Aurora Almada e Santos, researcher at the Instituto de História Contemporânea of the Universidade Nova de Lisboa, in Portugal, presents the talk “The Portuguese Colonial Policy at the United Nations: An Analysis of the Arguments” as a part of the lecture series, “Charting the Portuguese Black Atlantic" at New York University.
While most of the European colonial powers somehow managed after World War II to decolonize, Portugal, under the dictatorship of the Estado Novo (New State) regime, remained committed to preserve its colonial rule, namely in Angola, Mozambique, Guinea, Cabo Verde, and Sao Tome e Principe. After the country’s admission as United Nations (UN) member state in 1955 the relations between the organization and Portugal were characterized by mutual disagreement, born from Portuguese reluctance before 1974 to acknowledge the international oversight of its colonial policy. Involved in a multi-dimensional and complex struggle against the liberation movements, Portugal fought to preserve the colonies through both military operations and an active diplomatic engagement. Portugal mobilized at the UN different arguments based on its colonial ideology, often using political, historical, moral, and legal language. Scholarly writing on the struggle for the independence of Portuguese colonies has neglected how Portugal articulated its colonial policy at the UN. Since there is still room for research, my presentation will address the arguments used by Portugal at the UN to undermine the calls to implement the right for self-determination.
Aurora Almada e Santos is a researcher at the Contemporary History Institute of the New University of Lisbon and a Fulbright post-doctoral researcher at Tulane University. Her scientific area of activity is the International History and her domain of specialization is the international dimension of the struggle for self-determination and independence of Portuguese colonies. Having as major focus the role played by the international organizations, in her master and PhD she gave special attention to the activities developed by the United Nations regarding the Portuguese colonial issue. She intended to demonstrate that in the analysis of Portuguese decolonization it is necessary to take into account the UN pressure. Her academic activities includes the publishing of articles and book chapters, the participation in conferences in Portugal and abroad, the organization of publications and conferences, the review of articles, the collaboration in the executive board of a peer review journal, the contribution for working groups and the membership of professional associations