Self-determination: Towards a broader concept?

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Title: Self-determination: Towards a broader concept?
Author: Paukkunen, Sini
Contributor: University of Helsinki, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Political Science
Date: 2003-06-19
Language: en
Thesis level: Licentiate thesis
Abstract: The concept of self-determination essentially involves the idea of a people controlling their own collective political destiny. The real break-through of the concept in the scene of international relations took place within the framework of the United Nations in the 1960's and 1970's. In the context of liberation of colonial territories the relevant declarations stated that all peoples have the right to self-determination. However, still today the concept of self-determination remains rather poorly defined in International Relations. On one hand it is an affirmed principle or right of international law guaranteeing ex-European colonies the right to independence. On the other hand, the concept can be seen as the inspiration of many secessionist movements. The thesis examines the concept of self-determination, including its past evolution as well as present developments and interpretations. The analysis of the concept of self-determination is carried out as an intermediate step, with the purpose of developing a theoretical framework for the empirical research of two concrete cases, Western Sahara and South Sudan, at the PhD stage.The research problem concentrates around the substance, practical relevance and the consequences of self-determination. The central research hypothesis is that the concept of self-determination needs to emerge towards a broader, more innovative and accomodating concept. That is, from independence and secession-oriented rhetorique towards a recognition that also alternative arrangements and political solutions are needed in the operationalization of self-determination. The method used is critical analysis. It is asked where the examination of the concept of self-determination takes us at the moment. The theoretical framework the conceptual analysis is normative international relations theory. While acknowledging the potential added value of various theories, the choice of normative theory is justified by the inherently normative nature of the concept of self-determination. The point of departure is that self-determination is a human right. The research material consists primarily of existing academic research as well as of a variety of selected United Nations documentation on self-determination. Due to the interdisciplinary nature of the research -between International Relations and International Law, particularly human rights- research material is exploited from both disciplines. The analysis carried out has shown that the concept of self-determination consists of different aspects and normative capacities and is capable of a multitude of contributions. The concept is under constant evolution. It is demonstrated that there has been a shift in focus of the implementation prescriptions of the concept towards internal solutions. The conclusion of the research is that the present concept of self-determination, as renewed and constantly re-interpreted, can be considered flexible and inclusive. More emphasis is being diverted towards human rights and democracy aspects which, in fact, constitute the core essence of the concept of self-determination.
Description: Endast sammandrag. Inbundna avhandlingar kan sökas i Helka-databasen ( Elektroniska kopior av avhandlingar finns antingen öppet på nätet eller endast tillgängliga i bibliotekets avhandlingsterminaler.Only abstract. Paper copies of master’s theses are listed in the Helka database ( Electronic copies of master’s theses are either available as open access or only on thesis terminals in the Helsinki University Library.Vain tiivistelmä. Sidottujen gradujen saatavuuden voit tarkistaa Helka-tietokannasta ( Digitaaliset gradut voivat olla luettavissa avoimesti verkossa tai rajoitetusti kirjaston opinnäytekioskeilla.
Subject: self-determination
normative theory
human rights

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