The Idea Of Self-Determination

College of Political Knowledge

Self-determination denotes the legal right of people to decide their own destiny in the international order.  Self-determination is a core principle of international law, arising from customary international law, but also recognized as a general principle of law, and enshrined in a number of international treaties.  For instance, self-determination is protected in the United Nations Charter and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights as a right of “all peoples.” 

The scope and purpose of the principle of self-determination has evolved significantly in the 20th century.  In the early 1900’s, international support grew for the right of all people to self-determination.  This led to successful secessionist movements during and after WWI, WWII and laid the groundwork for decolonization in the 1960s. 

Contemporary notions of self-determination usually distinguish between “internal” and “external” self-determination, suggesting that “self-determination” exists on a spectrum.  Internal self-determination may refer to various political and social rights; by contrast, external self-determination refers to full legal independence/secession for the given ‘people’ from the larger politico-legal state.

Now that the much used term has been defined….let’s look at what the UN has to say on this front…..

Essentially, the right to self-determination is the right of a people to determine its own destiny. In particular, the principle allows a people to choose its own political status and to determine its own form of economic, cultural and social development. Exercise of this right can result in a variety of different outcomes ranging from political independence through to full integration within a state. The importance lies in the right of choice, so that the outcome of a people’s choice should not affect the existence of the right to make a choice. In practice, however, the possible outcome of an exercise of self-determination will often determine the attitude of governments towards the actual claim by a people or nation. Thus, while claims to cultural autonomy may be more readily recognized by states, claims to independence are more likely to be rejected by them. Nevertheless, the right to self-determination is recognized in international law as a right of process (not of outcome) belonging to peoples and not to states or governments.

The preferred outcome of an exercise of the right to self-determination varies greatly among the members of UNPO. For some of our members, the only acceptable outcome is full political independence. This is particularly true of occupied or colonized nations. For others, the goal is a degree of political, cultural and economic autonomy, sometimes in the form of a federal relationship. For others yet, the right to live on and manage a people’s traditional lands free of external interference and incursion is the essential aim of a struggle for self-determination. Other members, such as Taiwan and Somaliland, have already achieved a high-level or full self-determination, but are yet to be recognized as independent states by the international community.

https://unpo.org/article/4957

I thought is that if a people in a majority vote want to determine their own future than they should be given the right….but sadly in this world the power does no longer belong to the people but rather to money and those that control it.

An interested look at Self-determination from a post-graduate student…..https://www.e-ir.info/2014/04/17/what-is-self-determination-using-history-to-understand-international-relations/

Now that we have looked at ‘the right of self-determination’ I would appreciate your thoughts on this….

amicus populi

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2 thoughts on “The Idea Of Self-Determination

  1. In a society controlled by bilionaires and corrupt media, I suggest that ‘self-determination’ is more of a myth than a reality.
    Best wishes, Pete.

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