Tag Archives: United States Congress

Packing & Cracking ~gerrymander~ a repost and reminder


Elbridge Gerry (1744–1814), American statesman
Elbridge Gerry (1744–1814), American statesman (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The information below is a historic  timeline regarding the Census and Gerrymandering or Packing & Cracking rules

In December 1975, the Congress passed Public Law (P.L.) 94-171. This law requires the Census Bureau to make special preparations to provide redistricting data to the 50 states no later than April 1 of the year following a census (so April 1, 2011, for the 2010 Census). P.L. 94-171 specifies that within 1 year of Census Day, the Census Bureau must send each state the small-area data the state will need to redraw districts for the state legislature.

P.L. 94-171 sets up a voluntary program between the Census Bureau and those states that wish to receive population tabulations for voting districts and other state-specified geographic areas.

Under this program, those responsible for the legislative apportionment or redistricting of each state may devise a plan identifying the voting districts for which they want the specific tabulations and submit it to the Census Bureau.

Beginning in 2005, the Redistricting Data Office of the Census Bureau met with state officials in 46 states. These meetings explained the timeline and programs available for the 2010 Census, providing states the time to prepare and allocate resources in advance of the census. The states also provided the Census Bureau with valuable feedback on census program planning.

The 2010 Census Redistricting Data Program is a five-phase program. During Phase 1 (2005–2006), the Census Bureau collected state legislative district boundaries and associated updates to tabulate legislative districts. This phase also included an aggressive 2010 Census communications plan, with visits to state capitals, to make sure the states were informed and prepared for the upcoming census.

Phase 2 (2008–2010) consisted of the Voting District/Block Boundary Suggestion Project (VTD/BBSP) in which states received TIGER/Line® shapefiles and the MAF/TIGER Partnership Software (MTPS) to electronically collect voting district boundaries, feature updates, suggested block boundaries, and corrected state legislative district boundaries. Both Phase 1 and Phase 2 are voluntary programs that include a step where the state verifies the submitted data.

Phase 3 constitutes the delivery of the data for the 2010 Census. The Census Bureau will deliver the geographic and data products to the majority and minority leadership in the state legislatures, the governors, and any designated P.L. 94-171 liaisons. Once bipartisan receipt of the data is confirmed, the data will be made available online to the public within 24 hours through the American FactFinder. For this census, the P.L. 94-171 data will include population counts for small areas within each state, as well as housing occupied/vacancy counts.

After the Census Bureau provides the data, the states will begin their redistricting. States are responsible for delineating their own congressional and legislative boundaries and their legislatures. Legislatures, secretaries of state, governors, and/or redistricting commissions carry out the process.  

Go to www.census.gov for the complete article …

For your information, wiki states, “Gerrymandering is effective because of the wasted vote effect.

The Etymology

First printed in March 1812, the political cartoon above was drawn in reaction to the state senate electoral districts drawn by the Massachusetts legislature to favour the Democratic-Republican Party candidates of Governor Elbridge Gerry over the Federalists.

The caricature satirizes the bizarre shape of a district in Essex County, Massachusetts as a dragon-like “monster.”

Federalist newspapers editors and others at the time likened the district shape to a salamander, and the word gerrymander was a blend of that word and Governor Gerry‘s last name.

Resources: www.Census.gov
 and Wiki
 

the 27th amendment


 

What is the 27th Amendment:

“No law, varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives, shall take effect, until an election of Representatives shall have intervened.” –

See more at: http://constitution.laws.com/27th-amendment#sthash.XQKBlcAs.dpuf

Date Proposed:

The 27th Amendment was first proposed on September 25th, 1789

Date Passed:

The 27th Amendment was passed May 7th, 1992

President of the United States Bill Clinton was the President of the United States during the ratification of the 27th Amendment

Stipulations of the 27th Amendment The 27th

Amendment is the most recent constitutional amendment passed; as of 2011, there have been 27 Constitutional Amendments passed with regard to the Constitution of the United States of America

The 27th Amendment addresses the salary rate of members of Congress, which is comprised of a bicameral legislature – the Senate and the House of Representatives The 27th Amendment stipulates that members of the Congress are not permitted to adjust their respective wage earnings in the middle of a term; in the event of a proposed wage adjustment, members of Congress must address any or all concerns with regard to wage adjustment prior to the starting of a new Congressional term

27th Amendment Facts

The 27th Amendment has never been cited within a Supreme Court Hearing The 27th Amendment addresses the adjustment of costs of living with regard to inflation The 27th Amendment is considered to be the Constitutional Amendment with the longest duration of time between the initial proposal and subsequent ratification; the 22nd Amendment is considered to maintain the second-longest duration of 4 years between proposal and passing

States Ratifying the 27th Amendment

1. Alabama 2. Alaska 3. Arizona 4. Arkansas 5. California 6. Colorado 7. Connecticut 8. Delaware 9. Florida 10. Georgia 11. Hawaii 12. Idaho 13. Illinois 14. Indiana 15. Iowa 16. Kansas 17. Kentucky 18. Louisiana 19. Maine 20. Maryland 21. Michigan 22. Minnesota 23. Missouri 24. Montana 25. Nevada 26. New Hampshire 27. New Jersey 28. New Mexico 29. North Carolina 30. North Dakota 31. Ohio 32. Oklahoma 33. Oregon 34. Rhode Island 35. South Carolina 36. South Dakota 37. Tennessee 38. Texas 39. Utah 40. Vermont 41. Virginia 42. Washington 43. West Virginia 44. Wisconsin 45. Wyoming

States Not Participatory in the Ratification of the 27th Amendment

1. Massachusetts 2. Mississippi 3. Nebraska 4. New York 5. Pennsylvania – See more at: http://constitution.laws.com/27th-amendment#sthash.XQKBlcAs.dpuf

Selma ~ called Bloody Sunday :Black History ~ American History


First March from Selma

When You Pray, Move Your Feet.

— African Proverb.

 

Charles White(?), photographer, Selma, Alabama, March 7, 1965.

photo courtesy of Representative John Lewis

John Lewis (on right in trench coat) and Hosea Williams (on the left) lead marchers across the Edmund Pettus Bridge.

On Sunday March 7, 1965, about six hundred people began a fifty-four mile march from Selma, Alabama to the state capitol in Montgomery. They were demonstrating for African American voting rights and to commemorate the death of Jimmie Lee Jackson, shot three weeks earlier by an state trooper while trying to protect his mother at a civil rights demonstration. On the outskirts of Selma, after they crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge, the marchers, in plain sight of photographers and journalists, were brutally assaulted by heavily armed state troopers and deputies.

One hundred years after the Civil War, in many parts of the nation, the 15th Amendment had been nullified by discriminatory laws, ordinances, intimidation, violence, and fear which kept a majority of African Americans from the polls. The situation was particularly egregious in the city of Selma, in Dallas County, Alabama, where African Americans made up more than half the population yet comprised only about 2 percent of the registered voters. As far back as 1896, when the U.S. House of Representatives adjudicated the contested results of a congressional election held in Dallas County, it was stated on the floor of Congress:

…I need only appeal to the memory of members who have served in this House for years and who have witnessed the contests that time and time again have come up from the black belt of Alabama—since 1880 there has not been an honest election in the county of Dallas…

Hon. W. H. Moody, of Massachusetts

Contested Election Case, Aldrich vs. Robbins, Fourth District, Alabama: Speeches of Hon. W.H. Moody, of Massachusetts [et al.] in the House of Representatives, 3 (2239),

March 12 and 13, 1896.

From Slavery to Freedom, 1824-1909

However, by March 1965, the Dallas County Voters League, the Southern Christian Leadership Council (SCLC), and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) were all working for voting rights in Alabama. John Lewis headed SNCC’s voter registration effort and, on March 7, he and fellow activist Hosea Williams led the group of silent marchers from the Brown Chapel AME Church to the foot of the Pettus bridge and into the event soon known as “Bloody Sunday.”

Alabama Police Attack Selma-to-Montgomery Marchers,

Federal Bureau of Investigation photograph

Selma, Alabama, March 7, 1965. —  http://www.nps.gov/history/nr/travel/civilrights/al4.htm

We Shall Overcome”: Historic Places of the Civil Rights Movement   —  http://www.cr.nps.gov/nr/travel/civilrights/index.htm

When ABC television interrupted a Nazi war crimes documentary, Judgement in Nuremberg, to show footage of violence in Selma a powerful metaphor was presented to the nation. Within forty-eight hours, demonstrations in support of the marchers were held in eighty cities and thousands of religious and lay leaders, including Dr. Martin Luther King, flew to Selma. On March 9, Dr. King led a group again to the Pettus Bridge where they knelt, prayed, and, to the consternation of some, returned to Brown Chapel. That night a Northern minister, who was in Selma to march, was killed by white vigilantes.

Outraged citizens continued to inundate the White House and the Congress with letters and phone calls. On March 9, for example, Jackie Robinson, the baseball hero, sent a telegram to the President:

“IMPORTANT YOU TAKE IMMEDIATE ACTION IN ALABAMA ONE MORE DAY OF SAVAGE TREATMENT BY LEGALIZED HATCHET MEN COULD LEAD TO OPEN WARFARE BY AROUSED NEGROES AMERICA CANNOT AFFORD THIS IN 1965”

In Montgomery, Federal Judge Frank Johnson, Jr. temporarily restrained all parties in order to review the case. And, President Lyndon Johnson addressed the American people before a televised Joint Session of Congress, saying, “There is no issue of States rights or national rights. There is only the struggle for human rights…We have already waited a hundred years and more, and the time for waiting is gone…”

Rev. Ralph Abernathy walking with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., as They Lead Civil Rights Marchers out of Camp to Resume Their March

United Press International   — http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/94505571/

Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, March 21-25, 1965.

New York World-Telegram & Sun Collection,

Prints & Photographs Division  —  http://www.loc.gov/rr/print/

Allowing CBS footage of “Bloody Sunday” as evidence in court, Judge Johnson ruled on March 17, that the demonstrators be permitted to march. Under protection of a federalized National Guard, voting rights advocates left Selma on March 21 and stood 25,000 strong on March 25 before the state capitol in Montgomery. As a direct consequence of these events, the U.S. Congress passed the Voting Rights Act of 1965, guaranteeing every American twenty-one and over the right to register to vote. During the next four years the number of U.S. blacks eligible to vote rose from 23 to 61 percent.

John Lewis went on to serve as Director of the Voter Education Project, a program that eventually added nearly four million minorities to the voter rolls. To mark the thirty-fifth anniversary of “Bloody Sunday,” on March 7, 2000, Lewis, a U.S. Congressman from Atlanta’s 5th District, and Hosea Williams crossed the Pettus Bridge accompanied by President William Clinton, Coretta Scott King, and others. Asked to contrast this experience with that of 1965 the Congressman responded, “This time when I looked there were women’s faces and there were black faces among the troopers. And this time when we faced them, they saluted.”

•American Treasures is an exhibition of special items in the Library of Congress collections. The exhibition is divided into four sections: Top Treasures, Memory, Imagination, and Reason. The latter includes images taken about 1963 by Danny Lyon, staff photographer for SNCC, a key organizing body during the Civil Rights Movement.

•Search on the term Selma, Alabama in the black and white photos of the Farm Services Administration collection, FSA/OWI Photographs, 1935-1945 to see images of the city taken during the 1930s by the photographer Walker Evans. Search on Alabama to see images taken by the FSA photographers Dorothea Lange, Arthur Rothstein, Marion Post Wolcott, and Carl Mydans.

•The Great Migration made northerners more aware of disenfranchisement in the Deep South and newspapers like The Gazette and The Advocate fostered awareness within the black community. Search on the term vote in African-American Experience in Ohio, 1850-1920 to view about 100 items that address the issue. See, for example, the 1887 article “Negro Voting Power” and the 1888 article “First Colored Voter.” The poet Paul Lawrence Dunbar mentions Alabama disenfranchisement in his article “Paul Dunbar’s Protest.”

•Music drawn from a tradition of Southern spirituals helped sustain the Civil Rights Movement. Search on the term spiritual in the John Lomax and Ruby Terrel Lomax collection Southern Mosaic to hear some of the tunes which comprise that tradition. Listen, for example, to versions of “This Little Light of Mine,” “Long Way to Travel,” and “Great Day” as they were rendered in the South back in 1939.

•Images of 20th Century African American Activists: A Select List presents frequently requested images from the Prints & Photographs Division of the Library. Except where otherwise noted in the “Reproduction Number” line, images are considered to be in the public domain. The selection includes images of Martin Luther King, John Lewis, and Ralph Abernathy.

•Search the Today in History Archive on the term states rights to learn more about an issue which lay at the heart of the American system. Ironically, on March 7, 1850, (exactly 115 years before “Bloody Sunday”) Daniel Webster gave his famous “Seventh of March speech” in favor of the Compromise of 1850, which, while it postponed the Civil War, strengthened states’ rights at the cost of African-American freedom. Search on the term Alabama to learn more about events in the state, such as the arrest of Rosa Parks.

•With the exception of Concord Bridge, where the American Revolution began, no bridge in America marks an event as historically momentous as that marked by the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Nevertheless, search across the Photos and Prints section of American Memory on the term bridge to see a wide array of other bridges. See, for example, Burnside’s Bridge (fought over during the Battle of Antietam), a Covered Bridge in Vermont, and the Locust St. Bridge in Des Moines, Iowa. Also search the Today in History Archive on the term bridge to read features on the Brooklyn Bridge, Williamsburg Bridge, and Golden Gate Bridge.

Daniel Webster

I wish to speak today; not as a Mass[achusetts] man – nor a Northern man – but as an American, & a member of the Senate of the U[nited] S[tate]s.

Daniel Webster’s notes for his speech to the United States Senate favoring the Compromise of 1850, March 7, 1850.

Words and Deeds in American History: Selected Documents Celebrating the Manuscript Division’s First 100 Years

Daniel Webster

produced by Mathew Brady’s studio, circa 1851-1860.

America’s First Look into the Camera: Daguerrotype Portraits and Views, 1839-1864

The acquisition of territory following the U.S. victory in the Mexican War revived concerns about the balance of free and slave states in the Union. On March 7, 1850, Senator Daniel Webster delivered his famous “Seventh of March” speech urging sectional compromise on the issue of slavery. Advising abolition-minded Northerners to forgo antislavery measures, he simultaneously cautioned Southerners that disunion inevitably would lead to war.

Following the lead of senators Henry Clay and Stephen Douglas, Webster endorsed Clay’s plan to assure sectional equilibrium in Congress. Passed after eight months of congressional wrangling, the legislation admitted California to the Union as a free state, permitted the question of slavery in Utah and New Mexico territories to be decided by popular sovereignty, settled Texas border disputes, and abolished slave trading in the District of Columbia while strengthening the Fugitive Slave Act.

The legislative package known as the Compromise of 1850 postponed the Civil War by a decade. However, like the 1820 Missouri Compromise, the Compromise of 1850 failed to resolve the question of slavery in a meaningful way. Over the course of the 1850s, the inadequacies of both measures were made painfully clear. “Popular sovereignty” undermined the Missouri compromise by suggesting the earlier division of the country along the thirty-sixth parallel into free states and slave states no longer applied. Indeed, the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 permitted slavery. The resulting bloodshed in Kansas, like later incidents at Harper’s Ferry, presaged the violent conflict of the Civil War.

Henry Clay

produced by Mathew Brady’s studio, circa 1850-1852.

America’s First Look into the Camera: Daguerrotype Portraits and Views, 1839-1864

Incidents of the War. A Harvest of Death, Gettysburg, July 1863.

Timothy H. O’Sullivan, photographer.

Selected Civil War Photographs

•Words and Deeds in American History: Selected Documents Celebrating the Manuscript Division’s First 100 Years , an online display of approximately ninety representative documents preserved by the Manuscripts Division, Library of Congress, includes features on John C. Calhoun’s speech to the United States Senate against the Compromise of 1850 and Henry Clay’s appointment as secretary of state on March 7, 1825.

•Read the Documentary History of Slavery in the United States by John Larkin Dorsey. A contemporary of Webster and Clay, Dorsey reviews slavery in the U.S. from 1774 and the Continental Congress to 1850 with special attention to the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 and the probable dissolution of the Union. Search African American Perspectives: Pamphlets from the Daniel A. P. Murray Collection, 1818-1907 on slavery to access this document and many more.

•For more information about the movement to abolish slavery, visit the Abolition section of African American Odyssey, and the Abolition section of The African-American Mosaic as well. Also, read the Today in History features on Abolition in the District of Columbia , and on the abolitionists Lucretia Coffin Mott, and Elijah Parish Lovejoy.

•Browse The Frederick Douglass Papers. Many remarkable items are included in the papers of this nineteenth-century African-American abolitionist who escaped from slavery and then risked his own freedom by becoming an outspoken antislavery lecturer, writer, and publisher. The papers are divided into a series of nine sets. Set nine, for example, contains a booklet entitled Two Speeches by Frederick Douglass (on West Indian Emancipation and the Dred Scott Decision).

•A search on Daniel Webster in American Memory collections yields more than 2,000 items—including correspondence, speeches, images of statues, and even sheet music.

* Developed by the U.S. Department of Interior, National Park Service, U.S. Department of Transportation, The Federal Highway Administration, and the National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers.

Black History Month

Black History~ Beyond The Emancipation Proclamation — The 13th Amendment a journey in American History …from Lonnie Bunch,musem director,historian,author,lecturer


a repost from 2010  
National Museum of African American History and Culture Lonnie Bunch, museum director, historian, lecturer, and author, is proud to present A Page From Our American Story, a regular on-line series for Museum supporters. It will showcase individuals and events in the African American experience, placing these stories in the context of a larger story — our American story.

A Page From Our American Story

13th Amendment to the
Constitution of the United States

13th Amendment to US Constitution
Congress, Wednesday, February 01, 1865 (Joint Resolution Submitting

13th Amendment to the States; signed by Abraham Lincoln and Congress)
The Abraham Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress Series 3. General Correspondence. 1837-1897.
Section 1: Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for a crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

Section 2:

Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

William Seward
William Seward
(19th century photograph)

On December 18, 1865, 145 years ago, Secretary of State William Seward announced to the world that the United States had constitutionally abolished slavery — the 13th Amendment had been ratified.

The ratification of the 13th Amendment, the first of the Reconstruction Amendments, was truly the beginning of the end of one our nation’s ugliest and saddest eras. Historically, however, it has always been overshadowed by President Abraham Lincoln’s “Emancipation Proclamation.”

While Lincoln’s initial pronouncement to his Cabinet on September 22, 1862, formally tied slavery to the Civil War, he repeatedly stated that preserving the Union was his primary objective — not ending slavery.

Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of the United States of America
Abraham Lincoln,
16th President of the
United States of America.
Library of Congress
Prints and Photographs
online catalog
.

In essence, Lincoln’s proclamation — officially signed and issued on January 1, 1863 — freed only slaves in Confederate states where he and the Union Army could not force the issue, but allowed slavery to continue in states where the Union could impose its will.

The Emancipation Proclamation was a work of political irony. Lincoln understood slavery was wrong, but did not want to anger the border states that had remained supportive of the Union.

However, the Emancipation Proclamation served as a catalyst for abolitionists in Congress to start working in earnest to end slavery in every state.

It began on December 14, 1863, when House Republican James Ashley of Ohio introduced an amendment to ban slavery throughout the United States. Later that month, James Wilson of Iowa introduced another amendment calling for an end to slavery.

Less than a month later, on January 11, 1864, Missouri Senator John Henderson, a member of the War Democrats — Democrats who supported the Civil War and opposed the Copperheads and Peace Democrats — submitted a joint resolution also wanting an amendment to end slavery.

Now, as civil war ravaged the nation, the legislative battle on Capitol Hill to end the injustice of slavery and treat African Americans as equal citizens was launched on two fronts — the House of Representatives and the US Senate.

On February 10, 1864, the Senate Judiciary Committee passed and brought the 13th Amendment to the full Senate. While in the House, one week after the Senate was moving ahead, Representatives took their first vote on the measure. The House vote well short of the two-thirds majority needed to pass, and it was clear the anti-slavery supporters in the House were in for a long struggle.

On the other hand, the Senate moved quickly. Senators wasted little time following the Judiciary Committee’s recommendation for passage. On April 8, 1864, the amendment was overwhelmingly passed, 38-6, eight votes more than constitutionally required.

Four months after the first House vote, in June, 1864, the House tried for a second time to pass the amendment. The vote was closer, but again the abolitionists failed to get the two-thirds majority they needed for passage.

Nicolay telegram announcing passage of 13th Amendment
John G. Nicolay to Abraham Lincoln,
Tuesday, January 31, 1865
(Telegram reporting passage of 13th Amendment
by Congress). The Abraham Lincoln Papers
at the Library of Congress. Series 1.
General Correspondence. 1833-1916.

The year drew to a close with Lincoln’s reelection. Yet the House had failed to produce a bill abolishing slavery. Lincoln’s patience with the House was reaching its end. At the same time, abolitionists declared his reelection as a mandate from the people to end slavery. More pressure was brought to bear on the hold-outs in the House to pass the bill.

At last, on January 31, 1865, the House passed the 13th Amendment. Though not needed, as a symbolic gesture of approval, President Lincoln signed the document and then sent it to the states for ratification.

Initially, ratification seemed a given. By the end of March, 19 states had voted for the amendment. Then the process bogged down, and by April 14, 1865, the date President Lincoln was assassinated, only 21 states were on board.

Suddenly, Vice President Andrew Johnson, himself a War Democrat from Tennessee, was in the White House. Johnson was staunchly pro-Union, but he was less passionate about ending slavery. At this point the question was how much support would he provide toward speeding the end of slavery? Abolitionists were relieved when Johnson used his power as the Chief Executive to force Southern states to ratify the amendment as part of his Reconstruction policy.

On December 6, 1865, nearly twelve months after President Lincoln had ceremoniously signed the document, Georgia became the 27th state to ratify the 13th Amendment. The three-quarters of the states needed to make the amendment law had finally been reached, and shortly afterward Seward made his historic announcement.

Sadly, life for Black Americans did not meet the promise of freedom. Southern states adopted “Black Codes” and “Jim Crow laws” — rules and restrictions that by-passed constitutional requirements — and continued to treat African Americans as second class citizens.

The tumult and grassroots uprising that eventually spawned such famous legislation as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is a subject all its own. Today, however, let us remember the tremendous stride that America took 145 years ago with the ratification of the 13th Amendment. Together with the 14th Amendment that afforded African Americans citizenship, due process, and equal rights under the law and the 15th Amendment that gave African Americans the right to vote, a constitutional backbone was provided for what would become one of America’s greatest revolutions — the Civil Rights Movement.

Lonnie Bunch, Director All the best,
Lonnie Bunch
Director

21st Century … Colonialism


Residual Colonialism In The 21St Century …

  The 21st century deserves better. More importantly, the nearly 2 million people still living under colonial rule deserve better.

Article
definitely a repost
  • 2012•05•29

    John Quintero

    Residual colonialism in the 21st centuryPhoto: DB King

    Though colonialism is generally considered to be a relic of the past, nearly 2 million people in 16 “non-self-governing territories” across the globe still live under virtual colonial rule.  In recognition of the United Nations International Week of Solidarity with the Peoples of Non-Self-Governing Territories (25–31 May), we present this analysis of “residual colonialism in the 21st century”.

    ♦ ♦ ♦

    In 2009, the Government of the United Kingdom (UK) suspended parts of the Constitution of the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI), a British Overseas Territory, in response to allegations of systemic corruption in the territory. Direct rule from London was imposed over the democratically elected local government. This unilateral, top-down action removed the constitutional right to trial by jury, suspended the ministerial government and the House of Assembly, and charged a UK-appointed Governor with the administration of the islands.

    A tentative period for elections has been given (fall 2012 at the earliest), but this is subject to the deliberation of the British government and tied to a series of specific milestones that must be met. These announcements provoked protests and demonstrations by the islanders. The suspension of the TCI government over corruption allegations seems to run contrary to the way in which financial and governance crises are handled around the world, including in the UK itself. Scandals are part of political life, but constitutions are not suspended nor are democratically elected governments and institutions disbanded.

    How is it that these events have occurred in a world based on a system of supposedly equal sovereign states? The answer lies in the little known fact that colonial structures continue to exist even today in some parts of the world.

    Continuing colonialism

    The wave of decolonization that swept around the world in the latter half of the 20th century was once heralded as one of the great liberating movements in history. Yet, few seem to realize that colonialism is still with us. As of 2012, 16 territories are deemed still to be under colonial rule and are labeled by the United Nations as “non-self-governing territories (NSGTs)” — areas in which the population has not yet attained a full measure of self-government.

    The 16 NSGTs, home to nearly 2 million people, are spread across the globe. They remain under the tutelage of former colonial powers (currently referred to as “administering powers”), such as the UK, the USA and France.

    Most of the NSGTs feature as only small dots on the world map but are in fact prominent players on the world stage. Some act as the world’s leading financial centres, with GDP per capita amongst the world’s top 10 (e.g., the Cayman Islands and Bermuda), some constitute vital bastions for regional security (e.g., Guam), and there are those whose geographical location has made them prone to diplomatic disputes (e.g., Gibraltar and the Falklands/Malvinas).

    A UN committee on decolonization does exist (Special Committee of 24 on Decolonization), under the purview of the Fourth Committee of the United Nations General Assembly (Special Political and Decolonization Committee). Its mission is to oversee the implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples (14 December 1960).

    The world underwent a political renovation following the formation of the United Nations in 1945, and the number of sovereign UN Member States has skyrocketed from the original 51 to 193. However, the 50-plus years since the founding of the United Nations have proved to be insufficient to eradicate a centuries-old structure of dominance. This is in spite of the advancement of legal systems based on the notions of the sovereign equality of states and human rights prevalent in the contemporary world.

    Decolonization, as bluntly put by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, remains an unfinished business; an unfinished process that has been with the international community for too long. In solidarity with the peoples of the NSGTs, the present decade (2010-2020) has been declared the Third International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism (as the past two decades have proved inadequate to ensure the disappearance of such an archaic concept).

    Independence is not the only option

    The doctrine of self-determination and political equality has prevailed as the guiding principle for decolonization ever since the inception of the United Nations. Much progress has been achieved and political autonomy for many former dependent states (micro-states, even) has been realized, but the decolonization process remains stalled. No territory has achieved self-government since East Timor (now Timor-Leste) won full independence from Indonesia in 2002.

    The many achievements of decolonization by the United Nations cannot be considered truly global while some peoples continue to live under colonial rule. Administering states such as the UK and France continue to exercise top-down authority through modernized dependency governance models that, while perhaps ensuring sustained economic progress, create a democratic deficit and political vulnerability based on unequal status.

    The decolonization agenda championed by the United Nations is not based exclusively on independence. There are three other ways in which an NSGT can exercise self-determination and reach a full measure of self-government (all of them equally legitimate): integration within the administering power, free association with the administering power, or some other mutually agreed upon option for self-rule.

    The current impasse is due, in part, to the denial by the administering states of these options, but also to a lack of public awareness on the part of the peoples of the NSGTs that they are entitled to freely determine their territory’s political status in accordance with the options presented to them by the United Nations. It is the exercise of the human right of self-determination, rather than independence per se, that the United Nations has continued to push for.

    ColonizedNon-Self-GoverningThe framework against colonialism

    International law provides a particularly effective conceptual framework from which to criticize these complex dependency arrangements. In the UN Charter, not only Articles 1 and 55 maintain that one of its fundamental purposes and principles is “to develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples”. A further three chapters of the Charter are devoted to the dependent territories, namely Chapter XI (Declaration regarding Non-Self-Governing Territories), Chapter XII (International Trusteeship System) and Chapter XIII (The Trusteeship Council).

    Core human rights conventions, such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) both affirm the right of self-determination and that the states parties to the covenants have the responsibility to promote the realization of self-determination, in conformity with the provisions of the Charter of the United Nations. Colonialism has been formally delegitimized as an acceptable international practice, as per the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples (General Assembly Resolution 1514 [XV]) in 1960 and a companion resolution defining the three legitimate models of political equality (General Assembly Resolution 1541 [XV]). Further resolutions, for example, established permanent sovereignty over natural resources (General Assembly Resolution 1803 [XVII]).

    In October 1970, UN General Assembly Resolution 2621 (XXV) declared that the further continuation of colonialism in all its forms and manifestations is a crime, and in 1977 General Assembly Resolution 32/14 reaffirmed the legitimacy of the struggle of peoples for independence, territorial integrity, national unity and liberation from colonial and foreign domination and alien subjugation by all available means, including armed struggle.

    The road ahead

    Colonialism made the political world map look much as it does today, drawing up borders with no regard for local sensibilities and realities. It negated or purposefully misconceived the cultural, economic, political and social conditions under which the colonized led their lives. In the process, colonial powers imposed inappropriate identities on the people they ruled, crippling peoples’ self-esteem, thus diminishing their self-efficacy and potentially stunting their long-term social development.

    Given the modern emphasis on the equality of states and inalienable nature of their sovereignty, many people do not realize that these non-self-governing structures still exist. Thus, the world has closed its eyes to continuing colonial dependence.

    World media has the potential to play a pivotal role in advancing decolonization by exposing developments that infringe on the exercise of the right of self-determination and that worsen the political vulnerability of the NSGTs. The issue at hand is not that colonialism does not exist in today’s world because the populations of these territories overwhelmingly do not define these territories as colonies. Rather, it is that these populations have not been provided with an opportunity to decide on a legitimate political status through popular consultation in the form of an acceptable act of self-determination. Once this is made sufficiently clear, media coverage and overview can be expected.

    In light of the disbandment of an overseas democratically elected government in TCI, the international community, the public in general and the peoples of the NGSTs alike have been reminded that the UN agenda on colonialism is very much relevant and crucial — -not only for the protection of fundamental human rights, but to democratic governance and an international order principled upon the notions of sovereignty and the equality of states.

    One of the greatest and most visible achievements of the United Nations has been to pursue the decolonization of the colonized world. However, a successful end to this process cannot be based on simply removing territories from the UN list of NSGTs (de-listing), but rather on the actual achievement of full self-government.

    De-listing cannot be perceived as the goal, but rather as a secondary product resulting from clear indicators of self-government, political equality vis-à-vis the administering state, and the promotion and support of genuine political education programmes that allow the populace of those territories to freely choose their status and their future. Not doing so would result in stymieing the legitimate aspirations of peoples whose human rights the United Nations was created to protect.

    Colonialism is a concept of an exploitative past that runs counter to the principles of sovereign equality on which the United Nations is grounded. As commonly expressed in General Assembly debates, colonialism is anachronistic, archaic, and outmoded; it contravenes the fundamental tenets of democracy, freedom, human dignity and human rights.

    The 21st century deserves better. Most importantly, the nearly 2 million people still living under colonial rule deserve better.

    Black History Month