The diplomacy of decolonisation

America, Britain and the United Nations during the Congo crisis 1960– 1964

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Alanna O’Malley
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In 1962, Congo was catapulted into the international consciousness as the scene of conflict and confusion when a civil and constitutional crisis erupted just a week after the independence ceremony. The breakdown of law and order began when the Congolese army, the Force Publique, mutinied against their Belgian officers, leading to violence and chaos in the capital Leopoldville. This book reinterprets the role of the United Nations (UN) Organization in this conflict by presenting a multidimensional view of how the UN operated in response to the crisis. The United States (US) and Britain were directly involved with formulating UN Congo policy, through an examination of the Anglo-American relationship. The book analyses how the crisis became positioned as a lightning rod in the interaction of decolonisation with the Cold War, and wider relations between North and South. It establishes why, in 1960, the outbreak of the Congo crisis and its successive internationalisation through UN intervention was an important question for Anglo-American relations. The book highlights the changing nature of the UN from 1960 to 1961. It focuses on the emergence of a new US policy in New York. Discussing the role of United Nations activities in the Congo (Operation des Nations Unies au Congo), it explains why military incursions into Katanga in September, and again in December of 1961, proved damaging to the Anglo-American relationship. The invigoration of the Secretariat, demands of the Afro-Asian bloc, Operation UNOKAT, and efforts to construct a Western friendly regime in the Congo are also discussed.

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