Belated Decolonization and UN Politics against the Backdrop of the Cold War

Portugal, Britain and Guinea Bissau's Proclamation of Independence, 1973-1974

Norrie MacQueen

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    When a guerrilla movement opposing Portuguese rule in Guinea-Bissau issued a unilateral declaration of independence in September 1973, it created a dilemma for Portugal's allies in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Although Britain, like other NATO countries, wanted to keep Portugal within the alliance, British officials were exasperated by the Portuguese regime's refusal to let go of its colonies in Africa. When the United Nations (UN) took up the issue of Guinea-Bissau, Britain came under intense pressure from Portugal to proffer its support. Declassified documents from the British National Archives underscore the difficulties that ensued. British officials were mindful of their relationship with Portugal, but they were unsure of the intentions of the other Western permanent members of the UN Security Council and were worried about damaging Britain's broader position in Africa. This dilemma was not resolved until April 1974 when a military coup in Lisbon led to the Portuguese withdrawal from Guinea-Bissau.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)29-56
    Number of pages28
    JournalJournal of Cold War Studies
    Volume8
    Issue number4
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Oct 2006

    Fingerprint

    Guinea-Bissau
    decolonization
    Portugal
    cold war
    UNO
    politics
    NATO
    declaration of independence
    guerrilla
    allies
    withdrawal
    Military
    regime
    Cold War
    Guinea
    United Nations
    Proclamation
    Decolonization
    Treaties
    North Atlantic

    Cite this

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    title = "Belated Decolonization and UN Politics against the Backdrop of the Cold War: Portugal, Britain and Guinea Bissau's Proclamation of Independence, 1973-1974",
    abstract = "When a guerrilla movement opposing Portuguese rule in Guinea-Bissau issued a unilateral declaration of independence in September 1973, it created a dilemma for Portugal's allies in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Although Britain, like other NATO countries, wanted to keep Portugal within the alliance, British officials were exasperated by the Portuguese regime's refusal to let go of its colonies in Africa. When the United Nations (UN) took up the issue of Guinea-Bissau, Britain came under intense pressure from Portugal to proffer its support. Declassified documents from the British National Archives underscore the difficulties that ensued. British officials were mindful of their relationship with Portugal, but they were unsure of the intentions of the other Western permanent members of the UN Security Council and were worried about damaging Britain's broader position in Africa. This dilemma was not resolved until April 1974 when a military coup in Lisbon led to the Portuguese withdrawal from Guinea-Bissau.",
    author = "Norrie MacQueen",
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