Deserving of a Right to Decide?

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The term ‘self-determination’ can be defined as the ability of ‘peoples’ to determine their nation’s political status and the development of the countries’ needs. However, this right challenges the International Law of Territorial Integrity as ‘peoples’ are also given the right to decide the nation’s borders. It is a right that many are unable to experience. Can the freedom of human rights exist without self determination?


As by the common convention according to international governments, the majority overrules the minority. This causes a flaw in the implementation of self determination. An increase in globalisation has seen the rapid increase in migrants forming a group of minorities within a population.

The UN faces the problem of the implementation of laws that suits the majority, but defeats the principles of self determination. The term ‘peoples’ thus has to be extended to include every citizen residing within a nation regardless of their ethnic background. Non-citizen immigrants are generally succumb to a limited number of rights as per international law, which brings to question whether equality under self determination is attainable. Evidently, the global community faces the issue of providing an equal society for all.

Causing More Conflict than Progress?

Many controversies surround the topic of self determination such as the need to appease the needs of all citizens. Since the idea of national self determination has been legitimized, the world has seen a wave of nations wanting to gain independence due to differences in and achieve the right to self-determination. Yet the only notable success can be seen in Africa where Eritrea has gained De Facto Independence in 1991 according to documents published by the African Union.

The UN charter states that the problems surrounding self determination can only be solved through “developing friendly relations among nations…and to take other appropriate measures to strengthen universal peace.”

Benefits v. Conflict

Similarly to many policies, alongside conflict there are various benefits. The implementation of self-determination, as supported by the UN, could be a gateway to achieving more than just independance. The encouragement of tolerance that is gained through self-determination could be the basis of equality within societies. The delegate of South Sudan describes it as an “an excellent lesson for the international community.”

By Vanlee Trindade
Photo By Yeon Geong