Discuss the independence of Brunei.

Brunei gained its independence from Great Britain in 1984. This was the culmination of a lengthy diplomatic process which had been in train for over a decade. Over time, Brunei had acquired greater control over its own affairs, whereas Britain remained in charge of its defense and foreign policy. But from midnight on January 1, 1984, Brunei finally took control of all aspects of policy, both foreign and domestic.

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In some territories, the process of decolonization was attended with violence, chaos, and bloodshed. (One has only to think of the partition of India.) But the road to Brunei's independence was thankfully a good deal smoother.

Largely, this was because Brunei already enjoyed a considerably greater degree of independence than most other colonies in the British Empire. Under the terms of the 1959 Constitution, Brunei was given complete responsibility for its own internal affairs; the British would only be responsible for foreign affairs and defense. But ultimate domestic authority would reside with the Sultan, who was made Supreme Head of State.

At the time, the Constitution was generally seen as a stage on the road to eventual independence for Brunei. The British Prime Minister at the time, Harold Macmillan, was a supporter of decolonization, and in a famous speech in 1960, he spoke of "the winds of change" blowing through the African continent. Although Brunei isn't in Africa, the same sentiment applied to Britain's future relationship with the sultanate.

The next stage on the road to Brunei's independence took place in 1971, when Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah came to London to discuss changes in Brunei–UK relations. Under the ensuing agreement, Brunei and Great Britain would share the responsibility for Brunei's security and defense. A further treaty signed in 1979 gave Brunei even greater international responsibilities. From now on, it was just a matter of time before Brunei became completely independent.

As we've seen, this came on the stroke of midnight on New Year's Day, 1984. A proclamation of independence was read out to excited crowds by Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah. Eight months later, the newly-independent Brunei was admitted to the United Nations as its 159th member state.

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