5 Elements Of The Right To Self-determination Under International Law

The right to self-determination is an individual and collective right of a people to “freely determine . . . political status and [to]freely pursue . . . economic, social and cultural development.” The right to self-determination is also a fundamental principle of human rights law. A people oppressed by a government have the right to feel safe and freely pursue their social and cultural development.

The principle of self-determination is generally linked to the de-colonization process that took place after the promulgation of the United Nations Charter of 1945. The obligation to respect the principle of self-determination is a prominent feature of the Charter, appearing, inter alia, in both Preamble to the Charter and in Article 1.

The International Court of Justice refers to the right to self-determination as a right held by a people rather than a right held by governments alone. The two important United Nations studies on the right to self-determination set out factors of a people that give rise to their possession of the right to self-determination, these factors being:

If a people meet all these elements they legally having the right to self-determination under international law.

The 5 Elements

History Of Independence Or Self-Rule

Identifiable Territory

Distinct Culture

Capability To Self-Govern

Will For Independence

Alternative Element - Victims of Human Rights Violations

There is an addition element that may also be used by a people to obtain the right to self-determination. If a people do not have one or all of the elements listed above, but are the victims of human rights violations, then they may also demand the right to self-determination under international law.


Victims Of Human Right Violations