Right to Self-Determination

Topics: Human rights / Pages: 9 (2058 words) / Published: Oct 15th, 2008
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, self-determination is the right or ability of a country or a person to manage their own affairs. Even though there are more than 208 nation states, there are still a number of people struggling for their rights towards self-determination. The United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights clearly states in Article 15 that everyone has the right to a nationality and no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality or denied the right to change his nationality. But what are the criteria of identity for a ‘people’? Is it essential identity or contingent identity that make a people? In this essay I am going to analyze the methods towards self-determination, who has rights to self-determination, stages of self-determination, self-determination beyond nation states and the notion of self-determination as a right. There are two ways of attaining self-determination; pacifism or violence. To be a pacifist is to oppose all forms of war or violence as a means of settling a dispute or gaining advantage. For instance, Mahatma Gandhi who refused to use violence to oppose the foreigners is a common example of a pacifist. Aung San Suu Kyi, a non-violent pro-democracy activist and leader of the National League for Democracy in Myannmar was awarded Nobel Peace Prize for her peaceful and non-violent struggle under a repressive military dictatorship. Later on, she was put under house arrest but even though she was allowed freedom if she fled the country, she refused. Up till now, Aung San Suu Kyi is still under house arrest and is currently on a starvation protest. Violence is another way to self-determination. Instrumental violence, meaning violence with an end and subject to moral constraints of just warfare is one of the most morally defensible methods used for self-determination. Well-known examples of this are when the European states and the United States were acquiring empires around the globe during the nineteenth


Bibliography: Ishay, MR (ed.) 2007, The Human Rights Reader,4th edn, Routledge, London. Kolodziej, E A 1995, Dilemmas of Self-Determination, Arms Control, Disarmament & International Security, University of Illinois, Available from: [2 September 2008] Mohamad, M 2008, Affirmative Action, Chedet.com, Available from: [2 September 2008] Miscevic, N 2005, Nationalism, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Available from: [2 September 2008] Stanford Computer Science 2007, The History of Apartheid in South Africa, Stanford University Computer Science Department, Available from: < http://www-cs-students.stanford.edu/~cale/cs201/apartheid.hist.html/> [2 September 2008]

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