Kosovo’s independence from
The key to Kosovo’s
However, the legal framework that may enable self-determination and the practical situations connected therein must also be analyzed in depth to obtain a better understanding of the principle and its relevance to
The Right to Self Determination
Many groups that identify themselves as minorities have invoked the “right to self-determination” in their demands for autonomy or cessation. They have resorted to violence to pursue these aims. The international community may accept cessation if it guarantees to cease violence, however, in many cases, there is no such guarantee.
Self-determination and cessation are confusing concepts. The failure to define exactly who is entitled to claim a right to self-determination is unclear (whether it is a group, a people, or a nation—and what exactly the right confers).
Achieving self-determination through peaceful means has been accepted by the International Community with Kosovo being the case and point. But when self-determination has been achieved militarily, the international community has generally been reluctant to reverse the gain.
The claim has also been made that too much focus on self-determination can be dangerous. An over-generous acceptance of self-determination could lead to fragmentation and the rise of intolerance, because it would no longer be necessary to coexist peacefully.
Self-determination was officially recognized and sanctioned after 1945, in the United Nations Charter. However, this applied only to existing states and not to ethnic/national groups. It was accepted as a right after the 1960 UN Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Peoples, when applied for purposes of decolonization. Here also self-determination applied to territories and not to ethnic/national groups.
Measures taken after the 1970s to combine the ideas of minority rights and decolonization to justify self-determination as a right to independent statehood for every distinctive ethnic group was heavily criticized for helping to fuel violence characterizing various independence movements by ethnic groups. But some experts have argued for self-determination since they believe that groups held against their will in “artificial, arbitrary, and accidental” international state boundaries can be freed by it.
The emergence of such movements is based on Western ideas of democracy and human rights. But the west also insists on the inviolability of existing borders. The threat of self-determination movements must also be measured as a global threat when considering the fault lines that exist within large countries like
Recent studies indicate that the right to self-determination must be separated from the right to cessation and the establishment of independent statehood, with the understanding that there are intermediate categories short of statehood that can address a minority group’s interests and aspirations, such as power-sharing etc.
Human rights violations are easy to condemn but the dilemma is whether they justify a group’s cessation from the state. The very propagation of the idea of human rights intensifies demands for greater recognition among minority groups that invoke claims of human rights violations to support their demands for self-determination.In either case, Sri Lanka government must not underestimate the possibility of cessation, although remote it may seem. The present international Human Rights lobby against the state, the failure of the propaganda machine of the state to represent itself, the inability of the state to control embarrassing activities of profit-motivated sources within the state etc could all potentially increase the chances of cessation by the LTTE.
On the other hand, India's hands-off policy towards the government's multi-pronged assault on LTTE to destroy it militarily and politically through the reinforcement of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution indicate the International Community is not seriously interested in LTTE aspirations for cessation. The IC seems to have made way for the regional power to act on its own discretion in Sri Lanka and, unfortunately for the LTTE, the neighbour is under the influence of Sonia Gandhi, who may have a personal score to settle with the Tigers.