Skinner, Carlton
October 1963
Foreign Affairs;Oct63, Vol. 42 Issue 1, p137
Academic Journal
The article focuses on the Pacific Ocean islands and surrounding waters which are represented internationally in the South Pacific Commission. The present auspicious political climate in Pacific Oceania is surprising because most of the mistakes that were made in Africa and Asia during the colonial era were duplicated in the Pacific Islands. Here, political development, while strongly influenced by tribal organization, is surprisingly sophisticated. Democratic institutions are well planted--elected councils, legislative bodies, courts of law, secret ballots and universal suffrage are well established in most areas. While these islands are almost all defined as "non-self-governing"--the criterion for the coverage of the South Pacific Commission--most of them manage their own affairs and have a degree of self-government substantially in excess of that of many countries in the United Nations. Perhaps the earliest to come under Western influence were Guam and the Marianas, which received Catholic priests and Spanish soldiers in the 1600s. Others like New Caledonia were not under European influence until the late 1800s.


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