Decolonisation: Process, Consequences, and Impact

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Decolonisation: The Process and Its Consequences

Decolonisation of Asia and the Middle East

In Asia, the independence of the Philippines was a peaceful process because the United States voluntarily granted this status to the country in 1946. The process was mixed on the Hindustan peninsula, where the British Indian Empire was partitioned in 1947 to form the Indian Union and Pakistan, from which Bangladesh separated in 1971. Independence was achieved through war in the Dutch colony of Indonesia and in French Indo-China, from which Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia emerged.

In the Middle East, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, and various countries of the Arabian Peninsula became independent. The UN decided to divide Palestine in 1947 in order to create the State of Israel. The proclamation of the State of Israel by the Jews in 1948 originated several Arab-Israeli Wars.

The Push to Decolonise: The Bandung Conference and the UN

In the middle of the 20th century, decolonisation gained a new push due to the Bandung Conference and the activities of the UN.

The Bandung Conference in 1955 gathered 29 recently decolonised Asian and African countries under the initiative of Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. Its final statement had an enormous international impact because it condemned colonialism and racism, affirmed the right of the nations to determine their fate, called for peaceful coexistence, and made a commitment to impartiality in response to the great powers. This statement set the foundations of the future Non-Aligned Movement.

Meanwhile, the UN condemned colonialism in 1960.

The Decolonisation of Africa

The decolonisation process in Africa took longer to take hold. In 1950, Egypt, Liberia, and Ethiopia were the only independent countries. The rest of the continent was in the hands of the European Powers.

It first affected the northern colonies (Libya, Tunisia, Morocco). Algeria became independent in 1962.

Later, most of Sub-Saharan Africa was decolonised in a peaceful way.

Finally, the Portuguese colonies of Guinea-Bissau, Angola, and Mozambique gained their independence in 1975.

Consequences: The Third World

POLITICAL. The arbitrary demarcation of borders brought about frequent wars and conflicts, which served as a pretext for the imposition of violent and corrupt military dictatorships.

ECONOMIC. Many countries continued to rely on their former metropoles or fell under economic dependence on the US or the Soviet Union. This, known as neo-colonialism, was manifested by unequal trade exchanges and foreign debt.

SOCIAL. The strong growth of population and the poor economic situation of the former colonies created low standards of living. Its most important manifestations were hunger or malnutrition, medical and health deficiencies, and illiteracy.

The group of countries which resulted from decolonisation were called Third World countries as Estate which existed before the French Revolution and also because of their decision of non-alignment with first world and second world countries. In the field of international politics, these countries were relegated to a secondary position.

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