The diplomacy of decolonisation

America, Britain and the United Nations during the Congo crisis 1960-1964

By Alanna O'Malley

The diplomacy of decolonisation


  • eBook
  • Paperback

Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-1626-0
  • Pages: 224
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £85.00
  • Published Date: January 2018
  • BIC Category: POLITICAL SCIENCE / World / African, HISTORY / Africa / Central, POLITICAL SCIENCE / Colonialism & Post-Colonialism, POLITICAL SCIENCE / International Relations / Diplomacy, Society & social sciences / Diplomacy, Humanities / National liberation & independence, post-colonialism, Humanities / Colonialism & imperialism, International Relations, Society & social sciences / International relations, International relations, Society & social sciences / United Nations & UN agencies, Democratic Republic Of Congo (Zaire), Sub-Saharan Africa
  • Series: Key Studies in Diplomacy


The book reinterprets the role of the UN during the Congo crisis from 1960 to 1964, presenting a multidimensional view of the organisation. Through an examination of the Anglo-American relationship, the book reveals how the UN helped position this event as a lightning rod in debates about how decolonisation interacted with the Cold War. By examining the ways in which the various dimensions of the UN came into play in Anglo-American considerations of how to handle the Congo crisis, the book reveals how the Congo debate reverberated in wider ideological struggles about how decolonisation evolved and what the role of the UN would be in managing this process. The UN became a central battle ground for ideas and visions of world order; as the newly-independent African and Asian states sought to redress the inequalities created by colonialism, the US and UK sought to maintain the status quo, while the Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld tried to reconcile these two contrasting views.


'Anyone who wants to understand the Congo crisis of the early 1960s must read this impressive book.'
Chris Saunders, Emeritus Professor, University of Capetown

'An excellent study of the Congo crisis from the point of view of the UN and with an eye to transatlantic exchanges. O'Malley's extensive research in the UN, American, and British archives offers a complete picture of bilateral and trilateral relations.'
Alessandro Iandolo, St Catherine's College, University of Oxford

'A sharp, perceptive, multi-level analysis of one of the most difficult crises the UN had to manage. O'Malley weaves together empire and decolonisation, internationalism and the Cold War, great power rivalry and public diplomacy, to give us an original, inspiring representation of the complexity - and fickleness - of international politics.'
Federico Romero, Professor of History of Post-War European Cooperation and Integration, European University Institute

'A thought-provoking and valuable new emphasis on the broad themes of decolonization, the UN and the Congo at the macro level, O'Malley also provides lively, engaging discussions of innumerable examples at the micro level by drawing on global sources gleaned from a dizzying array of at least 15 archives in at least 6 different nations.'
Andy DeRoche, Front Range Community College

'You will be hard-pressed to find a more provocative, original interpretation of the Congo crisis. In Alanna O'Malley's hands, the Congo is an entrepôt, illuminating the United Nations' autonomy in international affairs while highlighting the tensions that coursed through the North Atlantic and Afro-Asian alliances. Diplomacy of Decolonisation is indispensable to students of African international history, and essential reading for anyone who wants to understand the Cold War and decolonisation. '
Ryan Irwin, University at Albany

'This latest work on the complex and controversial Congo crisis is clear, well researched and expertly put together, while providing some fresh insights and coverage of the Stanleyville hostage crisis.'
John Kent, London School of Economics

'Alanna O'Malley has made an important contribution to our understanding of the Congo Crisis as a turning point of international politics. The book's primary strength lies in exploring, juxtaposing, and connecting the larger historical forces that shaped, and were themselves shaped by, the conflict: decolonization, the rise of the non-aligned bloc and the UN, shifting us policy towards Africa, and the decline of European colonial politics in an era of mounting Cold War tensions. . A well-crafted and sober analysis of multilateral diplomacy that resists the temptation to delve into plots, conspiracy theories, and behind-the-scenes machinations.'
Volker Prott, Aston University, Diplomatica


1. A challenge for humanity
2. The Dag factor
3. Fighting over Katanga
4. 'After Dag - what?'
5. 'A nice little stew'
6. The Stanleyville hostages and the withdrawal of the UN, 1964


Alanna O'Malley is a Professor of United Nations Studies in Peace and Justice at Leiden University

Newsletter Sign Up

Manchester University Press

Your cart is empty.

Select your shipping destination to estimate postage costs

(Based on standard shipping costs)

Final cost calculated on checkout
Promotional codes can be added on Checkout