Instructor: Mba Mbulu Course Outline

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Title of Course: International Law 101 [Audio Version]

Class # 7: Resolution 1514 The Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples (1960)

Passed in 1960, this resolution "solemnly proclaims the necessity of bringing to a speedy and unconditional end colonialism in all its forms and manifestations." Click Here to find the Sections most relevant to Black People. Click Here to find Explanatory Notes as to its relevance to the struggle of Black People for self-government. Click Here to find What Is Colonialism? Read all of the available information and be able to expound on the following questions and issues.

(1) This United Nations declaration states that all persons have the right to self-determination. What is the relevance of that to Black People in the United States?

(2) Why do you think this declaration addresses the issue of "armed action or repressive measures against dependent peoples"? Do you think Black People in the United States are "dependent peoples"?

(3) If the United States attempts to keep Black People from governing themselves, would the United States be breaking the law? If so, what does it mean to Black People here?

(4) What is a colony? What is a colony within a colony?

(5) Did the status of Black People in this country change as a result of the Revolutionary War?

(6) Is slavery a form of colonialism? Explain.

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----2. All persons have the right to self-determination; by virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.

----3. Inadequacy of political, economic, social or educational preparedness should never serve as a pretext for delaying independence.

----4. All armed action or repressive measures of all kinds directed against dependent peoples shall cease in order to enable them to exercise peacefully and freely their right to complete independence, and the integrity of their national territory shall be respected.

----5. Immediate steps shall be taken, in Trust and Non-Self-Governing Territories or all other territories which have not yet attained independence, to transfer all powers to the peoples of those territories, without any conditions or reservations, in accordance with their freely expressed will and desire, without any distinction as to race, creed or colour, in order to enable them to enjoy complete independence and freedom.

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Explanatory Notes

Section 2 states that all peoples have the right of self-determination and can determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development. Self-determination is not a privilege, it is a right that every group of people have. Even if the struggle of Black People in this country were founded on a less substantial foundation, We could still demand to govern Ourselves and be within Our rights. But, Our demands are buttressed by one of the strongest arguments possible. We were militarily attacked, kidnapped and forcefully brought to this country, classified as chattel and worked against Our will without a semblance of reasonable compensation, raped, castrated, lynched and intimidated and, after all of that, denied the right to govern Ourselves after We had freed Ourselves from slavery. White america, indeed, committed one of the most heinous crimes in the history of humankind against Us, Black People.

We still have the right to determine Our political status and freely pursue economic, social and cultural developmental paths that will benefit Us as a race of people and better enable Us to contribute to the betterment of all peoples, wherever they may be. The law is on Our side. We must take advantage of the opportunities the law has made available to Us.

Section 4 states that all armed action or repressive measures of all kinds directed against dependent peoples shall cease in order to enable them to exercise peacefully and freely their right to complete independence, and the integrity of their national territory shall be respected. What this means is the following: By virtue of the control the United States has exerted over Us, and by virtue of the nature of Our presence in white America, We have acquired the status of a dependent people. Once We, Black People, decide to form a Black nation and govern Ourselves, there is nothing the United States government can legally do to stop Us. Since white America will try to stop Us, whatever is done can be used to further Our claim against them and garner support for Our cause. In short, We would not be acting illegally by seeking to govern Ourselves, but the United States would be acting illegally by trying to stop Us from governing Ourselves. We have the law on Our side. We should take advantage of it.

Section 5 refers to territories. This is relevant because, after We had freed Ourselves during the Civil War, large groups of former slaves occupied lands that were officially classified as territories, and several of these were governed by the Blacks who resided there. Later, many of these territories were returned to the southern states that had left the Union, but many of the Blacks there took up arms to defend their land and had to be militarily defeated by the Union army. Therefore, even though the status of the territories changed, the status of the Blacks who lived there never legally changed. They were later made citizens of the United States, without having any say-so in the matter, and without "their freely expressed will and desire." This little known part of Black History makes the question of territorial status relevant to Us as a nation of people.

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What is Colonialism?

Colonialism is the collective process of establishing and maintaining a colony. What is a colony? A colony is a community of people of the same nationality, race or culture who are concentrated in a particular place and are wrongfully exploited and governed by a different group of people or a group of people who live on a distant shore. It is noteworthy that Declaration 1514 refers to "colonial countries and peoples," because both African people and African countries have been colonized by various branches and nationalities of the white race.

Let's briefly review what took place in order to demonstrate how this applies to Black People in the United States. It is clear how Europeans colonized African countries for the purpose of extracting Africa's wealth and exporting it to Europe, but it is not as understandable how We, Black People in North America, could be a colony because We have thought only in terms of Us being enslaved. What We have to realize is that slavery is one of the forms colonialism takes.

In the late 1500s, the ruling class in England decided to establish a colony in the new world. They formed that colony by collecting some English people and shipping them to the new world. The English who were shipped to the new world were known as colonists, and were obligated to pay taxes to England and conduct economic activities that would generate profits. The profits were to be sent back to the ruling class in England.

In order to make this scheme work, another element was needed: cheap labor. Since free labor is the cheapest labor one can get, the English elites and colonists decided to establish a "colony within a colony." What this means in specific terms is that the decision was made to wrongfully exploit and govern a second group of colonists, an entirely different nation of colonists---the native inhabitants of the new world. This second group of colonists would possess less rights and privileges than the first group of colonists. However, Native Americans proved unreceptive to being colonized. Since they were not equipped to adequately defend themselves against the whites (see Ten Lessons: An Introduction to Black History, "Why the Indians Failed to Successfully Defend Themselves Against White People"), they were practically exterminated.

It was at this point, as the result of a joint venture involving the Catholic church, white businessmen and European governments, that the decision was made to colonize Africa's people. By this process, Black People on the African continent were kidnapped and forcefully transferred to the new world, where they were wrongfully exploited and governed (owned) by Englishmen and England's colonists. Thus, the Black People who were shipped to the new world became the "colony within the colony." When England's colonists declared their independence and won the Revolutionary War, their status changed from colony to country. However, the status of Black People did not change. We were still a colonized people. We were still wrongfully exploited and governed (owned) by people who were foreigners to Us.

Please review this information and give it some additional thought.

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