The Right of Self-Determination: A Time for Reinvention and Renewal

  • Nihal Jayawickrama

Abstract

If the sixteenth century generated an awareness of the diverse nature of the human race; if the seventeenth century ushered in the revival of art and literature; if the eighteenth century was the age of new ideas, of reason and individualism; if the nineteenth century gave birth to modern science and technology; then the twentieth century will surely be remembered for the conquest of space, the emergence of Madonna, and, not least, for the universal recognition of human rights and fundamental freedoms. In fact, it was the mid-twentieth century that witnessed the beginnings of an international concern for the protection of human rights. Now, barely forty years later, an elaborate regime of international human rights law exists, with multilateral treaties that define the content of human rights, and international institutions to which individuals have recourse against the acts and omissions of their own governments.

Keywords

Migration Europe Sine Settling Nigeria 

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Notes

  1. 2.
    United Nations, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, GA Res. 217A (III) 3, UN GAOR, Suppl. No. 13, UN Doc. A/810 (1948), at 71, Article 14 recognizes the right of every person to seek, and to enjoy, in countries other than his own, asylum from persecution. Under the Draft Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, UNGA Res. 429 (V), 5 UN GAOR, Suppl. (no. 20), (1950), Article 2, any person who, “owing to well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion”, has left his own country and entered another, and is either unable or unwilling, owing to such fear, to return to his country, may not be penalized on account of his illegal entry or presence in that country, nor may he be returned to the frontiers of his own country.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    United Nations, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 6 ILM 368 (1967). Under the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, 5 ILM 352 (1966), “any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin which has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life” constitutes discrimination and is, subject to limited exceptions, prohibited. Two conventions adopted by specialized agencies, ILO Convention No. 111: Discrimination in respect of Employment and Occupation (1960), and UNESCO Convention Against Discrimination in Education (1960), seek to outlaw discrimination on ethnic grounds in respect of equality of opportunity or treatment in employment or occupation, and in education.Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    United Nations, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, supra, note 3, Article 27.Google Scholar
  4. 5.
    United Nations, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, supra, note 3, Article 1; United Nations: International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, 6 ILM 360 (1967).Google Scholar
  5. 6.
    United Nations, Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, GA Res. 1514 (XV), 15 UN GAOR, Suppl. (no. 16), UN Doc. A/4684 (1960) 66; GA Res. 2160 (XXI), UN GAOR, (1965).Google Scholar
  6. 7.
    See Helsinki Act, The Final Act of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, principle VII, Helsinki, 1975, reprinted in I. Brownlie, Basic Documents on Human Rights, 2nd edn (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1981), at 320: by virtue of the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, all peoples always have the right, in full freedom, to determine when and as they wish, their internal and external political status, without external interference, and to pursue as they wish their political, economic, social and cultural development.Google Scholar
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  8. 9.
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  10. 15.
    These, according to the special rapporteur of the Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities, are the elements of a definition of the word “peoples” which have emerged from discussions on the subject at the United Nations. A. Cristescu, The Right To Self-Determination: Historical and Current Development on the Basis of United Nations Instruments (New York: United Nations, UN Doc. E/CN.4/Sub.2/404/Rev 1.1981), para. 279.Google Scholar
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    Sir Charles Jeffries, Ceylon — The Path to Independence (London: Pall Mall Press, 1962), at 115.Google Scholar
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    The Constitution of the Federal Party of Ceylon, as cited in H. A. Peries, Political Parties in Sri Lanka Since Independence: A Bibliography (New Delhi: Navrang, 1988), at 146.Google Scholar
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    Mrs Sirima R. D. Bandaranaike MP, Prime Minister, as quoted in The Ceylon Daily News, 16 July 1970.Google Scholar
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    Convention between China and Great Britain respecting an Extension of Hong Kong Territory, Peking, 9 June 1898, TS 1898 No. 16, c. 9087; CTS No. 186, at 310; De Martens, 2 XXXII, 89.Google Scholar
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    For a fuller discussion of this subject, see N. Jayawickrama, “Hong Kong: The Gathering Storm”, Bulletin of Peace Proposals, 22 (2): at 157–74 (1991).Google Scholar
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    Western Sahara, supra, note 13, at 81.Google Scholar
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    Ibid., at 71.Google Scholar
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    Justice M. D. Kirby, “Population Transfer and the Right to Self-Determination: Differences and Agreement”, Paper presented to the International Conference on the Human Rights Dimensions of Population Transfer, 10–14 January 1992 (unpublished). Kirby states “the people of Hong Kong … will be handed over to a geriatric autocracy without an act of self-determination in the last great colonial abdication of perfidious Albion”.Google Scholar
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    Countdown to 1997: Report of a Mission to Hong Kong (Geneva: International Commission of Jurists, 1992), at 56.Google Scholar

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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1996

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  • Nihal Jayawickrama

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