24
Apr
09

On This Day, April 24: The Bandung Conference

April 24, 1955

The Bandung Conference concludes

The Afro-Asian Conference–popularly known as the Bandung Conference because it was held in Bandung, Indonesia–comes to a close on this day. During the conference, representatives from 29 “non-aligned” nations in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East met to condemn colonialism, decry racism, and express their reservations about the growing Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union.

The Bandung Conference grew out of an increasing sense of frustration and alienation among the so-called “non-aligned” nations of Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. These were nations that preferred to remain neutral during the Cold War, believing that their interests would not be served by allying with either the United States or the Soviet Union. In April 1955, representatives from 29 of these nations, including Egypt, Indonesia, India, Iraq, and the People’s Republic of China, met to consider the issues they considered most pressing. Various speeches and resolutions condemned colonialism and imperialism and called for the freedom of all subjugated peoples. Racism in all forms was likewise criticized, with the apartheid system of South Africa coming in for particularly harsh denunciations. The assembled nations also called for an end to the nuclear arms race and the elimination of atomic weapons. The fundamental message of many of the sessions was the same: the Cold War struggle between the United States and the Soviet Union had little meaning to nations battling for economic development, improved health, and better crop yields, and fighting against the forces of colonialism and racism.

The United States government was generally appalled by the Bandung Conference. Although invited to do so, it refused to send an unofficial observer to the meetings. Secretary of State John Foster Dulles was already on record as equating neutralism in the fight against communism as close to a mortal sin. For the United States, the issue was black and white: join America in the fight against communism or risk being considered a potential enemy. This unfortunate policy brought the United States into numerous conflicts with nations of the underdeveloped world who were struggling to find a middle road in the Cold War conflict.

“The Bandung Conference concludes,” The History Channel website, 2009, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=2647 [accessed Apr 24, 2009]

On This Day

1547 – Charles V’s troops defeated the Protestant League of Schmalkalden at the battle of Muhlburg.

1800 – The Library of Congress was established with a $5,000 allocation.

1805 – The U.S. Marines attacked and captured the town of Derna in Tripoli.

1877 – In the U.S., federal troops were ordered out of New Orleans. This was the end to the North’s post-Civil War rule in the South.

1898 – Spain declared war on the U.S., rejecting America’s ultimatum for Spain to withdraw from Cuba.

1916 – Irish nationalist launched the Easter Rebellion against British occupation forces. They were overtaken several days later.

1948 – The Berlin airlift began to relieve the surrounded city.

1961 – U.S. President Kennedy accepted “sole responsibility” following Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba.

1970 – The People’s Republic of China launched its first satellite.

1981 – The IBM Personal Computer was introduced.

1990 – The space shuttle Discovery blasted off from Cape Canaveral, FL. It was carrying the $1.5 billion Hubble Space Telescope.

2003 – A U.S. official reported the North Korea had claimed to have nuclear weapons.

April 24, 1863

General Orders No. 100 issued

The Union army issues General Orders No. 100, which provided a code of conduct for Federal soldiers and officers when dealing with Confederate prisoners and civilians. The code was borrowed by many European nations, and its influence can be seen on the Geneva Convention.

The orders were the brainchild of Francis Lieber, a Prussian immigrant whose three sons had served during the Civil War. One son was mortally wounded while fighting for the Confederacy at the Battle of Williamsburg, Virginia, in 1862. Lieber’s other two sons fought for the Union. Lieber was a scholar of international law who took a keen interest in the treatment of combatants and civilians. He wrote many essays and newspaper articles on the subject early in the war, and he advised General Henry Halleck, general-in-chief of the Union armies, on how to treat guerilla fighters captured by Federal forces.

Halleck appointed a committee of four generals and Lieber to draft rules of combat for the Civil War. The final document consisted of 157 articles written almost entirely by Lieber. The orders established policies for, among other things, the treatment of prisoners, exchanges, and flags of truce. There was no document like it in the world at the time, and other countries soon adopted the code. It became the standard for international military law, and the Germans adopted it by 1870. Lieber’s concepts are still very influential today.

“General Orders No. 100 issued,” The History Channel website, 2009, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=2183 [accessed Apr 24, 2009]

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