The process of decolonisation has had a profound effect on the structure of the international state system, including in the Asia Pacific. This article surveys the results of the decolonisation of the British, French, Dutch and Japanese Asian and Pacific empires. It also discusses the end of United Nations Trusteeships administered by the United States, Australia and New Zealand, as well as the governmental arrangements of other non-self-governing or dependent territories. With two Pacific territories, Bougainville (November 2019) and New Caledonia (August or September 2020), soon to vote on their political futures, it is timely to note that a process of self-determination does not always result in independence. The article shows that some territories have had their calls for independence ignored, while others enjoy high degrees of autonomy and self-government within nation states. In effect, this article, and the six papers included in this special edition, show that the process of decolonisation in the Asia Pacific has diverse economic, political and social impacts for sovereign states, as well as social and economic implications for individuals, including deportation, resettlement and ongoing struggles for self-determination. As such decolonisation was, is and will continue to be more than a political process.