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whole_HawkesValmaRae1969_thesis.pdf (17.06 MB)

South Africa's withdrawal from the Commonwealth : a response to multi-racialism?.

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posted on 2023-05-26, 20:49 authored by Hawkes, Valma Rae
At the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference held in London 3-13 May 1960, an attempt was made by the Tunku Abdul Rahman to have South African racial problems debated. Although the Conference subsequently agreed not to discuss the matter as a conference, Mr. Louw agreed to informal discussions with limited groups of Prime Ministers. Thus a showdown with South Africa was temporarily averted, although part of the communique issued by the Conference, for the first time publicly expressed the Commonwealth's belief in the equality of peoples : \The ministers emphasized that the Commonwealth itself is a multi-racial association and expressed the need to ensure good relations between all member states and peoples of the Commonwealth.\" The Conference also made clear South Africa's position regarding an application for republican membership. It was decided that in the event of South Africa choosing to become a republic her continued membership in the Commonwealth would not be automatic. Conference refused to anticipate the issue despite the fact that a precedent had been set in 1957 when a Prime Ministers' Conference had agreed in advance to Ceylon remaining in the Commonwealth as a republican member. Thus the 1960 Conference although technically a victory for those members who believed intrinsically in the observance of non-interference in domestic affairs was in essence a clear adumbration that their predominance was on the wane and that confrontation of South Africa would not long be delayed. (vii) This was borne out by the events of the 1961 Conference when countries hostile to South Africa made their attitudes clear. South Africa's racial policies were to determine the decision to allow the Republic of South Africa to remain within the Commonwealth. With mutual intransigence Dr. Verwoerd and his opponents failed to find a compromise. The former remained steadfast in his belief that apartheid was the only practical solution to his country's racial problems and the latter adamantly maintained that South Africa's racial policies were a threat both to Commonwealth cohesion and world peace. Dr. Verwoerd eventually withdrew his country's application to remain as a republican member of the Commonwealth an action which was a significant landmark both in the evolution of the Commonwealth and in the development of the South African nation. Thus a bald summary of the immediate events preceding South Africa's withdrawal It is the purpose of this thesis to trace the long-term pressures which were present in South Africa firstly as a result of her multi-racial society and secondly as a result of her membership in the multi-racial Commonwealth. The Documents (Appendices C and D) have been included to highlight :- (i) the consistency of the Afrikaner antipathy for the symbols of Commonwealth association; (ii) the widespread nature of the hostility of Commonwealth members to South Africa's racial policy. (iii)To show the interwoven threads of conflict at home and hostility abroad - the combined effects being felt particularly in the context of South Africa's Commonwealth membership. South Africa's racial complexity has stimulated the proposal of a unique modus operandi for solving the great problems of a multi-racial society in a decade where it has become obvious that few if any multi-racial societies have succeeded in overcoming the evils of prejudice and social and economic discrimination although as in the case of India Britain and the United States there have been legislative attempts to do so. South Africa's crime in the post-war world has been to appear to legislate for the indefinite extension of White supremacy within the Union. This permanent aspect of apartheid has become less attractive to international society as each year new nations add to the heterogeneity of institutions and associations such as the U.N. and the Commonwealth. Apartheid therefore has been a target of vilification for more than two decades though few of its antagonists have ventured a practicable alternative which could take into account the fact that White South Africans have no other home. The tendency of the nations of the world to cluster in self-conscious racial divisions in the display of attitudes and reactions to many vital political issues has caused apartheid to assume the role of a chronic irritant in international affairs. The unprecedented collapse and the discrediting of \"colonialism\" (with its loose and ubiquitous definitions) have rendered Afrikaner Nationalism (and notions of racial superiority) an anachronism in an era marked by both adherence to the ideal of equality of all peoples and by the growth of \"white guilt\". Thus a thesis on South Africa's withdrawal from the Commonwealth has some significance as a task performed in an Australian university. While no claim is made that in South Africa similar undertakings may not be under way in Australia there has been relatively little apparent interest in the issue. This is in spite of the fact that it highlights the development of an exclusive White nationalism interested in preserving a unique culture in close proximity to vast numbers of alien peoples and that it reveals the collective and irresistible determination of the non-White Commonwealth to extract racial justice (perhaps revenge) from the Commonwealth association. The study of South Africa's withdrawal sheds much light on both the influence of racialism in international affairs and on the excesses and resources of the defence mechanism of a beleaguered nationalism. It shows the complexity of the problems of achieving multi-racial co-existence within a single state and multi-racial co-operation within an international association."


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Copyright 1968 the Author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s). Thesis (M.A.) - University of Tasmania, 1969. Includes bibliography

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