The United Nations and Decolonization: Non-Self-Governing Territories


The United Nations - TRANSCEND Media Service

Under Chapter XI of the Charter of the United Nations, the Non-Self-Governing Territories are defined as “territories whose people have not yet attained a full measure of self-government”.


The General Assembly, by its resolution 66 (I) of 14 December 1946, noted a list of 72 Territories to which Chapter XI of the Charter applied.

In 1963, the Special Committee on the Situation with regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples (also known as the “Special Committee on Decolonization” or the “C-24”) approved a preliminary list of Territories to which the Declaration applied (A/5446/Rev.1, annex I).

Today, 17 Non-Self-Governing Territories, as listed below, remain on the agenda of the C-24. Member States which have or assume responsibilities for the administration of such Territories are called administering Powers.

Last updated: 22 Sep 2020




Western Sahara Since 1963 [ii] 266,000 582,000


Anguilla Since 1946 United Kingdom 96 15,397
Bermuda Since 1946 United Kingdom 53.35 63,921
British Virgin Islands Since 1946 United Kingdom 153 31,197
Cayman Islands Since 1946 United Kingdom 264 65,813
Falkland Islands (Malvinas) [iii] Since 1946 United Kingdom 12,173 Approximately 3,200
Montserrat Since 1946 United Kingdom 103 4,649
Saint Helena Since 1946 United Kingdom 310 5,467
Turks and Caicos Islands Since 1946 United Kingdom 948.2 42,953
United States Virgin Islands Since 1946 United States 352 105,000


Gibraltar Since 1946 United Kingdom 5.8 34,003


American Samoa Since 1946 United States 200 60,300
French Polynesia 1946-1947 and since 2013 France 3,600 276,300
Guam Since 1946 United States 540 163,875
New Caledonia 1946-1947 and since 1986 France 18,575 268,767
Pitcairn Since 1946 United Kingdom 35.5 43
Tokelau Since 1946 New Zealand 12.2 1,499


[i] All data is from United Nations Secretariat 2020 Working Papers on Non-Self-Governing Territories, and for Western Sahara, from UNdata, a database by the United Nations Statistics Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, United Nations.

[ii] On 26 February 1976, Spain informed the Secretary-General that as of that date it had terminated its presence in the Territory of the Sahara and deemed it necessary to place on record that Spain considered itself thenceforth exempt from any responsibility of any international nature in connection with the administration of the Territory, in view of the cessation of its participation in the temporary administration established for the Territory. In 1990, the General Assembly reaffirmed that the question of Western Sahara was a question of decolonization which remained to be completed by the people of Western Sahara.

[iii] A dispute exists between the Governments of Argentina and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland concerning sovereignty over the Falkland Islands (Malvinas).

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