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Home > Main Library > Human Rights > Self-Determination, Right to > Right to Self-Determination: theory, standards and mechanisms (Commentary)

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Right to Self-Determination: theory, standards and mechanisms (Commentary)

Websites/Multiple Documents

Title: Self Determination (Wikipedia)
Description/subject: "The right of nations to self-determination (from[citation needed] German: Selbstbestimmungsrecht der Völker) is a cardinal principle in modern international law (commonly regarded as a jus cogens rule), binding, as such, on the United Nations as authoritative interpretation of the Charter’s norms. It states that nations, based on respect for the principle of equal rights and fair equality of opportunity, have the right to freely choose their sovereignty and international political status with no interference. This principle can be traced to the Atlantic Charter, signed on 14 August 1941, by Franklin D. Roosevelt, President of the United States of America, and Winston Churchill, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, who pledged The Eight Principal points of the Charter. It also is derived from principles espoused by President Woodrow Wilson following World War I, after which some new nation states were formed, or previous states were revived after the dissolution of empires. The principle does not state how the decision is to be made, nor what the outcome should be, whether it be independence, federation, protection, some form of autonomy or full assimilation. Neither does it state what the delimitation between nations should be— nor what constitutes a nation. There are conflicting definitions and legal criteria for determining which groups may legitimately claim the right to self-determination..."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Wikipedia
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 02 October 2016

Title: The International Law of Self-Determination (video)
Description/subject: Hurst Hannum, Professor of International Law The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy Tufts University
Author/creator: Hurst Hannum
Language: English
Source/publisher: (UN) Audiovisual Library of International Law
Format/size: Adobe Flash (51 minutes)
Date of entry/update: 03 October 2016

Individual Documents

Title: International Meeting of Experts on further study of the concept of the rights of peoples
Date of publication: 30 November 1989
Description/subject: FINAL REPORT AND RECOMMENDATIONS... Annex I - List of Participants; Annex II - Agenda..."...5. The right of peoples to self-determination is now well established by international law in the case of colonial peoples, peoples in dependent territories and peoples living under racist regimes. The right of peoples to self-determination in other States may sometimes come into conflict with the principle of State sovereignty which is an important element in the international legal order for safeguarding the right to peace. There is an understandable fear that, understood in one way, the peoples’ right to self-determination might lead to the fragmentation of States, the disruption of settled international boundaries, the breakdown of governmental authority and even manipulation of peoples for the purpose of disrupting the internal affairs of States. It is this concern which makes the further study of the rights of peoples both legitimate and important. Especially important is a further attempt to describe the features of a ‘people’ to whom, by international law, rights such as to existence as a people and to self-determination attach. This subject was the topic of much discussion during the meeting. History teaches that where a State does not have the appropriate legitimacy to represent a people or peoples living within its borders, the right of such peoples to self-determination may assert itself in popular unrest, revolution, or even war..."
Language: English
Source/publisher: UNESCO
Format/size: pdf (831K-reduced version; 1.5MB-original)
Alternate URLs: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0008/000851/085152eo.pdf
Date of entry/update: 19 July 2014

Title: International Meeting of Experts on further study of the concept of the rights of peoples - Report and Recommendations (unofficial draft)
Date of publication: 30 November 1989
Description/subject: "...The concept of peoples' rights is now established by universally recognised international law. Its existence cannot now validly be controverted; 2. Some peoples' rights are universally accepted. These include the peoples' right to right to existence, the right to self-determination and other rights; 3. There is however a continuing and legitimate debate about the precise content of still other rights claimed to be peoples' rights;..."
Author/creator: Michael Kirby (Chair)
Language: English
Source/publisher: UNESCO
Format/size: pdf (175K-reduced version; 971K-original)
Alternate URLs: http://www.michaelkirby.com.au/images/stories/speeches/1980s/vol21/806-UNESCO_-_Report_and_Recommen...
Date of entry/update: 19 July 2014

Date of publication: 30 November 1989
Description/subject: UNITED NATIONS EDUCATIONAL, SCIENTIFIC AND CULTURAL ORGANIZATION... International Experts Meeting on further study of the concept of the rights of peoples... Unesco, Paris 27-30 November 1989... RELATIONS BETWEEN RIGHTS OF PEOPLES AND HUMAN RIGHTS: Study prepared by Mr Leo Matarasso, President of Honour, International League for the Rights and the Liberation of Peoples....I. INTRODUCTION: "1. Unesco commissioned the International League for the Rights and the Liberation of Peoples to write a juridical study on the relationship between the rights of peoples and human rights, the latter as defined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as well as in the two International Covenants on Human Rights and, more particularly, on the relationship between the rights of peoples and cultural rights, the latter as defined in the three universal international instruments mentioned above. 2. In an endeavour to answer the questions thus formulated, this study will be limited to what is regarded as law in this field. Although it will not be possible to avoid completely all the historical, philosophical, political and moral considerations that are frequently linked with this issue, they will be reduced to the minimum necessary for a proper understanding of the law, as will all doctrinal controversies. Given this basis, this study can be no more than a survey, and, sometimes, even a rudimentary one. The approach has been positivist, and the study will, without any doubt, deserve all the censure it will incur: some readers will find it full of certitudes, whilst others will criticize it for its uncertainty; all will undoubtedly be right. 3. It was thought appropriate to give first the definition of the two concepts whose relationship we are to study: (I) the concept of human rights, and (II) that of the rights of peoples. The scope of our study thus determined, it is now for us to analyse more accurately the relationship between the two concepts before giving closer scrutiny to their relationship as far as cultural rights are concerned..."
Author/creator: Leo Matarasso
Language: English
Source/publisher: UNESCO
Format/size: pdf (134K)
Date of entry/update: 08 March 2010

Title: Evolving conceptions of group rights in international law
Date of publication: 1987
Description/subject: "...For more than two centuries, European law and philosophy have been preoccupied with liberating individuals from groups, whether it be the family, church, class, or state. Thus while the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations in 1948 acknowledged the psychological significance of social life, refering vaguely to the individual's "duties to the community in which alone the free and full development of his personality is possible," it made no distinction between "community" and "state," and made no provision for the protection of groups other than the state itself. Its vision was restricted to the autonomy of individuals, and for the better part of forty years, every mention of group rights (or individual responsibilities) has invited charges of recidivism and statism. All around us, current events are challenging the usefulness of this traditional view. Linguistic, religious, national and ethnic factors are implicated in the great majority of civil disorders and "bush wars," aggravated by disparities in economic power that often seem as great within states as between North and South. The collective identity and rights of intermediate sized groups — religious congregations, ethnic communities, families — is no longer merely an academic proposition. On the contrary, there is growing awareness that according such groups collective legal identity and rights may be absolutely essential for resolving many of the tensions in today's world without violence. My thesis is simple: recognizing the rights of groups other than States is a basic tool of peace..."
Author/creator: Russel Lawrence Barsh
Language: English
Source/publisher: "Transnational Perspectives", Volume 13, Number 1, 1987
Format/size: pdf (107K)
Date of entry/update: 30 August 2009

Date of publication: 1980
Description/subject: Study prepared by Special Rapporteur of the Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities
Author/creator: Hector Gros Espiell
Language: English
Source/publisher: United Nations (E/CN.4/Sub.2/405/Rev.1)
Format/size: pdf (14.3MB)
Date of entry/update: 02 October 2016