with African Delegates to the UN
a trusteeship document with a UN associate
and a petitioner from the trust territory of Tanganyika
Throughout the 1940's, 50's and 60's, Ralph Bunche was widely
recognized as the leading American expert on Africa and colonial
affairs, and as a determined advocate of decolonization. In
fact, his pioneering work at the United Nations, during its
first two decades, was crucial to the self-determination struggles
and political independence of close to a billion people of color
throughout the world.
In 1946, Ralph Bunche was appointed head of the newly created
Division of the United Nations. Bunche was an ideal choice
for the post. After all, during the 1945 San Francisco Conference,
he had helped to draft the sections of the UN charter that deal
with trusteeship and the future of the non-self-governing areas
of the world. He threw himself into his new job with characteristic
Trusteeship was hotly debated, even within the United
Nations itself. The Trusteeship
System was designed to oversee the administration and to
facilitate the transition to self-government, and even independence,
of the trust territories. However, it also paved the way for
other non self-governing territories to achieve independence.
"[There's a] famous line of
Churchill's which says, 'I did not become his Majesty's first
minister to preside over the liquidation of his empire.' He
was basically saying they did not intend to give these territories
independence. And that was one of the compromises in the charter:
the separation between the trusteeship system and the non-self-governing
territories area. But Bunche was involved in both."
-Interview with Donald McHenry,
Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations.
territory can be placed under the trusteeship system until a
trusteeship agreement for that territory has been approved by
the general assembly. And this will require a two thirds majority
vote of that body. The charter sets forth the basic objectives
of the trusteeship system and the trusteeship functions which
are to be exercised by the assembly in the trusteeship council.
[...] These objectives in general provide for the economic,
social and political development of the peoples in trust territories
to insure their rights and their freedoms and set as an ultimate
goal their self government or independence."
Bunche's Radio Address on Trusteeship
Bunche believed that self-determination of colonial peoples
was critical to the maintenance of international order and world
peace. He facilitated this by setting up economic and technical
assistance programs for the newly independent nations and used
the media to focus world attention on the issue