Independence in 1963.In Central Africa got Independence Malawi in 1964.

In Austral Africa, Bostwana declared Independence in 1966; Basutoland in 1966 foming the kingdom of Lesotho; Swaziland, in 1968; The Mauricio Islands in 1968, and Seychelles in 1976.

French Africa. Despite decolonization in this part of Africa starts in 1958 with Guinea, the basic year of its decolonization was 1960, when became proclaimed independent all the states of this área: Senegal, with Sedar Senghor as president; Mali; Ivory Coast; Dahomey which became Benin in 1975; Niger; Burkina Faso in 1984, and Mauritania.

-In 1960 French Equatorial Africa split into four new states: Chad, Central African Republic, Gabon and The Republic of Congo.

-Among the islands belonging to France, the first one to reach Independence was Madagascar in 1960, The Comores in 1972, and French Somaliland in 1977 with the name of Yibuti.

Belgian Africa, located in the central área of the African continent, which was the former Congo colony and Ruanda-Burundi. The nationalist movement were very strong led by Lumumba, who was the first president of Congo in 1960. Very son after it happened a Civil War in Congo, Lumumba was asassinated and general Mobutu instaured a military dictatorship. In 1977 changes its name for Zaire, but later, in 1977 , adopted the name of Republic Democratic of Congo.

Spanish Africa. It was made up by Ifni, Western Sahara and Equatorial Guinea. Spain ceded Ifni to Morocco in 1969, and gave Independence to Equatorial Guinea in 1968, with Macías as president.  Spain gave Independence to Western Sahara after the “Marcha Verde” (land’s occupation) and Spain had to sign the Treaty of Madrid in 1975, leaving the administration of the área to both Morocco and Mauritania. However, the nationalist movement “Frente Polisario” did not accept this solution and proclaimed La República Árabe Saharaui Democrática in 1976. The Organization for the African Unity recognized the “Frente Polisario” as the only one representing the Saharauis people. The UN accepted the right to sel-determination, but after years of armed conflict between Morocco and The Saharauis, the problems did not reach to a real solution and the Saharauis live out of their lands.

Portuguese Africa. After the Revolution of Carnations, in 1975, the government gave Independence to Angola, Guinea-Bissau, Cape Verde, Sto. Tomé and Principe.

The Non-Aligned Countries formed a group of countries which adopted a political view of rejection to their integration in one of the two antagonist blocs: the Western capitalist bloc, either the Eastern or communist one. The beginning of the movement can be traced in the Congress of the Opressed Peoples (Brussels, 1927), and the Conferences of New Delhi (1947 and 1949). The first members of this were India from 1947, with Gandhi and Nehru, and Yugoslavia, since it splits with USSR in 1948.

The Conference of Bandung The first Non-Aligned manifesto took place in the Conference of Bandung (Indonesia), in April 1955, that apart of its meaning of a starting point for African decolonization, it is considered as the creation of the beliefs of common action of this movement. As a whole,  29 countries of Africa and Asia  took part in this meeting, representing 1.500 million inhabitants with only the 8% of the world income. It has as main issues of debate: tensión between powers, problems with China, solidarity among independent movements, the need to strenghten their economies and obtain credits. The Conference of Bandung meant the entrance in international scene of new states from Asia and Africa as a “Third bloc”,and the relevance of the idea of peaceful coexistance. Fort he very fist time in History, the two continents which were the origin of oldest civilizations and also the most exploited by colonialsim joined in a common goal.

The Conference of Belgrade The first conference of the Non-Aligned Countries, and the real creator of the movement was the one set at Belgrade (Yugoslavia, 1961), in which 25 countries participated. Its promoters (Tito, Nehru and Nasser) thought that the non- aligment should allow the Third World Countries to maintain aposition apart from the two superpowers ‘s confrontation.

 The Cairo’s Conference. The second conference was held at El Cairo (Egypt, 1964), featured by massive entrance of new African states which recentrly have obtained Independence. Thre were 46 countries.

The Argel’s Conference The Argel’s Confrence (Argelia, 1973) featured by the entrance of huge amount of Latin American countries. There were 105 delegations and they thought that the true división of the world was made by “por” and “rich” countries instead of communist and capitalist ones.

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The European Economic Community (EEC) had its genesis in two institutions: Benelux, which was the first European customs union of the 20th century, came into force in 1948, its signatories were Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands; the ECSC (European Coal and Steel Community), when Jean Monet and Robert Schuman proposed a project of European economic cooperation to France and the Federal Republic of Germany (Schuman Plan) and this led to the establishment of the ECSC in 1951 (Treaty of Paris), with members from across western Europe (Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg). The ECSC members agreed to manage their coal and steel industries jointly, to prevent wars over these natural resources.

The six states soon decided to cooperate even more closely. They signed the Treaty of Rome (1957), which established the European Economic Community (ECC) and the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom).

The European Economic Community: The Treaty of Rome.

The ECC came into force on January 1, 1958 according to the arranged in the Treaty of Rome, which was establishing a transitory period of progressive integration of twelve years of duration, and which concluded in January, 1970. The Community took the European economic development as a mission. To obtain these ends the following agreements were established: The customs union between the Member states, maintaining a commercial community policy, not only between them, but with third countries with a common tariff; the free movement of people, services and capital; the establishment of agricultural and transport common policies; and to establish successive agreements with targets more ambitious that supposed one more advanced level of integration, like the monetary union and the convergence of economic policies. However, in its initial stages it served as little more than a customs union (allowing for the free circulation of goods), known as the Common/Single Market.


The British denial to adhere to the Treaty of Rome was obeying a triple cause: the transference of its sovereignty; the interests that Great Britain was maintaining with the Commonwealth; and the desire to maintain privilege relations with the United States. Therefore its initial answer was the creation of the EFTA (European Free Trade Association), whose members were the United Kingdom, Portugal, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and Austria, only reducing tariffs between themselves.

In 1961 Britain applied for membership of the EEC. This was vetoed by French President Charles de Gaulle (twice, second in 1969), who was concerned that British membership would weaken the French voice within Europe. Britain joined the EEC in 1973, after Charles de Gaulle’s resignation in 1969.

The Economic and Monetary Union.

The EMU was introduced in three stages:

Stage 1 (1990-1993): the free movement of capital between Member States.

Stage 2: (1994-1998): convergence of Member States’ economic policies and strengthening of cooperation between Member States’ national central banks. Creation of the European Central Bank (ECB) which administers the monetary policy of the states which adopted the Euro.

Stage 3: (1999): the gradual introduction of the euro as the single currency of the Member States and the implementation of a common monetary policy safeguard by the European Central Bank.

The first two stages of EMU have been completed. The third stage is currently underway. In principle, all EU Member States must join this final stage and therefore adopt the euro. However, some Member States have not yet fulfilled the convergence criteria. These Member States therefore benefit from a provisional derogation until they are able to join the third stage of EMU. Furthermore, the United Kingdom and Denmark gave notification of their intention not to participate in the 3rd stage of EMU and therefore not to adopt the Euro

The European Project for the 21th century.

Since 1999, new treaties try to reinforce the EU like the Treaty of Amsterdam and Agenda 2000. But none has been successful.

In February 2003 the Treaty of Nice came into force, which purpose was to facilitate the major EU enlargement (10 new states) which was to follow. Ten countries joined the EU in 2004: Poland, Hungary, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Slovenia, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Malta and Cyprus. Membership of the EU was 25 countries and 456 million people. In 2007 Bulgaria and Romania also joined the EU, and Croatia joined in 2013 (28 state members)

Towards the end of the 20th century, it became clear for a large number of European leaders that the EU required a re-foundation and renovation. From an initial agenda that included the distribution of competencies, simplification and the incorporation of the Charter of Fundamental Rights, the Convention on the Future of Europe produced a fully-fledged proposal for a Constitution or Constitutional Treaty for Europe. On 29 October 2004, the Heads of State or Government of the 25 Member States and the 3 candidate countries signed the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe which will then need to be ratified by all 25 member states of the enlarged Union. The ratification of agreement was initiated by the approval of the Parliament, but some states summoned referendum in 2005, obtaining the approval in some of them but not in all. 

Spain and the European Union.

Spain’s petition to be admitted to the European Community in 1962 was rejected due to the antidemocratic character of the Franco regime. However, in 1970 Spain reached a commercial agreement that granted a reduction in import and export duties for its trade with EC countries. After Franco’s death, during Adolfo Suárez’s term of office, Spain applied to join the European Economic Community. After a period of negotiation in which Spain had to adapt its economy and laws to those of the European Community, the Treaty on the Accession of Spain to the European Economic Community was signed on 12th June 1985 together with Portugal, and on 1st January 1986 became a member. EEC membership required a thorough economic, legislative and social restructuring of the country and especially some industrial sectors (shipping, steel, textile…) were affected. In social terms Spain had to confront the challenge of creating a welfare system, similar to other European countries.Since then, Spain has played an important role in the consolidation of European unity and adopted the euro as its currency in 2002. Its entry meant to became part of a huge market (free movement) and also thanks to the Cohesion Funds, set up to encourage the development of the less economically developed member countries. As a result, Spain’s economy began to resemble the economies of Europe’s more advanced countries.

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