Egypt's commitment to sovereingty and self-determination (at the United Nations 1945-1952)

Leila Henein


The common understanding in Egypt is that one of the main reasons behind the 1952 Revolution was the State's conspiring with the imperialist powers, and its lack of patriotism. This paper argues that this understanding is unfounded, and that Egypt fought against colonialism long before 1952. In fact, the Egyptians were outraged by the influence that the British kept in their country during the Second World War. Therefore, ever since Egypt was invited to join the United Nations when it was established in 1945, it has seized every opportunity to voice its anti-colonial sentiment. It aimed at the demise of imperialism. Egypt has participated in drafting the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It has also defended the rights of small states at the United Nations, and stood by them to acquire independence and self-determination from their respective colonial powers. Egypt also defended the sovereignty of states threatened by the ambitions of the poles of the rising Cold War. It has even gone to war for the sake of Palestine's territorial integrity. Since the Palestinian war in 1948, one of Egypt's major concerns has been the rights of the Palestinian refugees. In order to be able to fight for its ultimate goal, self-determination, Egypt has adopted a policy of impartiality so as not fall in either of the two camps of the Cold War. It has also become a leader in the region since the early years of the UN. Egypt has maintained one continuous line throughout the years, that of striving for self-determination and antagonizing all forms of colonialism or interference in other states' affairs. Its activities at the United Nations from 1945 till 1952 account for the gradual emergence of Egypt from a colonized country to an impartial leading state. Committed to the sovereignty and self-determination of other nations as well as its own, Egypt's foreign policy has had these same broad lines since 1945 till today.