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To cite this article: Jessica Lynne Pearson (2017) Defending Empire at the United Nations: The Politics of International Colonial Oversight in the Era of Decolonisation, The Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, 45:3, 525-549, DOI: 10.1080/03086534.2017.1332133

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This article argues that, although anti-colonial delegations to the 1945 San Francisco Conference did not succeed in bringing all colonial territories under the umbrella of international trusteeship, the threat of expanding international oversight shaped the relationship between colonial governments and international organisations in powerful ways. By focusing on how the UN Special Committee on Non-Self-Governing Territories evolved as a de factosupervisory system for dependent territories, this article considers the ways that representatives at the United Nations defined dependency and self-government and explores the crusade that colonial governments led to justify imperialism in the post-war world. Through a consideration of the diplomatic actions of France, Great Britain and Belgium, this article explores the ways that colonial empires jointly mobilised to defend colonialism at the level of the United Nations. In the face of evolving supervisory mechanisms at the United Nations, the French, British and Belgian delegations joined forces in an attempt to expose some of the inherent contradictions in UN policy towards dependent populations, and to make the case that subject populations living in independent territories often endured worse conditions than those living in formal overseas empires.



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