Saturday, August 22, 2009
Self-determination is defined as free choice of one’s own acts without external compulsion; and especially as the freedom of the people of a given territory to determine their own political status or independence from their current state. In other words, it is the right of the people to decide how they want to be governed without the influence of any other country.
The revolt of the British colonists in North America has been defined as the first assertion of the right of national and democratic self-determination because of the explicit invocation of natural law, the natural rights of man and consent of, and sovereignty by, the people, ideas inspired particularly by John Locke’s writings. Thomas Jefferson furthered promoted the notion that the will of the people was supreme, especially through authorship of the Declaration of Independence which inspired Europeans throughout the 19th century.
During the early 1800s most of the nations of South America achieved independence from Spain.
When the Bolsheviks came to power in Russia in November 1917, they supported the right of all nations, including colonies, to self-determination. As early as 1914 Lenin wrote: “It would be wrong to interpret the right to self-determination as meaning anything but the right to existence as a separate state.” The 1918 Constitution of the Soviet Union acknowledged the right of secession for its constituent republics.
The Treaty of Brest-Litovsk in March 1918 led to Russia's exit from the war and the independence of Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Ukraine, Lithuania and Poland.
The end of the war led to the dissolution of the defeated Austro-Hungarian Empire and the creation by the Allies of Czechoslovakia and the union of the State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs and the Kingdom of Serbia as new states.
During the 1920s and 1930s there were some successful movements for self-determination in the beginnings of the process of decolonization. In the Statute of Westminster Great Britain granted independence to Canada, New Zealand, Newfoundland, the Irish Free State, the Commonwealth of Australia, and the Union of South Africa after the British parliament declared itself as incapable of passing laws over them without their consent. Egypt, Afghanistan and Iraq also achieved independence from Britain and Lebanon from France.
The ratification of the United Nations Charter in 1945 at then end of World War II placed the right of self-determination into the framework of international law and diplomacy.
Chapter 1, Article 1, part 2 states that purpose of the UN Charter is: “To develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, and to take other appropriate measures to strengthen universal peace."
Article 1 in both the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). Both read: “All peoples have the right of self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.”
Self-determination challenges the principle of territorial integrity (or sovereignty) of states because it is the will of the people that makes a state legitimate. This implies a people should be free to choose their own state and its territorial boundaries.
In order to accommodate demands for minority rights and avoid secession and the creation of a separate new state, many states decentralize or devolve greater decision-making power to new or existing subunits or even autonomous areas.
From Kaliningrad to: Vilnius -350 km. , Riga -390 km., Warsaw -400 km., Minsk -550km., Berlin -600 km. Stockholm -650 km, Tallinn -650 km., Kopenhagen -680 km., Oslo -850 km., Kiev -850 km.,Moscow- 1245 km.
Posted by Rustam Vasiliev