History, European Presence
German colony, Treaty of Versailles, International Court of Justice, military forces, missionaries
Between a landing by Portuguese explorer Bartolomeu Dias in 1488 and the creation of German South-West Africa in 1884, most of the few Europeans who visited the territory were explorers, missionaries, and hunters. The next three decades of German rule were marked by bloody suppression of the rebellious black Africans, notably the once dominant Herero, whose revolt in 1904 was not finally crushed until four years later at the cost of perhaps 60,000 lives.
In 1915, during World War I, the German colony was conquered by military forces of the Union (now Republic) of South Africa. Germany renounced sovereignty over the region in the Treaty of Versailles, and in 1920 the League of Nations granted South Africa mandate over the territory. In 1946 the United Nations (UN) General Assembly requested South Africa to submit a trusteeship agreement to the UN to replace the mandate of the defunct League of Nations; South Africa refused to do so. In 1949 a South African constitutional amendment extended parliamentary representation to South-West Africa. The International Court of Justice, however, ruled in 1950 that the status of the mandate could be changed only with the consent of the UN. South Africa agreed to discuss the trusteeship question with a special committee of the General Assembly, but the negotiations ended in failure in 1951. South Africa subsequently refused to accede to UN demands concerning a trusteeship arrangement, but it permitted a UN committee to enter Namibia in 1962 in order to investigate charges of atrocities committed against the native peoples. The committee found the charges against South Africa to be baseless.
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