The rights of indigenous peoples and their fight for self-determination – Political Development in the Pacific

Abdulgaffar Peang-Meth

An estimated three hundred million (1) of the world’s six billion people are indigenous peoples who live in more than eighty-five countries in Asia, Africa, the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, and Oceania. (2) Each has its own language, culture, and belief system distinct from those of other indigenous peoples and the dominant people of the countries in which they live. Within the 189 sovereign independent states that are members of the United Nations, and a few more that are not members, there are more than six hundred language groups and five thousand ethnic groups that include indigenous peoples. According to Amnesty International, however, they “still face discrimination in almost every aspect of their lives and many are targeted for other grave human rights abuses.” (3)

Industrialization and the exploitation of resources have benefited some ethnic groups, dominant and nondominant, and harmed others, but it is the indigenous peoples who are generally disadvantaged in societies. Their lands, their forests, their resources have been incorporated in schemes of economic activity and in the name of development. Some ethnic groups are nearly forgotten; others emerge belatedly to demand that their rights be respected. An international movement has evolved to demand the right of self-determination on behalf of indigenous peoples. Who are indigenous peoples, what are their rights, and what is self-determination? There are no simple answers to those questions.

The United Nations was created in 1945 to “save succeeding generations from the scourge of war” and to “reaffirm faith in the fundamental human rights” (preamble), among other goals. Its primary purposes are to “maintain international peace and security” (Article 1.1) and to “develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples” (Article 1.2). (4) Unfortunately, the UN never defined precisely what it meant by the principle of self-determination of peoples. To the contrary, the United Nations is built on the principle of “the sovereign equality” of all nation-states. (5) International law and principles have viewed the territorial integrity of states as sacred.

In 1982, the United Nations Economic and Social Council, a principal organ of the UN whose functions include promoting respect for observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms for all (Article 62.2), instituted the Working Group on Indigenous Populations. Composed of independent human rights experts, the working group held its first annual session in August 1982 with only about thirty participants. By the 1990s the number of participants reached nearly a thousand delegates, representatives of governments, intergovernmental and nongovernmental organizations, and indigenous peoples.

Issues related to indigenous peoples have gained in importance and visibility. The year 1993 was proclaimed the International Year of the World’s Indigenous People. In that year, the working group completed the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, composed of forty-five draft articles. (6) It also proclaimed the International Decade of the World’s Indigenous People for the years 1995-2004. The UN Commission on Human Rights, which has authority to discuss human rights anywhere in the world, also created its own working group to examine the draft declaration before forwarding it to the UN General Assembly for debate and adoption.

Article 3 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples reads, “Indigenous 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.” (7) The statement on the “right of self-determination” was taken from the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, (8) adopted by the General Assembly in 1966 and put into force in 1976; and from the 1960 Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples (9) by the General Assembly. “All peoples have the right of self-determination,” the decolonization declaration and the rights covenants stipulate. Thus, self-determination, which originally was a principle of international relations and law, was accorded a legal basis as a right of peoples.


On 8 January 1918, U.S. President Woodrow Wilson delivered his Fourteen Points speech at a joint session of Congress. Until his address, the aims of the Western Allies in World War I were vague. President Wilson outlined the U.S. vision of the postwar world in terms that could not have been expected to win enthusiastic approval by the Allies. For example, his commitment to “open covenants … openly arrived at” was plainly contrary to the long history of secret negotiations and diplomacy, and the “absolutely impartial adjustment of all colonial claims” and “strict observance” of “the interests” of the local inhabitants were hardly appealing to European allies and major colonial powers. (10) But the points in his speech changed the face of world politics, helping the self-determination of peoples and equality of states to flourish.

Wilson believed that “the interests of the populations” of the territories conquered or defeated in World War I must not be left at the pleasure of the victors, and that territorial questions must consider those interests. He wanted

[a] free, open-minded, and absolutely impartial adjustment of all colonial

claims, based upon a strict observance of the principle that in determining

all such questions of sovereignty the interests of the populations

concerned must have equal weight with the equitable claims of the

government whose title is to be determined. (11)

Wilson advocated for an end to colonization and for consideration of the interests of the peoples in colonial territories–that “peoples and provinces must not be bartered about from sovereignty to sovereignty as if they were chattels or pawns in a game.” (12) He opposed the colonization of peoples and territories by victorious powers and sought to protect their rights. He called for the creation of the League of Nations “for the purpose of affording mutual guarantees of political independence and territorial integrity to great and small states alike.” Wilson’s principle of equality of states was clear-cut. However, the principle of self-determination that he proposed to include in the covenant of the League of Nations was never incorporated. (13) Counter to Wilson’s proposals, after World War I more colonies and colonized peoples were added to the list of territories of the victors. It was not until after World War II that the world experienced the process of the decolonization of nations.

From 25 April to 26 June 1945, representatives from fifty countries met in San Francisco to draft the Charter of the United Nations. When the charter was adopted on 26 June, the principle of self-determination (i.e., the right to decide one’s future by oneself or to rule one’s self without being ruled by others) was mentioned only twice. Article 1.2 mentions as a purpose of the UN, “To develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples.” Article 55, under “International Economic and Social Cooperation,” speaks of “the creation of conditions of stability and well-being which are necessary for peaceful and friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of people.” Although self-determination is mentioned, it is connected to the principles of “friendly relations” and “equal

rights” of peoples and to the purpose of maintaining international peace. (14) Self-determination appears to be a step toward achieving the ultimate goal of peace.

Article 73 of the charter, under the title “Declaration Regarding Non-Self-Governing Territories,” instructs administering authorities of territories and peoples who have “not yet attained a full measure of self-government” to recognize the “paramount … interests of the inhabitants . .. to develop self-government, to take due account of the political aspirations of the peoples.” (15) Thus, at the time of the drafting of the United Nations Charter, the principle of self-determination remained vague, and it never succeeded in becoming a rule of international law.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, (16) adopted and proclaimed by the UN General Assembly on 10 December 1948 “to set common standards of achievement in human rights for all peoples of all nations,” does not mention the principle of self-determination. However, its preamble speaks of the inherent dignity and the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family, as well as the necessity to develop “friendly relations between nations.”

It was not until a decade and a half after the United Nations came into existence that eighty-nine UN member states voted, on 14 December 1960, to adopt UN General Assembly Resolution 1514 (XV), making the principle of self-determination a right. Nine countries abstained (Portugal, Spain, Union of South Africa, United Kingdom, United States, Australia, Belgium, Dominican Republic, and France) and none voted against the resolution. That resolution, the “Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples,” declares that the “subjugation of peoples to alien subjugation, domination and exploitation constitutes a denial of fundamental human rights” and that “[a]ll 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.” (17)

The declaration “[s]olemnly proclaims the necessity of bringing to a speedy and unconditional end colonialism in all its forms and manifestations” and makes clear that the “[i]nadequacy of political, economic, social or educational preparedness should never serve as a pretext for delaying independence.” It continues, “All peoples have an inalienable right to complete freedom, the exercise of their sovereignty and the integrity of their national territory.” The declaration instructs states to undertake “[i]mmediate steps” to “transfer all powers to the peoples” in trust and non-self-governing territories or not yet independent territories “without any conditions or reservations … without any distinction as to race, creed or colour, in order to enable them to enjoy complete independence and freedom.” (18) In short, a great number of countries of the developing Third World demanded an immediate end to colonialism and no delay to independence of those territories and peoples still under the administration of major (Western) powers.


The question remains, Who are “all peoples” who have the right of self-determination? The source document, Articles 1.2 and 55 of the UN Charter, is not specific on the right of self-determination; Article 73 speaks specifically of self-government of non-self-governing territories. The 1960 decolonization declaration speaks of “peoples” in “Trust and Non-Self-Governing Territories or all other territories which have not yet attained independence,” who must be accorded “complete independence and freedom.” Those “peoples” are, therefore, colonized peoples who live in territories taken over and administered by foreign powers. The principle of self-determination was thus meant to apply to colonial (non-Western) peoples and countries under foreign (Western) domination.

The issue of self-determination becomes complicated, however, as peoples who claim to be indigenous peoples, who live on the national territory of a country dominated by another people, demand their right of self-determination. Some claim that their lands were taken away from them against their will by colonialists who brought settlers to inhabit and work on their lands. Whereas international declarations and covenants have transformed the principle of self-determination into a right, paragraph 6 of the decolonization declaration stipulates, “Any attempt aimed at the partial or total disruption of the national unity and territorial integrity of a country is incompatible with the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations.” (19) The paragraph upholds the principle of national unity and territorial integrity as one of the oldest accepted principles maintained by the international community. Although all peoples have the right of self-determination, to break up a national state in pursuit of that right is not permitted. By implication, secession is not an accepted principle in international law.

Although the right of self-determination is made applicable by international declarations and covenants to peoples and territories colonized by outside powers, reasonable people debate whether the right of self-determination (including complete independence from a national territory) is applicable outside the context of decolonization. Is the right of self-determination applicable to ethnic minorities and indigenous groups who live on territories that form part of a national territory of a state, as is the case with the U.S. offshore territories?

The 1970 Declaration on Principles of International Law Concerning Friendly Relations and Cooperation among States in Accordance with the Charter of the United Nations deals with the ill-defined issue of self-determination. (20) But it never clarifies nor solves the ambiguity of the issue. It supports what has been proclaimed and adopted by the international community by specifying that “[e]very State has the duty to promote … realization of the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples.” On the other hand, the “friendly relations” declaration also warns that

[n]othing in the foregoing paragraphs shall be construed as authorizing or

encouraging any action which would dismember or impair, totally or in part,

the territorial integrity or political unity of sovereign and independent

States conducting themselves in compliance with the principle of equal

rights and self-determination of peoples as described above and thus

possessed of a government representing the whole people belonging to the

territory without distinction as to race, creed or colour…. The

territorial integrity and political independence of the State are

inviolable. (21)

So the friendly relations declaration of 1970 did not clarify the vagueness found in the decolonization declaration of 1960 on the subjects of self-determination and the inviolability of national territory.

Although the right of self-determination of “all peoples” is talked about, in practice the principles of national unity and territorial integrity of states take precedence worldwide. States are the primary actors in international politics, and those that are able to defend their national unity and territorial integrity do so without compromise or hesitation. China would not let go of Tibet, and Russia is engaged in a violent struggle to maintain control of Chechnya. If states have accepted that the right of self-determination applies to all colonial peoples and territories, why are Tibetans and Chechens who are indigenous to Tibet and Chechnya and who claim to be neither Chinese nor Russian denied the same right? Because China and Russia claim Tibet and Chechnya, respectively, to be an integral part of the motherland.

After reviewing the different ways that the term “peoples” was used in the 1919-45 period that influenced the principle of self-determination, Hannum concluded that in the context of post-1945 decolonization, “the primary, and often sole, definition of `peoples’ was that of non-European inhabitants of former colonies.” (22) Thus, decolonization after World War II was a process of removing foreign (Western European) colonial powers from domination over (non-Western European) peoples of different ethnic origins outside of Europe, generally in the developing Third World.

After the adoption of the 1960 decolonization declaration, the UN General Assembly adopted another resolution in the same year, Resolution 1541, which highlights that non-self-governing territories and peoples that have “not yet attained a full measure of self-government,” as stated in Article 73 of the UN Charter, may reach that objective through independence, through free association with an independent state, or through integration with an independent state. (23) The right to self-determination is thus the right to self-government through those three options.

In 1946, eight administering powers (Australia, Belgium, Denmark, France, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States) listed seventy-two non-self-governing territories under their administration, down from over one hundred when the UN was instituted. Today, only sixteen non-self-governing territories remain, (24) and all of them are entitled to self-government by adopting one of the three options.

As statistics show, the majority of non-self-governing colonized countries expressed their choice for independence from colonial powers and became independent states after World War II. In Oceania, some dependencies have opted for complete independence from foreign administering authorities (for example, Fiji in 1970, Vanuatu in 1980), while others have opted for free association (for example, the Federated States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands, and Palau in the 1990s). (25) On the other hand, Macao and Hong Kong were integrated into China in the 1990s through treaties. Although no procedural requirements have been stipulated for a non-self-governing territory to become independent, free association status requires a “free and voluntary choice … through informed and democratic processes,” and integration with an independent state is attained with “full knowledge” through an impartial “universal adult suffrage” and on the basis of “complete equality” between the non-self-governing-peoples and the independent state with which they integrate. (26)

The Declaration on Friendly Relations considers as “modes of implementing the right” of a people to self-determination the following: “The establishment of a sovereign and independent State, the free association or integration with an independent State or the emergence into any other political status freely determined by a people constitute modes of implementing the right of self-determination by that people.” (27)


Although there is not one common definition of indigenous peoples acceptable to the different indigenous and nonindigenous peoples, a UN document defines it as follows:

Indigenous populations, communities, peoples and nations are those which,

having historical continuity with pre-invasion and pre-colonial societies

that developed on their territories, consider themselves distinct from

other sectors of the societies now prevailing in those territories, or

parts of them. They form at present non-dominant sectors of society and are

determined to preserve, further develop and transmit to future generations

their ancestral territories, and their ethnic identity, as the basis of

their continued existence as peoples, in accordance with their own cultural

patterns, social institutions and legal systems…. (28)

On an individual basis, an indigenous person is one who belongs to the indigenous populations through self-identification as indigenous (group consciousness) and through recognition and acceptance by those populations as one of the members (acceptance by the group). (29) An indigenous person is self-identified and considered by others in the society as sharing their ethnicity, culture, traditions, language, and system of belief, and his or her ancestry can be traced to precolonial times.

I must emphasize that because the term “indigenous peoples” refers only to peoples of “preinvasion” and “precolonial” times, all peoples who migrate later to the indigenous land are pre-empted from having the same rights and the same legitimacy as they. However, if legitimacy is derived from the depth of one’s family tree, why do the activist leaders of indigenous movements not require that indigenous group members be aboriginal? Perhaps that would cut off from power some of the leaders of the indigenous rights movement because they themselves may not be aboriginal. An aboriginal is a person who lives on territory that has been called indigenous land from the beginning of history. In any case, an indigenous people represents a nondominant group in society that is economically and politically under another distinct group’s control. In this condition they seek to preserve their ancestral lands and their race for succeeding generations.

Indigenous peoples, presumably, are referenced where “all peoples have the right of self-determination.” On the other hand, by definition an indigenous right precludes the rights of other minorities who have no ancestral line in the country. New arrivals are not indigenous. But do they not have the same right to self-determination?

The draft declaration on the rights of indigenous populations proclaims the indigenous peoples’ “right to the full and effective enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms” found in the UN Charter, the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and international human rights law. The indigenous peoples are “free and equal to all other individuals and peoples in dignity and rights,” and have “the right of self-determination.” The draft gives them “the collective and individual right not to be subjected to ethnocide and cultural genocide” and “to maintain and develop their distinct identities and characteristics.” In Article 27, the indigenous peoples have “the right to the restitution of the lands, territories and resources which they have traditionally owned or otherwise occupied or used, and which have been confiscated, occupied, used or damaged without their free and informed consent.” Article 31 stipulates, “as a specific form of exercising their right to self-determination,” that the indigenous peoples

have the right to autonomy or self-government in matters relating to their

internal and local affairs, including culture, religion, education,

information, media, health, housing, employment, social welfare, economic

activities, land and resources management, environment and entry by

non-members, as well as ways and means for financing these autonomous

functions. (30)

Article 37 instructs states to “take effective and appropriate measures, in consultation with the indigenous peoples concerned, to give full effect to the provisions of this Declaration.”

The most important characteristic of indigenous communities concerns their preinvasion and precolonial societies, and the most important characteristic of indigenous peoples logically concerns their premodern and preindustrial lifestyles, the traditions and culture they embrace, and the lands of their ancestors, all of which they want to preserve.

One of the most important aspects of indigenous peoples’ lifestyles concerns their relationship with the land where they live and where their beliefs, traditions, and culture thrive. In the words of Special Rapporteur Jose R. Martinez Cobo of the UN Economic and Social Council’s Sub-Commission on the Prevention of Discrimination and the Protection of Minorities, in reference to indigenous populations, “Between man and the land there was a relationship of a profoundly spiritual and even religious nature.” (31) For many indigenous peoples, their land is their life, their spirit, their existence. As such, whatever happens to their land touches the indigenous peoples profoundly. The invasion of the lands by outsiders is insupportable. (32)

The struggle of indigenous peoples to preserve their ethnic identity, language, culture, and lands gave birth to a worldwide indigenous rights movement. The evolution of this movement began as colonized peoples of the world struggled against white colonialism/imperialism before and after World War II. The concurrent postwar trend toward globalization and internationalism of the world economy tended to assimilate and integrate different cultures into new lifestyles that threatened to eclipse traditional ones. Fearing extinction, colonized peoples threw off colonial yokes and erected nationalist barriers to protect themselves and what was theirs in their nation or state.

In 1975 the World Council of Indigenous Peoples brought together indigenous movements and leaders from Canada, the United States, Australia, and New Zealand. In Geneva in 1981, the concept “Fourth World”–as opposed to the less developed Third World struggling for independence and development–was proposed at the International Non-Governmental Organizations Conference on Indigenous Peoples and the Land to refer to the world’s indigenous peoples. Pushing the World Council and giving rise to the concept of the Fourth World were “leaders of [indigenous] peoples whose countries were settled by European settlers, the descendants of whom now form the dominant group.” (33) For them, the struggle of indigenous peoples represents an international struggle against Western colonialism and its legacy.

The indigenous struggle was very much assisted by the widespread movement of the 1960s and 1970s to revive and preserve the cultural and ethnic identity of groups such as African Americans and the descendants of immigrants. If nationalism was reborn after the Second World War as a reaction to internationalism and globalization trends, ethnic and cultural reawakenings sought to block attempts at creating a world culture that threatened to marginalize or usurp the cultures of some five thousand ethnic groups. The leaders of the Fourth World who emerged in different regions share an aim to preserve ethnic identity, language, and culture, just as leaders of the Third World do. But Fourth World leaders see their trouble as caused by both the colonialists who took over their lands and the contemporary descendants of the colonialists. Indigenous peoples are oppressed aborigines who form a minority group on the lands of their ancestors.


Leaders of indigenous groups believe that because their ancestors lived on the land before it was taken over by colonialist/imperialist settlers or populated by immigrant descendants of the colonialist/imperialist settlers, the indigenous peoples should have special prerogatives or more rights on their lands than nonindigenous peoples. It is their natural right, they claim.

Fiji is a recent example among several in the contemporary world of conflicts between indigenous and nonindigenous peoples–in this case, ethnic Fijians and Fijians of Indian ethnicity. Fiji became an independent country in 1970 and consists of around three hundred islands in the South Pacific. (34) Some 832,000 people call Fiji home; 51 percent are ethnic Fijians and 46 percent ethnic Indians. The Indian Fijians are descendants of large numbers of Indian laborers imported by the colonial British to work on sugar plantations between 1879 and 1916. For years, land ownership and political power had been vested in the hands of the indigenous Fijians. In 1987, a parliamentary election brought the Indian political party to power, a factor that led to two coups d’etat by ethnic Fijians against ethnic Indians. In 2000, an ethnic Indian prime minister who was democratically elected was kept holed up with his cabinet ministers and Indian parliamentarians by Fijians who claimed to act on behalf of the indigenous people in Fiji. The coup maker wanted political power to return to ethnic Fijian hands. The multiracial constitution of Fiji was rewritten, specifically forbidding an ethnic Indian to be prime minister of the country.

Similar situations have occurred elsewhere in Oceania. Indigenous peoples in several areas in the Pacific have argued that because their ancestors have always inhabited the land, later immigrants cannot have the same rights to participate in political decisions regarding the land. (35) This leads to a consideration of the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination, adopted on 21 December 1965 by the UN General Assembly as annex to Resolution 2106 (XX). (36) The draft convention was prepared by the UN Commission on Human Rights, assisted by the Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities. In 1966 the convention was signed by seventy-two states, and 138 states have become parties. Article 1 of the convention states, “[T]he term `racial discrimination’ shall mean 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.” In Article 2, this convention “shall not apply to distinctions, exclusions, restrictions or preferences … between citizens and non-citizens.” (37)

The convention clearly brands ethnic Fijian attempts to abrogate ethnic Indians’ human rights and to eliminate Fiji’s multiracial constitution as “racial discrimination.” The ethnic Indian descendants of Indian laborers brought to Fiji a hundred years ago are citizens of Fiji as much as ethnic Fijians are. Likewise, efforts by indigenous rights groups to distinguish, exclude, or restrict nonindigenous peoples from the “exercise, on equal footing, of human rights and fundamental freedoms” such as voting in a plebiscite to determine the political status of a country in which all live, are racist, as they are based on “race, colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin.”

Indigenous rights advocates in Oceania have invoked “indigenousness,” measured by one’s having ancestral lines in the land from a certain period of time or being a descendant of the people inhabiting the land from a certain date, as the basis of the right to vote on political status, special privileges, or certain benefits. In Rice v. Cayetano, petitioner Rice, a Hawaiian citizen who does not have the required ancestry to be a “Hawaiian” under state law, sued the governor of Hawaii for excluding him from voting in the Office of Hawaiian Affairs trustee elections. In Hawaii, to be a “native Hawaiian” one must be a descendant of not less than one-half part of the races inhabiting the Hawaiin Islands before 1778, and a “Hawaiian,” a class that includes “native Hawaiian,” is defined as a descendant of people who inhabited the islands in 1778. Rice argued that excluding him from voting was contrary to the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution. The Supreme Court decided on 23 February 2000 that “National Government and the States may not deny or abridge the right to vote on account of race,” and “[t]he State’s ancestral inquiry is forbidden by the Fifteenth Amendment.” (38) A political status plebiscite for the Territory of Guam (which was ceded and became a territory of the United States in 1899 following the Spanish-American War) was scheduled for December 1999 but was postponed to 2002. (39) It was designed to be a “Chamorro-only” status election as an expression of Chamorro indigenous self-determination. The Chamorro-only political status self-determination vote was established by Guam Public Law 23-147, which limits voting in a publicly funded election to persons of Chamorro heritage and prohibits U.S. citizens of other racial and ethnic backgrounds from participating. The Chamorro-only vote, it would appear, does not conform to the U.S. Constitution as a result of precedent set by Rice v. Cayetano.

The Treaty of Paris, by which Spain ceded Guam to the United States in 1899, stipulates in Article 9 that “[t]he civil and political status of the native inhabitants of the territories hereby ceded to the United States shall be determined by the Congress.” Thus, the U.S. Congress, not the political activists, will decide the ultimate future of Guam within the U.S. constitutional system.


Richard Mulgan has asked: “[H]ow can one accept that only those individuals whose ancestors lived in a country before the arrival of a specific group of settlers–the European settlers–have roots in that country and consequently special rights?” Mulgan points out that the term “indigenous” has its beginnings in the European colonial enterprise, a product of the Age of Discovery that preceded the European colonial settlement, when European explorers reported anything they found in the rest of the world as indigenous and described what they introduced as foreign. In Mulgan’s reasoning, “It did not imply that anything found in these unfamiliar lands had been there for all time; nor did it imply that things newly introduced could not adapt and be regarded as indigenous in the future from other perspectives.” “And of course this is what has happened,” according to Mulgan. “Newer waves of immigrants” such as the Vietnamese boat people viewed the descendants of British settlers in Australia and New Zealand to be indigenous, just as the European explorers found the precolonial natives to be indigenous. To refer only to precolonial peoples as indigenous “freezes time at the point of settlement” and “implies that descendants of the colonial settlers can never legitimize their standing in the country, however long or benevolent it may become.” (40)

It appears that this is precisely what activists speaking on behalf of indigenous peoples claim: Newer arrivals cannot hope to claim the same legitimacy accorded to earlier arrivals. They forget history. A case in point is Cambodia: The Fu-nan were in areas later inhabited by the Khmer, whose empire stretched throughout nearly the entire southeast Asian mainland and who now claim they are indigenous. The peoples, including the Khmer, who later occupied much of Thailand, all of Cambodia and Laos, and half of Vietnam, all migrated from southern China.

Migrations of peoples are eternal. Along with people, cultures also move. In Asia, cultures and peoples of different areas intermingle all the time. Even the indigenous Hmong in Laos, the Khmer Loeu in northeastern Cambodia, and the Montagnards in Vietnam, cannot escape the arrival of different cultures. As foreign and indigenous cultures meet and intermingle, new lifestyles emerge. The 1960-70 movements against cultural assimilation resulted in the new multicultural trends that simultaneously recognize and co-opt unique ethnicities. As Goehring put it, “Most Indigenous Peoples, wherever they may live in the world, have now outwardly adopted many of the visible manifestations of the cultures of the colonizers. In many places today, Indigenous Peoples are, superficially at least, virtually indistinguishable from later arrivals.” (41)

It is interesting, then, to contemplate the definition of an indigenous person if that definition is based on the length of one’s ancestral line. At the same time that ethnicities have become social currency, the world has become a smaller place, and the physical, cultural, and ethical values common to one indigenous group have blurred as its members have intermarried outside of the group. A glance around the market in any city is likely ro bring into view numbers of people of blended heritage. Holding closely to the ancestral definition of “indigenousness,” then, could conceivably exclude a person of pure ethnicity who was a relative newcomer to his native land, but include another of blended heritage whose great-great-grandparents never took the risk of leaving home. Such is the reality of the world in which we live.


The term “self-determination” implies a right to chart one’s own course without interference from any external source. The term comes down to self-rule or self-government, which is a goal outlined in the UN Charter for all non-self-governing territories; states are to decide their destiny freely without interference by other states. Because it is people who govern the state, it follows that the people of that state must have self-determination, which is customarily identified with sovereignty and independence. When a state is independent and sovereign, both the people and the state become masters of their destiny.

To say that “all peoples have the right of self-determination” means that the entire citizenry of each state has the right to decide its affairs without external pressures or dictates. At the same time, every person within the whole population has human rights as outlined in the Covenants or the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Article 1 stipulates that “[a]ll human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” Article 2 reads, “Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.” (42)

Thus, all human beings should have equal rights, equal opportunities, and equal treatment. As a matter of popular sovereignty, a people, including ethnic minorities, have the right of self-determination, to decide on their future without outside interference. Since these principles are effected by the majority, it is likely that divisive indigenous advocates who seek to empower some at the expense of others would fade away. As Amnesty International said in March 2001 concerning ethnic Fijian attempts to eliminate the country’s 1997 multiracial constitution, “Human rights are internationally recognized as universal–they apply equally everywhere to everyone. Fiji needs to find a way of solving its problems in accordance with these international standards, recognizing that indigenous rights are equal–not superior–to other human rights.” (43) Later, Amnesty International declared, “Racism is a blatant attack on the very notion of basic human rights–that human rights belong to all people, equally…. Ethnic minorities are likely to face discrimination wherever they live.” The news release continued, “Around the world, foreigners, including migrant workers and asylum seekers, live in xenophobic environments….” (44) Amnesty International declared that racism

systematically denies certain people their full human rights just because

of their colour, race, ethnicity, descent (including caste) or national

origin. It is an assault on a fundamental principle underlying the

Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)–that human rights are

everyone’s birthright and apply to all without distinction. [Racism]

undermines all human rights, be they civil, political, economic, social or

cultural. (45)

The more sharply distinct ethnic groups and minorities are from dominant groups, the more they tend to suffer from political and economic inequalities. (46) Political and economic discriminations lead further to four general demands: for political autonomy, political rights other than autonomy, economic rights, and social and cultural rights. (47) Cultural differences add to political and economic inequalities. These lead to grievances and, in the decades of ethnic revival, to a natural desire for autonomy or independence.


Human beings are born free and equal “in dignity and rights.” Colonized peoples and territories are neither free nor equal to others. Not to be free and equal is a violation of the human rights of all peoples and contrary to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. However, when self-determination is interpreted in a narrow sense to validate the rights of individual subgroups to determine their own future irrespective of the needs of others (the majority) in the state in which they live, self-determination conflicts with another predominant international principle: national sovereignty.

Minorities within a state may be distinctive ethnically and culturally from the dominant group that governs society, but it is contrary to international law and practice for them to attempt to appropriate a nation’s territory unto themselves. This is secession. Although it must be said that indigenous rights movements would lose their momentum if the racism and discrimination described, for example, by Amnesty International were eliminated, the sovereignty that small ethnic minorities seek is actually not true sovereignty at all.

Self-determination, self-rule, or self-government means the existence of sovereignty. Westphalian sovereignty, developed after 1648, is absolute, comprehensive, permanent, and indivisible. Following the American Revolution of 1776 and the French Revolution of 1789, sovereignty that had been accorded to monarchs moved to the people. Popular sovereignty shifted to the nation state. To date, every state in the world embraces the principle of national sovereignty.

Stephen D. Krasner examines four different uses of the term “sovereignty.” (48) First, domestic sovereignty refers to effective organization and control within a state by the authority in power. This should be equivalent to internal sovereignty. In a democracy, the people control the government, and the government then is able to make and implement the law and administer its territory and inhabitants on its own. Many states have domestic sovereignty.

Another type of sovereignty is called interdependence sovereignty. This refers to the ability of public authorities to control transborder movements. Is the authority able to regulate the flow of goods, people, pollutants, diseases, ideas across its borders? Many states cannot perform this task; they do not have interdependence sovereignty. A third type is called international legal sovereignty, which refers to ability of a state to establish its status vis-a-vis other states and to be recognized and accepted by them. There are states that lack domestic and interdependence sovereignty but that have international legal sovereignty because other states grant them this status for various reasons.

Finally, there is Westphalian sovereignty, which includes two fundamental conditions: (a) a state has people and a government that exists within specific territories, and (b) the state’s public authority represents the only authority at the exclusion of all others. Westphalian sovereignty means being master of one’s own destiny, or having the ability to exercise external self-determination as well as internal self-determination free of outside interference.

Based on the Krasner model, not all states are independent and sovereign, but all states aspire to sovereignty over their territory and people. The bottom line is this: a state that does not possess Westphalian sovereignty is not really sovereign. Sovereignty is equivalent to self-rule, free of external influences. Sovereignty and self-determination are tied to statehood. To demand self-determination is to demand full independence and sovereignty for the state. Either a state rules over itself or it does not; either autonomy is complete or it is not; and either a state is master of its destiny or it is not.

According to Richard Mulgan, “Though we can talk readily of degrees of autonomy and devolution, there are no degrees of sovereign statehood. A people either has it or does not have it. Thus, the idea of `self-determination within a wider state’ or `self-determination under a wider law’ is in principle self-contradictory.” (49) Governments everywhere hesitate when demands for self-determination by minorities or ethnic groups threaten to break up the national territory and national unity. As principles and international law stipulate, the territorial integrity of states is inviolable.


The third UN secretary-general, U Thant of Burma, said in 1970 that the concept of self-determination was “not properly understood in many parts of the world.” (50) If it was misunderstood then it was because neither the term “self-determination” nor the term “peoples” was defined properly. For colonized peoples, self-determination means independence from the colonial authority. They understand the term correctly. For some ethnic minorities and indigenous peoples, self-determination takes on a different meaning: to become their own masters while on national territories already ruled by others. It means to them the right to proclaim independence and autonomy. It means secession. For U Thant, the term was misunderstood because in applying it, many brushed aside the international principles of territoriality and national unity of states, which represent the foundation of the international community. Secession has no place in international law, although the American Declaration of Independence insists that when a government becomes tyrannical the people do, as a matter of principle, have the right to secede. In the words of U Thant, the United Nations “has never accepted and does not accept and I do not believe it will ever accept the principle of secession of a part of its member state.” (51)

Man’s history is replete with incidents of conquerors overcoming and subjugating group cultures. Their beliefs, values, and practices have disappeared or adapted to new cultures and new ways and survived through some transformation and assimilation. Still others sought for a time to resist and to free themselves. The wish of human beings to determine their own fate is as old as human groupings.

But the idea that man has a right to self-determination is new. The English philosopher John Locke (1632-1704) argued that individuals have certain natural rights to exercise their rational faculties and to preserve themselves by making use of the earth that God has given to mankind in common. (52) But the natural rights to life, liberty, and property were never safe in the state of nature without institutions to settle disputes and enforce the law. Since a government could become tyrannical, men could resist tyranny by dissolving the government and forming a new one, or men could leave the political communities. (53)

But it was through the writings of French philosopher and social theorist Jean Jacques Rousseau (1712-78), and as an outcome of the French Revolution, that the concept of popular sovereignty was accepted. And the doctrine of national self-determination was introduced concurrent with the concept of state sovereignty that was assigned not to a monarch, but to the people. By the nineteenth century, following the rise of German nationalism, European “ethnonationalism” was also rising, pitching states against rights of nations. After World War I President Wilson advocated the doctrine of national self-determination.

Theories of national self-determination abound. (54) Among them are the liberal theories, which hold that it is the duty of governments to protect individuals. If they fail, individuals have the right to emigrate, resist, or secede. In the classical liberal theory, the “remedial theory” stipulates that the right of secession or national self-determination exists only if there are serious and persistent violations of human rights and no solution other than self-determination is available. (55) However, the right to freedom of association claims that any individual who wishes to leave the political community has the right to do so, irrespective of human rights violations. According to this theory, the right of groups to self-determination is recognized only if the group respects the individual human rights of members of the state. (56)

Democratic theories give priority to the will of the people and do not necessarily respect individual rights. Communitarian theories insist that membership in the political community is not a voluntary agreement and that the right to national self-determination is a community right. Realist theories as represented by Shehadi, who asserted the failure of the international community’s self-determination policy (57) say that the community must clarify the concept of right of self-determination, and that the concept must balance the principle of states’ territorial integrity with the aspirations of aggrieved nations.

According to Michael Freeman, “The concept of self-determination is both potent and paradoxical. It is attractive to many because it is associated with the values of democracy and national community. It is repellent to others because it is associated with ethno-nationalist fanaticism and anarchy.” (58) Freeman points out that international law is not what it seems. Although it is accepted that “[a]ll peoples have the right of self-determination,” Freeman quoted R. Emerson to strengthen his point: “[W]hat emerges beyond dispute is that all peoples do not have the right of self-determination. They have never had it, and they will never have it.” (59)

Mulgan brought up the examples of Zaire and Nigeria to illustrate the ambiguity of the principle of self-determination. (60) Leaders of both countries invoked the principle of self-determination to demand and receive political independence from Belgium and Great Britain, respectively. But then domestic groups, the Katanga and Biafra, emerged to demand their own self-determination. Wars ensued. As Mulgan put it, “African states are careful not to allow the principle of self-determination to undermine the integrity of existing states.” Again, in Freeman’s view:

If Bosnia-Herzegovina has the right to secede from Yugoslavia, do the

Bosnian-Serbs have the right to secede from Bosnia? If Lithuania had the

right to secede from the Soviet Union, does Chechnya have the right to

secede from the Russian Federation? If the French-speaking people of Quebec

have the right to determine their own political future, do the indigenous

peoples of Quebec have the same right? (61)


Self-determination is defined as the right to split from a national state, but in practice an aggrieved group has no hope to attain that right unless it is capable and prepared politically, economically, and militarily to fight for it. States and the international community of national states, backed by the international legal principle of inviolability of territoriality and national unity, are simply unwilling to accept minority or indigenous peoples’ demands for independence that would break up their territories and fragment the world system in which states remain primary actors.

Decolonization is not yet complete, (62) as there remain sixteen non-self-governing territories to be granted self-government through independence, free association with an independent state, or integration with an independent state. However, an association with an independent state does not cut a territory loose to become master of its own destiny. Hence, free association cannot be called self-determination or self-government since the state does not possess sovereignty, the most important characteristic of any state. A half-sovereign or quasi-sovereign state has not attained self-rule or self-determination. (63)

Leaders of indigenous peoples know that their campaigns to remove themselves from what they termed “colonization” in the United States and Canada, or Australia and New Zealand, will not materialize. The time for “decolonization,” in the sense of a Third World country’s setting itself free and becoming independent of a foreign power, is essentially over for precolonial peoples. The proclamation of “self-determination” within a larger state contradicts the concept of national sovereignty of states and is not self-determination. As Mulgan says, “Almost by definition … indigenous peoples cannot attain full independence but must find their future within a country where the descendants of the later arrivals are dominant.” Thus, “full self-determination, in the sense of complete independence from the dominating people and government, is simply not possible.” (64)

However, this does not mean that there is nothing that can be done to improve the lot of the descendants of the precolonial peoples. Instead of launching a struggle without genuine hope for successful independence, they can mobilize and increase their efforts, with the help of sympathetic people in the countries concerned, to improve their political rights without complete separation and autonomy–for example, by achieving greater participation in politics and decision-making at different levels. They can seek to attain more economic rights, including a greater share of public funds and services, greater economic opportunities, and more social and cultural rights, including recognition of language and culture or freedom of religious practices and the like. Since all these are considered universally recognized human rights, attention and energy would be well directed there.

Indigenous rights are not special rights or prerogatives of the descendants of the precolonial peoples. Indigenous rights are human rights. Indigenous peoples and governments in power over them need to work together to ensure equal rights, equal opportunity, and equal treatment. (65) It is the responsibility of the dominant people in control of the country to take measures to address the civil, political, and economic rights of all peoples on the land, indigenous and nonindigenous alike. When human rights for all are respected, political, economic, social, and cultural differences among societal members are diminished, grievances by ethnic groups are minimized, and harmony is within reach. It would appear, therefore, that Mulgan has it right in stating, “For those who accept the democratic tradition there can be no doubts: they must accept that the past is done. Some compensation for past wrongs may be necessary and desirable, but it is the present and the future that count, and the guiding principles for the present and the future must be justice and equality for all citizens. (66)


(1.) International Secretariat of Amnesty International, news release, 25 July 2001, ACT 40/025/2001, 116/01.

(2.) Elmer Brian Goehring, “Worlds within Worlds: The Separate Reality of the Indigenous Peoples Today,” in The New Third World, ed. Alfonso Gonzalez and Jim Norwine, 2nd ed. (Boulder: Westview, 1998), 114. Asia is home to some 80 percent of the world’s indigenous peoples, with over 60 percent living in China and India. Mongolia is the only Asian country where an indigenous people–the Mongols–form a majority of the population. In North and South America, the indigenous peoples “have now been reduced to the status of minorities in their former homelands.” Goehring, “Worlds within Worlds,” 115.

(3.) Amnesty International, news release, 25 July 2001.

(4.) See United Nations, Charter of the United Nations and Statute of the International Court of Justice, DPI/511-40265 (New York: Department of Public Information, April 1989), 1-87.

(5.) UN, Charter of the United Nations, Article 2.1, p. 4.

(6.) See draft declaration in Cynthia Price Cohen, ed., The Human Rights of Indigenous Peoples (Ardsley, NY: Transnational, 1998). Also see Hurst Hannum, Autonomy, Sovereignty, and Self-Determination: The Accommodation of Conflicting Rights, rev. ed. (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1996), 85-87.

(7.) Hannum, Autonomy, Sovereignty, and Self-Determination, 85.

(8.) See Ian Brownlie, ed., Basic Documents in International Law, 4th ed. (Oxford: Clarendon, 1995), 262-301. Article 1.1 of both covenants reads: “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” (264, 276). The economic, social and cultural rights covenant attracted 127 signatory parties and entered into force on 3 January 1976; the civil and political rights covenant attracted 125 signatory parties and entered into force on 23 March 1976. The covenants consider the UN Charter principles on the inherent dignity and the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family, deriving from the inherent dignity of the human person.

(9.) Brownlie, Basic Documents, 307-09. Note that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights stipulates in Article 1 that “[a]ll human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” It follows, therefore, that “[a]ll peoples have the right to self-determination,” necessarily including indigenous peoples.

(10.) Louis L. Snyder, Fifty Major Documents of the Twentieth Century (Princeton: D. Van Nostrand, 1955), 27.

(11.) Ibid.

(12.) As cited in Hannum, Autonomy, Sovereignty, and Self-Determination, 28.

(13.) Ibid., 32. The draft proposal reads: “The Contracting Powers unite in guaranteeing to each other political independence and territorial integrity but it is understood between them that such territorial adjustments, if any, as may in future become necessary by reason of changes in present racial and political relationships, pursuant to the principle of self-determination, and also such territorial adjustments as may in the judgement of three-fourths of the Delegates be demanded by the welfare and manifest of the peoples concerned, may be effected if agreeable to those peoples; and that territorial changes may in equity involve material compensation.”

(14.) UN, Charter of the United Nations, 3, 30.

(15.) Read chapter 11, “Declaration Regarding Non-Self-Governing Territories,” Article 73, Charter of the United Nations, 37-38.

(16.) See “Declaration” in Brownlie, Basic Documents, 255-61.

(17.) See “Declaration” in Brownlie, Basic Documents, 307-09.

(18.) Ibid.

(19.) Ibid. Note that the primary purpose of the UN is to “maintain international peace and security” (Article 1.1), and a major principle guiding the UN is the “principle of the sovereign equality of all its Members” (Article 2.1). In Article 2.4, “All Members shall refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state,” and Article 2.7 prohibits UN intervention “in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any state.” See Charter of the United Nations, 4-5.

(20.) General Assembly Resolution 2625, Annex, 25 UN GAOR, Supp. No. 28, UN Doc. A/5217 (1970) at 121, as cited in Hannum, Autonomy, Sovereignty, and Self-Determination, 34-35. This is completely in conformity with the purposes and principles of the United Nations. See Charter of the United Nations, chapter 1, “Purposes and Principles,” 3-5.

(21.) As cited in Hannum, Autonomy, Sovereignty, and Self-Determination, 35.

(22.) Hannum, Autonomy, Sovereignty, and Self-Determination, 36.

(23.) General Assembly Resolution 1541(XV), Annex, 15 December 1960, 15 UN GAOR, Supp. No. 14, UN Doc. A/4684 (1960) at 29 as cited in Hannum, Autonomy, Sovereignty, and Self-Determination, 39-40.

(24.) See UN, Basic Facts about the United Nations (New York: Department of Public Information, 1998), 278. On 30 August 1999, the people of East Timor voted for independence from Indonesia. The remaining sixteen non-self-governing territories include the following: in Africa, Western Sahara under the administering authority of Spain until 1976, when it terminated its responsibility; in Asia Pacific, American Samoa and Guam under the United States, New Caledonia under France, Pitcairn under the United Kingdom, and Tokelau under New Zealand; and in the Atlantic, the Caribbean, and the Mediterranean, Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Falkland Islands (Malvinas), Gibraltar, Montserrat, St. Helena, Turks, and Caicos Islands under the United Kingdom, and the U.S. Virgin Islands under the United States.

(25.) See Barrie MacDonald, “Decolonization and Beyond: The Framework for Post-Colonial Relations in Oceania,” The Journal of Pacific History 21, no. 3-4 (July-October 1986): 115-26. MacDonald concluded, “There is a shared dependency based on smallness, remoteness, limited resources and a shared (though varied) colonial experience. It is these conditions which have controlled, and will continue to control, post-colonial relationships within and beyond Oceania.”

(26.) Hannum, Autonomy, Sovereignty, and Self-Determination, 40.

(27.) Hannum, Autonomy, Sovereignty, and Self-Determination, 41.

(28.) United Nations Economic and Social Council, UN Sub-Commission on the Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities, Jose Martinez Coho, Study of the Problem of Discrimination Against Indigenous Populations, UN Doc. E/CN.4/Sub.2/1983/21/Add.8.

(29.) Ibid.

(30.) See Cohen, Human Rights of Indigenous Peoples, 377-87.

(31.) United Nations Economic and Social Council, Study of the Problem of Discrimination.

(32.) See Goehring, “Worlds within Worlds,” 113: “For many peoples who considered themselves indigenous to a particular territory, titled ownership to lands and resources was an entirely alien concept. To them the land just `was,’ and it was theirs…. To many Indigenous Peoples one could no more own the land, or parts thereof, than one could own the sky or the water.”

(33.) Richard Mulgan, “Should Indigenous Peoples Have Special Rights?” Orbis (summer 1989): 378.

(34.) 2001 New York Times Almanac, ed. John W. Wright (New York: Penguin Putnam, 2000), 562.

(35.) The Organization of People for Indigenous Rights, the Chamoru Nation, and the Republic of Guahan on Guam, a U.S. territory, embrace this philosophy.

(36.) See Brownlie, Basic Documents, 310-27.

(37.) See Brownlie, Basic Documents, 313.

(38.) Supreme Court of the United States, Rice v. Cayetano, Governor of Guam, Certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, No. 98-818, 23 February 2000. The Court found it “demean[ing] a person’s dignity and worth to be judged by ancestry instead of by his or her merit and essential qualities,” and that it is a “demeaning premise that citizens of a particular race are somehow more qualified than others to vote on certain matters.”

(39.) Guam was inhabited by the Chamorros from the Malay Peninsula since 1500 B.C. Ferdinand Magellan stopped on Guam in 1521 A.D. Guam was colonized by the Spanish beginning with Jesuit missionaries in 1668. By 1700, diseases and war had reduced the number of Chamorros from about fifty thousand to two thousand. In 1941, Japan took over Guam, then the Americans retook it 1944. Guam is an unincorporated territory but is ruled by an organic act approved by the U.S. Congress that provides for a republican form of government. Less than half of the 150,000 people on Guam are Chamorros, a large number of whom live in the U.S. mainland. The inhabitants of Guam are U.S. citizens.

(40.) Mulgan, “Should Indigenous Peoples Have Special Rights?” 380-81.

(41.) Goehring, “Worlds within Worlds,” 113.

(42.) See Brownlie, Basic Documents, 257.

(43.) See Pacific Daily News, 4 April 2001.

(44.) International Secretariat of Amnesty International, news release, 25 July 2001, ACT 40/025/2001, 116/01.

(45.) Amnesty International, news release.

(46.) Ted Robert Gurr, Minority at Risk: A Global View of Ethnopolitical Conflicts (Washington, DC: United States Institute of Peace Press, 1993), 38. Gurr’s “cultural differentials” that make a group feel different from others include six cultural traits: ethnicity or nationality, language, religion, social customs, historical origin, and urban versus rural residence. Gurr’s “political differentials” include access to positions of political power, access to civil service positions, recruitment to military and police service, voting rights, right to organized political activity, and right to equal legal protection. “Economic differentials” include inequalities in income, land, and other property, access to higher education, presence in commercial activities, in professions, and in official positions. See 40-41.

(47.) Gurr, Minority at Risk, 70-72.

(48.) Stephen D. Krasner, Sovereignty: Organized Hypocrisy (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1999), 3-25.

(49.) Mulgan, “Should Indigenous Peoples Have Special Rights?” 383.

(50.) L. C. Buchheit, Secession: The Legitimacy of Self-Determination (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1978), 87, as cited in Michael Freeman, “Democracy and Dynamite: The Peoples’ Right to Self-Determination,” Political Studies 49 (1996): 746.

(51.) As quoted in Stephen Ryan, The United Nations and International Politics (New York: St. Martin’s, 2000), 78.

(52.) See John Locke, Two Treatises of Government, ed. Peter Laslett, 2nd ed. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1967).

(53.) Read John Locke, “Of the State of Nature,” “Of the Beginning of Political Societies,” and “Of the Dissolution of Government,” in Robert Brown, Classical Political Theories: From Plato to Marx (New York: Macmillan, 1990), 271-75 and 285-302.

(54.) Michael Freeman, “The Right to National Self-Determination: Ethical Problems and Practical Solutions,” in The Rights of Nations: Nations and Nationalism in a Changing World, ed. Desmond M. Clarke and Charles Jones (New York: St. Martin’s, 1999), 45-64.

(55.) A. H. Birch, “Another Liberal Theory of Secession,” Political Studies 32, no. 4, (1984): 596-602, reprinted in Clarke and Jones, The Rights of Nations, 53.

(56.) H. Beran, “A Liberal Theory of Secession,” Political Studies 32, no. 1 (1984): 21-31, in Clarke and Jones, The Rights of Nations, 54. To this argument, Buchheit responded that a right to secession granted other than in exceptional circumstances would break up the states system into many small states.

(57.) K. S. Shehadi, Ethnic Self-Determination and the Break-up of States (London: Brassey’s, 1993), in Clarke and Jones, The Rights of Nations, 59.

(58.) Michael Freeman, “Democracy and Dynamite,” 746-47.

(59.) R. Emerson, “Self-determination in the Era of Decolonization,” Occasional Papers in International Affairs 9 (1964): 64, cited in Buchheit, Secession, 129.

(60.) Mulgan, “Should Indigenous Peoples Have Special Rights?” 382.

(61.) Ibid.

(62.) MacDonald, “Decolonization and Beyond,” 115.

(63.) E. Robert Statham, Jr., “The Freely Associated States of Micronesia: Pragmatism vs. Principle in U.S. Foreign Policy,” Asian Culture Quarterly 27, no. 3-4 (autumn/winter 1999): 27-42.

(64.) Mulgan, “Should Indigenous Peoples Have Special Rights?” 387.

(65.) Goehring condensed indigenous desires and demands into three basic requests: (a) a secure and tenured land base; (b) the desire for a viable and culturally relevant economy; (c) the right to a measure of political self-determination as distinct peoples. Goehring concluded, “There are a host of decisions to be made by Indigenous Peoples today between seemingly irreconcilable opposites that must somehow be reconciled…. The alien economy and its legion metaphysical supports have intruded upon all aspects of all traditional Indigenous lifeworlds.” See Goehring, “Worlds within Worlds,” 121.

(66.) Mulgan, “Should Indigenous Peoples Have Special Rights?” 388.

Abdulgaffar Peang-Meth is a professor in the Political Science Program at the University of Guam.

COPYRIGHT 2002 Heldref Publications

COPYRIGHT 2002 Gale Group

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