UN seeks to sweep away last traces of colonial age

By ANITA SNOW – Associated Press – August 14, 2011

UNITED NATIONS — One was Napoleon’s last place of exile. Another became home to survivors of the mutiny-stricken HMS Bounty. They are St. Helena and the Pitcairn Islands, flecks of real estate set in vast oceans, each occupying a special place in history.

These and 14 other territories — some would call them colonies — are listed by the U.N. as relics of a vanished age when Europeans ruled large chunks of the globe. The U.N. guided many colonies to independence, and what’s left of the former empires are territories, defined by the U.N. Special Committee on Decolonization as “non-self-governing,” entitled in many cases to elect local officials but all under the ultimate authority of a distant capital.

The committee is one of the few forums in which colonialism’s last remaining subjects can make themselves heard. Its latest annual meeting, in June, featured voices as disparate as lawmakers from Gibraltar and the Falkland Islands, a headman from a cluster of New Zealand-ruled islets, and a spokesman for a Saharan territory that has been fighting for independence for 35 years.