Recognizing the Right of Self-Determination

With the representatives of the Palestinian territory pressuring the United Nations for full recognition, questions have been raised about the future of Israel. Some argue that U.N. recognition of a Palestinian State will cause the demise of Israel. However, 127 U.N. members already recognize the State of Palestine as an independent nation.

Few people are even asking, or answering, why a nation must be represented at the U.N. Switzerland, best known for its neutrality, was not a full member of the U.N. until September 10, 2002. I seriously doubt anyone questioned the independence of Switzerland before the nation became full member of the U.N.

In 1998, Christian Hillgruber, of the European Journal of International Law, wrote, “Recognition of a new state is an act that confers a status; as a result of recognition, the recognized entity acquires the legal status of a state under International law. In this sense, a (new) state is not born, but chosen as a subject of international law. Only when the new state has been recognized does it become a subject of international law, and this initially only with respect to the existing states recognizing it. On admission as a member of the United Nations, the new state then becomes part of the globally organized community of states by way of co-optation. After the decision has been taken to admit a state to the United Nations, its statehood cannot be called into question with the effect of contesting the validity of mutual rights and obligations arising from co-membership.”

I wonder if some people are “worried” that recognition of the State of Palestine would lead to the recognition of Kosovo’s independence. Maybe more nations will recognize the independence of Abkhazia, Nagorno-Karabakh, Somaliland, South Ossetia, Transnistria, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, and/or Western Sahara. Maybe people (i.e. government representatives) fear recognizing the right of self-determination; that is the right of “determination by the people of a territorial unit of their own future political status.” Though there are no established guidelines regarding how a group of people exercise their right of self-determination. During the 1860’s several States attempted to leave the United States of America, several counties in these States took secession one step further and seceded from their seceding State. It was this act of self-determination that allowed West Virginia to become a State, it also led to several “Free State’s” throughout the Confederacy.

The United States of America was founded on the principles of self-determination. Not only has the U.S. government violated the self-determination rights of the Native Americans, but also the people of Hawai’i, Guam, Puerto Rico and many other people who have become dependent on the U.S. government, but it now violates the right of self-determination of people over whom it has no recognized authority (i.e. Palestine).