On 4th July 1776, self-determination was established by the Declaration of Independence in the United States. It is recognized and enforceable under the international human rights law that peoples have the right to self-determination. This indicates that they have the right to decide their political status freely and as well strive for their economic, social, as well as cultural development. The core concept of self-determination initially originated from the French and American revolutions in the 18th century. This concept mainly stressed liberty, justice as well as freedom from authoritarianism rule. Due to World Wars I and II, self-determination got the most paramount expression. After World War I, self-determination was perceived to be a guiding principle to redraw the world to create a just order. After World War II, the United Nations Charter transformed self-determination into a legal right under international human rights law. The principle of self-determination is subtly integrated into Article I of the Charter of the United Nations. This principle was incorporated into the Dumbarton Oaks and 1941 Atlantic Charter proposals which developed into the United Nations Charter. The inclusion of this principle into the UN Charter manifested the universal acknowledgment of the principle fundamentally aimed to maintain peace and international relations. Therefore, self-determination is acknowledged in the international human rights law as a right to process pertaining to the people and not the government. Practically, this offered the justification and motivation for independence and sovereignty. Currently, self-determination is more attributed to the minority groups of a specific state to get better autonomy, mainly giving counter-reactions to authoritarianism or oppression. In the current world, globalization and transnational networks have significantly transformed the international system. This has changed self-determination dramatically. Society has changed embracing the rule of law and collective self-determination which undermines the right to individual self-determination
This paper argues that self-determination is getting more anachronistic despite the struggles made by international human rights law. It argues that the right to freely choose one’s political status, economic, cultural, and social development is significantly suppressed by the rule of law and political desires. It argues that the struggles to promote self-determination are not doing well because of the failure to balance the interdependence between individual self-determination and collective self-determination. The paper also argues that the international human rights law on the right to self-determination is mainly applied theoretically and not practically, thus making it anachronistic. This paper seeks to demonstrate the right to self-determination is increasingly getting out of place mostly due to political desires, practicing this right theoretically, and lack of cooperation between states and the United Nations human rights department. It also seeks to demonstrate how globalization and transnationalism have influenced the right to self-determination. Part one of this paper argues about the current reality of self-determination of peoples. It discusses the achievements and the failures of modern international human rights laws in promoting self-determination. Part two argues about the international context of the right to self-determination. This part discusses how the right to self-determination is applied in the global setting by the international human rights law. It also explains how globalization has aided the protection and promotion of self-determination. It discusses the way foreign human rights lobby states promote self-determination. Part three discusses global interdependence, technological globalization, and how they influence self-determination. Part four discusses the practical measures and approaches applied by international human rights law and states to promote self-determination. It also discusses the performance of these applications. Part five discusses the traditional ways of promoting self-determination that is available to indigenous peoples. Finally, part six discusses the reason why identity is valued and still preserved in the modern society. It also discusses the role played by identity in promoting self-determination.
The reality of the right to self-determination of peoples
Self-determination of people is a vital principle in modern international law that allows all people to exercise their right to make decisions choosing their own economic, social, and political order. Even though this principle has been integrated to be part of the fundamental norms which are crucial to protecting the international community’s core values, it is still constrained by legal uncertainties, with regard to its application, specifically in terms of identifying target groups of the corresponding right. Initiated as a legal principle structured in the post-World War II decolonization setting, it is considered to be the only motivation for the Asian and African independence in transforming the self-determination principle into an actual right that the people of the colonies will apply after the 1960 UN resolution. This principle was used and still is used against colonizing people. After the downfall of the Soviet Union, the meaning of the right to self-determination started to widen. The European Union failed to nominate the right of self-determination and upheld the rights of minorities which are the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities of 1995 and the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages of 1992. The international human rights law fails to acknowledge the notion that applying the right to self-determination is probable for a national minority since it is not regarded as a state’s population, but the current notion that exists is that the state itself acknowledges the right to self-determination of numerous constituent peoples. In this case, the constituent people are granted the right to practice their self-determination within the confinement of the set boundaries. However, in some instances, these rights are revoked. The people are controlled and limited to engaging in certain economic activities, political participation, and their social and cultural development. Annulment of fundamental rights acknowledged by both the national law and the international law favoring the constituent people might involve desecration of the right to self-determination.
There is a necessary interdependence between the right to individual self-determination and collective self-determination since it is merely illusory to claim that it has evocative control over political decisions governing our day-to-day lives in a political system significantly imposed by some external authority and controlled by it. This external authority is international law on human rights. This is the situation that the indigenous peoples across the world face. They have witnessed their collective ability for self-determination severely restricted, if not entirely eradicated as a result of colonization and contemporary globalization. The international law on human rights has failed to effectively play its role in protecting the people’s self-determination right. In terms of social development, it is evident that indigenous peoples lacking control, particularly over their administration as well as the healthcare services delivery, they receive poor services resulting in poor health outcomes. Evidence shows that when indigenous communities take more control over health, it may lead to better health.
The international context of the right to self-determination
The right of self-determination is still a vital norm raked to be very superior and acknowledged by the United Nations making it compulsory upheld on both national and international administrative and international cases and is certainly superior to all other national constitutions or laws which may be conflicting with it. In the global context, the right to self-determination is regarded as the capacity of the people to choose their political status and economic and social development. This entails the right to self-determination in external practices such as making decisions on unification or secession and also its internal practices, which include determining the level of participation in a state. In the international setting, the practice of the right to self-determination includes equivalent participation of the peoples in making decisions in a progressing dialogue whereby the parties make adjustments to their relationship for the sake of their mutual benefit. In essence, every country worldwide acknowledges and exercises the right to self-determination since it is an expression of human dignity as well as an empowering human right vital for the enjoyment of several other human rights at both individual and collective dimensions.
Every state is given the duty to ensure the right to self-determination is exercised, whereby its institutions have to respect the practice of this right by desisting from external interference and also actively enhance it, especially with regard to the peoples in its jurisdiction. Due to increased globalization and transnational networks, this duty has been significantly affected. States are currently giving in to external interference, which undermines the right to self-determination of the people. Globalization has presently increased due to technological advancements such as the availability of the internet and information-sharing platforms like social media. These technologies have increased the rate of sharing the information which tends to have a significant influence on states as they tend to emulate external ideas from other states. The internet has currently increased the rate at which information is shared, therefore making countries vulnerable to foreign interference. Transnational networks have also increased significantly and have been shown to interfere with states. For instance, non-governmental organizations currently are more involved in national matters and more involved in taking active participation in policy-making processes than people.
Within the international setting, the territorial integrity principle is placed under the General Assembly Resolutions 2625 and 3314, and the United Nations Charter (Article 2(4)) which is expanded to an external application. This provides that a state is prohibited from invading or encroaching on another state’s territorial integrity. International law prohibits invoking the territorial integrity principle internally and also its usage as an excuse to confine the human rights of the people with the jurisdiction of the state. According to international law, the people are acknowledged as the right holders of the right to self-determination and the state does not have the privilege to grant or deny this right. Due to the conflict between the human right to self-determination and the territorial integrity principle, international law recognizes the right to self-determination to prevail over territorial integrity.
In reality, most states restrict the right to self-determination due to the threat caused by nationalism to pluralism as well as individual rights. Globalization has stimulated this due to increased interaction and also the availability of transnational networks which exerts external pressure on individual rights. In essence, the right to self-determination is an anachronism associated with geopolitical as well as social risks allowing any cultural state to establish itself individually as a state. As a matter of fact, legal frameworks placing restrictions on things that can be decided limit the rigj k;;;nht to self-determination. Therefore, international law today has limited the right to self-determination to avoid the social risks that this right pose.
Globalization and self-determination
Due to the massive legal weight of self-determination and also its symbolic power for freedom, the term self-determination has been significantly used by leaders of minority indigenous groups in an attempt to exploit on international sympathies, trying to internationalize issues by connecting their circumstances to the international law. But the international community shuns such linkages often connecting demands for self-determination only with separatist tendencies. The international law grants political implications to reward every indigenous group an exclusive right to self-determination is currently subverting in a globalized world whereby boundaries overlap and races interact. Despite the efforts to create a peaceful society after World War I, the idea of creating an individual state for every country is impossible without experiencing violence and bloodshed. Instead, it has been determined that self-determination is a weighty term normally recognized to be closely associated with secession and therefore, it can be regarded to be extremely destructive. The states representative has shunned using these words together or even stress its negative implications. The procedure of international recognition by the United Nations provides another factor that limits independence due to classic self-determination. The process of international recognition limits the international role in providing political freedom with all states.
In both political philosophy and international law context, some modern self-determination claims have been placed on the in the proper governance regime as well as the international human rights setting. Several legal works of literature have suggested that the after colonialism right to self-determination no longer exists. However, this right can be reinforced by the modern legal instruments, but many political philosophers suggest that counteractive right to self-determination, causing secession whenever severe human rights abuses happen over time. Recently, debates have emerged attempting to degrade formal legal sovereignty from operational governance as well as full advantages of sovereign nationality in the international system that is dependent on a legitimate government. In these instances, legitimacy infers obedience to international values of human rights as well as the arising democratic governance standards. International human rights law has played a significant role in promoting self-determination by encouraging legitimate governance, which will uphold international human rights values. The international human rights law plays its part in promoting choice of political status, economic and social development by holding states responsible for its domestic constituents, and they can also be internationally responsible. The international human rights law has put strict measures to control states in ensuring that they encourage self-determination. According to the international human rights law, if a state fails to conform to these accountabilities justifies self-determination; claim in thrilling cases of secession or oppression might be justified. But in other cases, other solutions are sometimes used in satisfying desires of a certain group for alleviated autonomy in the form of self-governance, minority rights regimes, as well as asymmetric federalism at the same time, maintaining the established states and the international relations.
In essence, the full realization of self-determination by the international human rights as well as the acknowledgement of the current international boundaries signifies a dichotomy existing between the traditional view of the state-based global system in the course of Cold War and the rise of a new world order branded by globalization and also independence. States are increasingly overwhelmed by the pressure of transnational networks, alleviate personal mobility, economic interdependence and even real-time worldwide media. Contrary to the extensive supposition, the increasing globalization has not decreased the efforts that support self-determination and secession. Although admitting alleviated economic and also industrial interdependence, masses are also enthusiastic about retaining communal, socio-cultural norms and their local language. As a result, international human rights has noted this as a response to global interdependence and also globalization, that emanates from secessionists practices in marginalized areas. Response to globalization has also been observed to arise from enduring communal quest for better freedom from authorities. Increased global mobility, as well as interaction, also facilitates the role of international human rights in the efforts of ensuring self-determination. The reality that the indigenous groups are mostly the defenders of their rights triggers radicalization. Interdependence, as well as technological globalization, have helped the international human rights to instil self-determination by increasing the fame of leaders provoking the struggles for self-determination through the internet. Alternatively, during the post 9/11 period, central authorities have argued that self-determination movements are linked with organized crimes.
Practical applications of self-determination
As the 21st century began, new self-determination struggles arose worldwide while other conflicts continued relentlessly. The international human rights law has spearheaded the struggle for self-determination in all states. Every case has a unique background and development level. Mostly self-determination claims have various causes which include; leadership interests, historical grievances, economic control, and the struggle for sovereignty. The international response to allegations of self-determination led by the international human rights law also shows diversity, from dominance to careful manipulation and provocation outside power participation. Despite the efforts made by the international human rights to promote and protect self-determination, the international community still has the spirit for struggles for self-determination established before and in the course of Cold War, has hardly responded effectually or regularly to modern claims. It has also not acted on it in time or demonstrated sophisticated innovation. This proves that the group claims to self-determination is becoming more anachronistic.
Self-determination conflicts are hard to address in their integral mixture of three coinciding disputes over governance, identity and territory. The self-determination claimant group eloquent the significance of a shared identity, which is usually in terms of tribal, race or religious as the base of their claim. This view of discrete identity, and the aspiration to retain the identity, push the group to be politically active. This is to mean that a portion of the conflict is concerned about the uniqueness of the group to other communities, including the authorities and how this discrete identity should be active in the politics. More complication of self-determination claims is rooted in the linkage between the groups’ identity and the specific territory. In essence, a claim may arise from the issue of the territory’s entitlement based on religious significance, economic inspiration, historical grievances, or the quest to be free from external domination. In either case, the claims usually entail the aspiration to take full control over a piece of land or be in charge of distributing resources. This situation may involve secessionist, state-unifying claims, the pursuit to unite a group though breaking out, or sovereignty issues over natural resources. A self-determination claim usually originates from grievances that link identity with governance; for instance, economic or political discrimination targeted at a specific tribe, religion, ethnic group. In some self-determination tussles, financial challenges or alleged injustices have been persistent over a long time, imparting an intense struggle for the independence of the community. To effectively resolve self-determination claims, one has to resolve conflicts parting to the territory, identity and governance. The international human rights law has put some efforts but has only managed to resolve these issues partially. Especially in terms of governance, the long political processes have made it difficult for international human rights law to effectively address self-determination claims.
The international human rights law has extended its role to protect and address self-determination by collaborating with certain agencies of a particular affected region. For instance, the international human rights law has collaborated with the High Commissioner on National Minorities (HCNM), Europe’s Organization for Security and Cooperation demonstrates a positive approach to self-determination in the modern era. Started as a conflict prevention technique, the High Commissioner’s office resolves issues of the minorities in the state considering them as a possible threat to the state’s security as well as to the regional security. Instead of treating such cases under the classification of classical self-determination, the solution of the HCNM favour the integration of diversity as well as amassing participation within the present borders. As the HCNM seldom utilize the term self-determination with its de-colonization baggage, the focus in more than a decade of practically applying has been on amassing internal self-determination at the same time evading external self-determination. This is to mean that the HCNM resolves the issues using a double-edge conflict prevention approach.
To avoid internal conflict from the minority groups that are dissatisfied, HCNM applying the international human rights law promotes recognition of the minorities by encouraging dialogue and participation with the minority within the state, therefore resolving the issues of governance. This strategy centers on the identity of the group and the increment of internal self-determination. To avoid regional and probable international consequences associated with alteration in acknowledged international borders, HCNM prefers solutions which do not need boundaries to be redrawn, thus avoiding external self-determination through creative diffusion of territorial issues. HCNM’s practical approach significantly applies the international human rights law reflecting on the progressive trend in a modern understanding of self-determination; linking minority rights as well as participation with sustaining the territory’s integrity of the states to evade internal and external conflicts. This more comprehensive approach of accommodating minorities without altering borders appear in many forms outside HCNM’s jurisdiction, for instance, the United Nations Working Group on National Minorities, efforts to build peace like Kosovo.
Another practical solution shows hopes for satisfying the desires of the community seeking independence at the same time facilitating the state to progress with its existence in its sovereign territories is an integration of self-governance and regional integration, supplemented by accepting multiple identities and protection by the international human rights. This strategy resolves both aspirations of the group that makes the self-determination claim and the wider international security concerns of the superpowers who do not allow new states to be created within the international system. Rather than secession of territorial subdivision, based on the international human rights law, this strategy aims at maximizing the voice of a group in political, economic and social development issues without the need of redrawing international borders, therefore triggering a balance between territorial integrity and self-determination. The international human rights law resolves the underlying identity through the promotion of the groups’ identity in the context of multiple levels of identity, which include, local, national, state and supranational. This law pays attention to government issues via improved autonomy balances with extra-regional opportunities for mitigation of the territorial problems. Such traditional self-determination protects the community looking for autonomy at the same time, promising more economic benefits. Additionally, just as international human rights promotes, this strategy helps in avoiding the struggle for independence, which usually results in bloodshed and destruction.
The international human rights law has been applied to such practical solution attempting to promote self-determination while avoiding the probable destructive nature of self-determination through the increment of political engagement of the claimant group. Despite the international human rights law playing its role to support self-determination, states tend to support self-determination in theory, though they require more probability as to its use in practice. The United Nations discussion on the 1994 Draft Convention on Self-Determination Through Self-Administration recommended an approach that will make the process of resolving self-determination easy through defining a legal administrative process to the filing, debating and also adjudging claims. The international human rights law outlines that the key to address self-determination claims is by understanding and addressing several layers of conflict in methods that encourage the self-determination ideals and related territorial integrity and human rights values. This requires accounting for the emotional appeal of both national and local identity when evading oppressive political activities than provoke violence and instability.
The traditional way to self-determination
When indigenous peoples are permitted to govern themselves, they tend to exhibit remarkable ability to innovate in a culturally suitable and environmentally sensitive way. Self-determination has proved to be the most effective mechanism to address challenges that history, as well as modernity, have caused to indigenous peoples worldwide. Researchers relate significant self-determination with economic, cultural and social development in indigenous communities. Research has concluded that self-determination is just a policy that has had a positive impact on native poverty. The United Nations emphasized that one-size-fits-all designs for government flop due to their failure to consider various and complex local conditions into account. Self-determination is functional because of its nature of empowering communities to make decisive decisions on their own instead of external governments.
As the international human rights law strive to play its role of promoting and ensuring that the right to self-determination is achieved worldwide, it has endorsed some traditional ways to achieve self-determination. Some practical examples of traditional ways of self-determination that the international human right law has enacted include; the mobilization of Indian tribal women to attain reliable accessibility to water and therefore significantly enhance their lands’ productivity, improve their families’ health, and also improve the economy of their community. In northern Philippines Besao municipality, intense pressures have been adapted by the Kankanaey indigenous people by the extent of environmental degradation as well as development through adaptation to traditional regulations governing water use and management to manage the situation. Following their traditional beliefs, the indigenous people voluntarily conformed to the rules which required them to sacrifice to make sure that everybody has equal opportunity to access water resources since the Kankanaey has the traditional tools for managing their relations with other traditional communities as well as with their non-indigenous neighbors, the adherence to the rules extended beyond a given community.
In all countries with indigenous peoples, non-indigenous peoples have to face their history and admit their wrongs that the dominant community committed against the native population. Moreover, they have to learn about the legacy of the mistakes for the indigenous community and also for themselves. They need to make changes to their laws to make sure that indigenous peoples have the capacity of exercising their right to self-determination. They also have to learn the lesson which is sensible to KanKanaey; to make sacrifices in some of their advantages such that the indigenous peoples, through the practice of self-determination, can attain equivalent benefit. The international human rights law supports these traditional ways to self-determination but they tend to be limited by financial and human resources, and as well lacking control to make sure that their governance mechanism conforms to the international human rights norms.
Why identity is preserved in modern society
Social identity gives people a sense of belong to a particular community. A national, religious, class-based or ethnic identity determines an individual’s social identity as they tend to shape their identity. Social identity helps in identifying people, especially in this current globalized world. Social identity helps governments to identify people to determine their different needs that need to be addressed. The current political area suffers the most under the hesitancy and contradicting trends between multiculturalism and globalization and also between ethnic identity and localization, seeking monoculturalism with regards to countries and populations with same culture converging together in economic, cultural, social co-operations as well as strategic collaboration with other cultures. Various civilizations are mostly left out of these collaborative actions due to their differences. Identity is a significant social phenomenon which begins with the identity formation process through interaction with others or against others. An individual belonging to a specific identity has to learn and practice the norms and values of the society he dwells in, to provide his gain with his physical and psychological security. In order to get an identity, an individual has to identify himself with someone. In essence, an individual’s identity is constructed in a social dimension. Likewise, international recognition is constructed through social identity. Social identity is the pillar of self-determination. Therefore, social identity is preserved modern identity society so that states can determine and recognize individuals or groups based on their needs. Cultural identity also enables the United Nations to enforce the international human rights law on rights to self-determination to specific groups of people.
To sum up, international human rights law plays a critical role in promoting self-determination. The international human rights have played a significant role in promoting self-determination by encouraging legitimate governance, which will uphold international human rights values. This law acknowledges self-determination as a right to process on the people and not the government. There is a necessary interdependence between the right to individual self-determination and collective self-determination since it is merely illusory to claim that it has evocative control over political decisions governing our day-to-day lives in a political system significantly imposed by some external authority and controlled by it. The support of the international human rights law on self-determination offered justification and motivation for independence and sovereignty. Social identity has also significantly aided recognition of indigenous peoples be an opportunity to enjoy their right to self-determination. The United Nations depend on identity so as to enforce the right to self-determination to specific groups of people. Identity has been preserved in the modern society so as to differentiate different types of people and also to determine their various need. Therefore, based on national, cultural, ethic and social identities, it makes it easy to categorize people and also to determine their needs. The international human rights law has been applied to practical solution attempting to promote self-determination while avoiding the probable destructive nature of self-determination through the increment of political engagement of the claimant group.
But it is evident that the international human rights law fails to acknowledge the notion that applying the right to self-determination is probable for a national minority since it is not regarded as a state’s population, but the current idea that exists is that the state itself acknowledges the right to self-determination of numerous constituent peoples. Due to increased globalization and transnational networks, states are currently giving in to external interference, which undermines the right to self-determination of the peoples. The right to self-determination is limited by the states and the international human rights law due to the threat caused by nationalism to pluralism as well as individual rights. It turns out that secession seems to be slowly replacing self-determination. However, in the modern world characterized by increased globalization and transnational networks, self-determination remains to be more anachronistic. States have contributed to this because they tend to support self-determination in theory, but do not put it in practice. The states are uncooperative in making the practical implementation of self-determination. The current world political culture and government systems undermine self-determination, which makes self-determination to be more anachronistic.