Trustee for the Human Community: Ralph Bunche and the Decolozoniation of Africa
Martin Kilson and Neta Crawford Thu 3rd June 2004 7pm-9:30 pm (day 1); 8am - 7pm Faculty Center, Royce Hall Globalization Research Center--Africa, James S. Coleman African Studies Center, UCLA School of Law, The UCLA Center for Modern and Contemporary Studies
Thursday, June 03, 2004
8:00 AM - 7:00 PM
Los Angeles, CA 90095
‘Trustee for the Human Community’*:
Ralph J. Bunche and the Decolonization of Africa
Ralph J. Bunche was a key figure in planning the international trusteeship system that paved the way for the decolonization process following the Second World War. This momentous change sounded the death-knell of empire and imperialism. Indeed, it would be difficult to think of an-other individual whose role exceeded or even equalled that of Bunche’s in terms of meeting the challenges of postwar decolonization as well as the issues of international security and peace.
Starting from his position as head of the Africa Section in the Research and Analysis Branch with the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) in 1941-1942, then continuing with his position with the planning group of U. S. State Department working on the future of the colonial world, to his criti-cal role in the drafting of the United Nations Charter (Chapters XI, XII and XIII) dealing with colonial territories, and, culminating with his position as head of the United Nations Secretariat in charge of the Trusteeship Department and his position as UN Undersecretary General in charge of peacekeeping—Bunche’s career recapitulates as well as provides a veritable roadmap of the “great and worldwide change in international relations” that was ushered in by the postwar de-colonization process. From the vantage point of his role with the United Nations, Bunche occu-pied a rather special seat at the table of power.
In conjunction with and as part of UCLA’s yearlong celebration of the centenary of Ralph Bunche’s life, the Marcus Garvey Papers Project and the UCLA Globalization Research Center-Africa are taking the lead in organizing a major international conference under the auspices of the James S. Coleman African Studies Center that will focus on the life and significance of Ralph Bunche, with specific reference to Bunche’s role in African de-colonization. The conference will be held here at UCLA, June 3-4, 2004 and is entitled:
“‘TRUSTEE FOR THE HUMAN COMMUNITY’:
RALPH J. BUNCHE AND THE DECOLONIZATION OF AFRICA”
The target audience will not only be the UCLA community, but also interested individuals from the regional community at large. In addition to recognizing and evaluating the critical importance of Ralph Bunche as a key architect and theoretician of the decolonizing process, the aim of the conference will be to re-examine the process of Africa’s decolonization taken as a whole. In addi-tion, the conference will aim at evaluating the significant role of America and, specifically, Afri-can Americans, in spearheading the demand for African independence. Taken together, the con-ference will attempt to provide a scholarly balance sheet for understanding the history of post-independence Africa. It is anticipated that the papers presented at the conference will be pub-lished as an edited volume under the auspices of the African Studies Center.
Prepared by Professors Robert Hill and Edmond Keller
May 21, 2003
* Ralph J. Bunche, “U.N.—Trustee for the Human Community,” in Robert Cousins, ed., The Will To Think: A Treasury of Ideas and Ideals from the Pages of Think (New York, 1957).