Courtesy Reuters

Self-Government in U. S. Territories

NOW that the United Nations have focused the attention of the world on non-self-governing areas, it is appropriate for Americans to review conditions in their own territories and island possessions. The United States likes to boast that it is one major nation that has no "colonial empire." That is certainly true as far as the literal interpretation of the phrase goes. Yet we must not forget that we are responsible for some 3,000,000 people who live in what the United Nations Charter describes as "non-self-governing territories." Unquestionably, the American people desire that every one of their territories and island possessions shall eventually be freed in name and in fact from the status of dependency and shall ultimately achieve self-government, whether in the form of independence, statehood in the federal union or some other popularly-chosen political status.

The responsibilities of administering Powers have been spelled out in the Charter of the United Nations. Article 73 of Chapter XI states that "Members of the United Nations which have or assume responsibilities for the administration of territories whose peoples have not yet attained a full measure of self-government recognize the principle that the interests of the inhabitants of these territories are paramount, and accept as a sacred trust the obligation to promote to the utmost, within the system of international peace and security established by the present Charter, the well-being of the inhabitants of these territories."

Sections b and e of Article 73 are of particular concern to us. The former instructs the administering powers "to develop self-government, to take due account of the political aspirations of the peoples, and to assist them in the progressive development of their free political institutions, according to the particular circumstances of each territory and its peoples and their varying stages of advancement." Judged by these objectives, the American record in Alaska, Hawaii, the Philippines, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands has been a fairly creditable one.

Section e of Article 73 requires nations with dependencies "to transmit regularly to the Secretary-General

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