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To begin with, emerging new international movements contributed to the desire for African states to free themselves from their colonizers. In reference to Zeleza and Eyoh (2002), the emerging new international movements challenged European colonization (137). It is important to understand that these movements emerged both before and after the Second World War. Notably, some of the international movements that contributed to the development or rather expansion of decolonization in Africa were communism and nationalism. Firstly, communism in Asia contributed to a non-violent but heightened increase in resistance against the Europeans without necessarily focusing on violence as the ultimate way of winning against them. This spread to other parts of the globe and majorly in Africa.

SWAPO, the South West Africa People's Organization, a nationalist, anti-colonial organization was founded in 1960 in South West Africa, a former German colony administered by South Africa after World War I as a League of Nations mandate territory. SWAPO launched a war of independence in 1966. In 1978 these SWAPO supporters demanded United Nations–supervised elections. The country became independent from South Africa on March 21, 1990, marking the end of the decolonization process in Africa.

The mid 20th century saw a lot of changes in the social, economic and political arenas on the global scene. These changes contributed to a shift in the structures of the above named areas. One of the areas that received a lot of attention and as a result both support and resistance is the decolonization of Africa. In line with this point, the African decolonization meant the end of formal European colonial empires in Africa. As such, the decolonization took in the 1922 Egypt restoration to Monarchy to the latest downfall of the apartheid in South Africa which took place in 1994. As a matter of fat, the decolonization involved times of peace and violence as far as the process was concerned. It actually involved liberation wars, local acceptance and the conflicts from the international point of operation.

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Although Western European powers granted aid to African nations, they also coerced governments to support their agendas and instigated and aided coups against democratically elected governments. They also fomented civil unrest to ensure that governments friendly to their Cold War agenda remained in power and those that were not were removed by political machinations or assassination. In the Congo, for example, Joseph Mobutu took a strong anti-communist position and was subsequently rewarded by Western powers. It mattered little that in 1960 he helped orchestrate the coup that removed and ultimately brought about the murder of Patrice Lumumba, was among the most anti-democratic leaders on the continent, and siphoned Western aid and revenue from the nation's natural resources into personal accounts. Mobutu's rise to power and economic and political damage to Congo in the process—with the help of his Western allies—demonstrates that the politics of the Cold War, more than anything else, defined the successes and failures of African decolonization.

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Another crucial, if distressing, feature of decolonization as advanced by Wiredu is that it always has to measure itself up with the colonizing Other, that is, it finds it almost impossible to create its own image so to speak by the employment of autochthonous strategies. This is not to assert that decolonization always has to avail itself of indigenous procedures, but the very concept of decolonization is in fact concerned with breaking away from imperial structures of dominance in order to express a will to self-identity or presence. To be sure, the Other is always present, defacing all claims to full presence of the decolonizing subject. This is a contradictory but inevitable trope within the postcolonial condition. The Other is always there to present the criteria by which self-identity is adjudged either favourably or unfavourably. There is no getting around the Other as it is introduced in its own latent and covert violence, in the hesitant counter-violence of the decolonizing subject and invariably in the counter-articulations of all projects of decolonization.

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The decades following World War II were all centered on the concept of decolonization, the dismantlement of Imperial empires established prior to World War I throughout Africa and Asia. Due to the aftermath of World War II, countries around the world experienced massive independent movements whose objective was to eliminate colonization and form new independent nations. The process of decolonization was separated by three different approaches: civil war, negotiated independence through foreign pressure, and violent incomplete decolonization. China, for example, had its internal struggles with Nationalistic and Communist parties conflicting that caused a civil war between the two ideologies. Countries including India and South Africa attempted decolonization through non-violent independence movements as well as peaceful negotiations for independence.

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This essay will discuss three dimensions of the topic that appear to be particularly important. The first section attempts to assess the significance of human rights for anticolonial movements. The second deals with the policy of postcolonial states in the United Nations. Finally, the third section considers the attitude of colonial powers toward human rights and analyzes the role human rights played in the end of colonial rule. By looking at these different contexts, I hope to provide an interpretation that is in keeping with current views of the decolonization process itself. Given the vast dimensions and enormous complexity of the dissolution of colonial empires, many historians have come to prefer limited, fractured, and case-by-case explanations over static, general models, however multicausal. In view of the variegated character and long duration of decolonization, it would indeed be surprising to discover that human rights played a clear-cut role in the process.


Decolonization and Influence of the Cold War Essay

Without disagreeing with many of the authors’ observations, in what follows I offer an essentially different line of interpretation. Broadening the historical focus underlying both studies, respectively, I argue that the history of human rights in decolonization is more complex and ambiguous than either of the accounts might suggest. It should be stressed that this history is not a terrain for easy formulae; it hardly seems fit to provide historians with a “grand narrative,” whether one of emancipation or one of hopes betrayed. At the most general level, what can be said is that in the process leading to the end of colonialism, human rights were neither highly significant nor completely absent. Their interest for the study of decolonization lies in between these extremes. The story of human rights in decolonization is the story of their occasional importance and relative weight, of experimental and shifting strategies, ambiguous appropriations, and limited effects. Their meaning and instrumentality were different for different actors, at different points in time, and in different forums. This makes it necessary to focus on specific contexts and to look for partial explanations.

Decolonization and Influence of the Cold War Essay …

Though some countries independently sought for decolonization, it was inevitable that decolonization became intertwined with the politics and interventions of the Cold War. After World War II, the world was divided into two blocs, one dominated by the United States and one by the Soviet Union. Because the United States and the Soviet Union couldn’t confront with one another directly in Europe, the two nations were strongly tempted to influence the process of decolonization through proxy nations in all parts of the world. Ultimately, the conflict between United States and Soviet Union disputed over decolonization of nations throughout the world including Korea, Cuba, and Indo-China (Vietnam).