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International law and international politics have a strong disposition not to disturb existing borders. The United Nations has overseen a massive process of 'decolonisation'. The old empires have been dismantled and the colonised peoples have been liberated to run their own lands. But many of the land that had come together under the rule of colonial powers, in Africa, Asia and elsewhere, had lumped together quite distinct peoples and their respective territories.

When freedom was finally attained, it was generally on the basis of the old colonial boundaries. This has created stresses and sometimes conflict among the different peoples and some of the post-colonial states have broken up. Differences among peoples brought together by a departed colonial master continue to present challenges in parts of Africa and as close to Australia as Indonesia.

Keywords: colonialism, colonisation, decolonisation, International law, United Nations

Author: Nettheim, Garth