Decolonization is the process by which a colonized region and its inhabitants gain independence from a colonial power, a process opposite to colonization. In the past, decolonization could be achieved by attaining independence, integrating with the administering power or another state, or establishing a “free association” status. The United Nations has stated that, in the process of decolonization, there is no alternative to the principle of self-determination. The right of nations to self-determination is a cardinal principle in modern international law (commonly regarded as a jus cogens rule). The principle states that nations, based on respect of equal rights and fair equality of opportunity, have the right to freely choose their sovereignty and international political status with no interference.

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