Pakistan’s Resolution on “the Right of the Peoples to Self-determination” Adopted at UNGA

UN General Assembly adopts by consensus Self-determination denotes the legal right of people to decide their own destiny in the international order.  Self-determination is a core principle of international law, arising from customary international law, but also recognized as a general principle of law, and enshrined in a number of international treaties.  For instance, self-determination is protected in the United Nations Charter and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights as a right of “all peoples.”

The scope and purpose of the principle of self-determination have evolved significantly in the 20th century.  In the early 1900s, international support grew for the right of all people to self-determination.  This led to successful secessionist movements during and after WWI, and WWII and laid the groundwork for decolonization in the 1960s.

Contemporary notions of self-determination usually distinguish between “internal” and “external” self-determination, suggesting that “self-determination” exists on a spectrum.  Internal self-determination may refer to various political and social rights; by contrast, external self-determination refers to full legal independence/secession for the given ‘people’ from the larger politico-legal state.

The concept was first expressed in the 1860s and spread rapidly thereafter. During and after World War I, the principle was encouraged by both Soviet Premier Vladimir Lenin and United States President Woodrow Wilson.[5][6] Having announced his Fourteen Points on 8 January 1918, on 11 February 1918 Wilson stated: “National aspirations must be respected; people may now be dominated and governed only by their own consent. ‘Self-determination’ is not a mere phrase; it is an imperative principle of action.”

During World War II, the principle was included in the Atlantic Charter, declared on 14 August 1941, by Franklin D. Roosevelt, President of the United States, and Winston Churchill, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, who pledged The Eight Principal points of the Charter. It was recognized as an international legal right after it was explicitly listed as a right in the UN Charter.

Since the early 1990s, the legitimatization of the principle of national self-determination has led to an increase in the number of conflicts within states, as sub-groups seek greater self-determination and full secession, and as their conflicts for leadership within groups and with other groups and with the dominant state become violent. The international reaction to these new movements has been uneven and often dictated more by politics than principle. The 2000 United Nations Millennium Declaration failed to deal with these new demands, mentioning only “the right to self-determination of peoples which remain under colonial domination and foreign occupation.”

The United Nations General Assembly has adopted a Pakistan-sponsored resolution on “Universal Realization of the Right of the People to Self-determination”. 72 countries from across the world co-sponsored this important resolution which was adopted by consensus.

The resolution reaffirms unequivocal support for the realization of the right to self-determination for peoples under foreign occupation, colonial domination, and subjugation. It firmly opposes acts of foreign occupation, intervention, and aggression, and calls upon responsible States to immediately cease such acts.

Pakistan has been sponsoring this flagship resolution since 1970. This annual initiative serves to draw international attention towards the plight and rights of people living in internationally recognized situations of foreign occupation, including in India’s Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir and in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

Adoption of this resolution is a reaffirmation of the inalienable right of occupied peoples to self-determination, as enshrined in international law, the UN Charter, and numerous UN resolutions.

Pakistan is a proactive member of the international community and plays a vital role in international affairs. Pakistan always stood with the oppressed and raised voices for weaker ones. Its stance is very clear and against any oppression, invasion, war, or interference in other’s domestic issues. It believes in equality, non-discrimination, and justice, human rights, etc. Its role is to lead any peace efforts or the welfare of humankind.

Pakistan will keep supporting Kashmir and Palestine under the charter of the UN and urged the international community to implement the UN resolutions in later and spirit immediately. It will keep on its diplomatic and political advocacy for the oppressed in Kashmir and Palestine. India and Israel must be brought to justice according to international law and the UN charter, against their crimes against humanity.

Prof. Engr. Zamir Ahmed Awan
Prof. Engr. Zamir Ahmed Awan
Prof. Engr. Zamir Ahmed Awan, Sinologist (ex-Diplomat), Non-Resident Fellow of CCG (Center for China and Globalization), National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST), Islamabad, Pakistan.