Today, we broadcast the final Pacific News Minute of 2017 and Neal Conan continues his series on big stories that will continue to reverberate in the coming year - today: decolonization.
The seven decades since the end of the Second World War saw colonization dismantled across the Pacific. As new nations marched and talked and voted and, sometimes, shot their way to independence. Just a few vestiges remain.
At the conclusion of a thirty year process, New Caledonia holds a referendum on independence from France this coming year. A vote likely to influence the future in French Polynesia as well. Loyalists have recently dominated electoral politics in both territories. France scored a major diplomatic victory this year when the Pacific Islands Forum accepted both New Caledonia and French Polynesia as full members.
Eddie Calvo, the governor of the American territory of Guam, had hoped to offer Chamoros a non-binding plebiscite on their status, but Federal courts ruled that the electorate cannot be limited by race.
For many years, American Samoa expressed satisfaction with its territorial status, but recently started to raise questions about its future relations with Washington.
And then there’s West Papua. Indonesia seized the western half of New Guinea fifty years ago in a process many consider illegitimate. While more and more settlers continue to arrive, indigenous Papuans only formed a United Liberation Movement two years ago, which has now begun to have some success raising allegations of human rights violations and pressing the case for independence in international organizations.
So far at least, Jakarta rejects any discussion of what it regards as its internal affairs.