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Word Count: 1,779
The concept of self-determination is closely identified with even the earliest thinking on liberalism and nationalism it being the right or aspiration of a group which considers itself to have a separate and distinct identity to govern itself and to determine the political and legal status of the territory it occupies Implicit in both the US Declaration of Independence 1776 and the French Declaration of the Rights of Man 1789 was the notion that peoples have a right to determine their own political destiny It was however only at the end of the First World War and as a result of the impact of Wilsonian liberalism that the term came to be generally associated with the right of political independence for nations Since this period of idealism in international politics the competing claims to national self-determination have posed serious problems for the stability and peaceful maintenance of the states-system and thus for the international constitutional legal system It will be argued throughout this essay that the means provided for addressing these competing claims are inadequate In making this argument a look will be taken at the development of self-determination as a right in the post-1945 era of the UN Charter More importantly international laws need to reconcile this right with the fundamental norm of territorial integrity will be posited as the main restriction to its adequately addressing competing claims In the post-war international constitutional legal system the first significant mention of self-determination comes in the UN Charter itself - Article 12 declares one of the principles of the organization to be to develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principles of equal rights and self-determination It is correct to argue as Shaw does that mere statement of a political aim in the Charter does not infer the automatic creation of a legal right However in the light of statements made in subsequent resolutions covenants acts and judgments it would seem that
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