Sep 15, 2006

Self-Determination in International Law

From 29 September until 1 October 2006, the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO), in collaboration with the Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation (KKF) and the Hawai’i Institute for Human Rights (HIHR), organised a Symposium on “The Right to Self-Determination in International Law,” in The Hague, the Netherlands. The Symposium heard from international panels comprised of a broad range of academic experts, human rights activists, as well as leading practitioners of the right to self-determination.

(Photography by Florine Visser)



Friday 29 September 2006           

Session I: A New Perspective on International Law

Chair: Mr. Göran Hansson, Chairperson UNPO General Assembly





H.E. Judge Abdul G. Koroma, Judge, International Court of Justice,
“The International Court of Justice (ICJ):  A Legacy of Peace and Justice”

(full presentation)


Prof. Rodolfo Stavenhagen, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous peoples


Mr. Marino Busdachin, General Secretary UNPO
“Putting Self-Determination on the Agenda”
(full presentation)

Mr. To Kim Thong, Chairman KKF

Mr. Joshua Cooper, Director, Hawai’i Institute for Human Rights
“The Khmer-Krom case & Self-determination, Decolonization, and Human Rights and its History and Crime: Recommendations”

Ms.  Franci Taylor, Lecturer Leiden University,
“The Right to Self-determination and Preserving the Identity and Culture of Indigenous Peoples”

Mr. Thach Ngoc Thach, President, Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation

Saturday 30 September 2006

Session II: International Human Rights & Justice Mechanisms

Chair: Mr. Marco Perduca

2.1 The Right of Self-Determination in International Human Rights Law Machinery

Dr. Catherine Brölmann, Professor University of Amsterdam
“Challenges and Opportunities for Indigenous People & their Quest for Self-determination in International Human Rights Law Machinery”

Ms. Anna Batalla, Consultant, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
“The Right to Self-determination – ICCPR and the Jurisprudence of the Human Rights Committee” 
(full presentation)

2.2 The International Criminal Court (ICC) & Models of Justice

Ms. Cecilia Nilsson Kleffner, Legal Advisor and Head of The Hague office of the Coalition for the International Criminal Court (CICC),
“Concept and Reality: The ICC Thus Far”

Dr. Niccolò Figà-Talamanca, Programme Director, No Peace Without Justice,
“The ICC - A Positive Mechanism for Prevention of Human Rights Abuses and Promotion of Accountability?” 



Prof. Dr. G. G. J. Knoops, Professor, University Utrecht,
“Truth and Reconciliation Commission Models and International Tribunals: A Comparison”
(full presentation)

Ms. Alison Smith, Program Director, No Peace Without Justice,
“Models for Building a Society of Peace: Truth and Reconciliation Commissions Experience”

Session III: Models of Self-Determination 

Chair: Mr. Joshua Cooper

3.1 Indigenous Good Governance Models of Self-Determination: Autonomy in Action

Mr. Johan Mikkel Sara, Vice-President, Sámi Parliament,
“Indigenous Governance Models of Self-Determination: The Sami model and the Sami Parliament”
(full presentation)



Mr. Aqqaluk Lynge, President, Inuit Circumpolar Council (Greenland), Member UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues,
“Autonomy in Action: Inuit and the Case of Greenland” 
(full presentation)

Mr. Jake Swamp, Chief, Mohawk Nation,
“Self-Determination and the Indigenous Perspective”  

3.2 The UN Decolonization Committee: A Process of Steps toward Self-Determination 




Mr. Marco Perduca, Member, General Council of the Transnational Radical Party and UNPO Foundation, 
“Can We Get Out of the ‘Self-determination Trap'?”(full presentation)

Mr. Pedro Pinto Leite, Secretary General, International Platform of Jurists for East Timor,
“Three cases of self-determination, three stages of solution: East Timor, Western Sahara and West Papua



Dr. Eduardo Welsh, Editor, Former UNPO Programme Director,
“Decolonization: The UN Process within the Broader Movement. Its Legacy, Contemporary Relevance and Ways Forward”(full presentation)

Sunday 1 October 2006  

Session IV: Closing

Mr. Thach Thach, President, Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation

Mr. To Kim Thong, Chairman, KKF

Mr. Marino Busdachin, General Secretary UNPO

Adoption of Declaration drafted by a Working Group comprised of:

Rodolfo Stavenhagen                              Marco Perduca

Marino Busdachin                                  To Kim Thong       

Joshua Cooper                                       Thach Thach

Eduardo Welsh                                      Giap Tran




Symposium on the Right to Self-determination in International Law


29 September – 1 October 2006

The Hague, the Netherlands




Bearing in mind the positive development of the adoption of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, including its Article 3, by the Human Rights Council;


The participants of The Hague Symposium underline that the principle and fundamental right to self-determination of all peoples, as enshrined in the UN Charter, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and as firmly established in International Law, should be enjoyed universally without any distinctions.


The increasing recognition of cultural and national diversity and identities is linked to a better understanding of self-determination in all its aspects and is essential to the promotion of justice, peace and freedom worldwide. Without this realisation, self-determination may continue to generate false expectations and illusions that can lead a just cause into an unnecessary and dangerous “trap”.


The development of the right to self-determination and its feasible and possible applications is closely linked to the full participatory democratic processes, respect of rule of law and the bill of rights.


In International Law, the right to self-determination has only been taken into consideration as the external right to self-determination in a few defined and insufficient cases, such as the decolonisation process, disintegration of federative states, and ending of a military occupation of one state by another state.


The right to self-determination can now start to be considered as “in conformity with principles of International Law, as it develops”. This opens up a process to revise the entire matter from a different perspective and in a broader context, taking into account the increasing acknowledgement of interdependence around the globe.


Indigenous peoples must no longer be discriminated against in relation to other peoples or nations. In the absence of universal rules and their consequent applications, a just and fair solution has to be found for each specific and particular case.


Participants at the Symposium call upon;


the United Nations General Assembly  to adopt the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples;


the United Nations to reconsider and revise the principles and procedures related to sovereignty and self-determination and establish an ad-hoc committee with the main duty to deal with issues of implementation and practical consequences of self-determination in new situations that arise after the decolonization process;


Intergovernmental and Regional Organisations to guarantee the indigenous peoples and minorities participation with observer status;


National Parliaments to endorse and adopt a resolution to enlarge and improve the equalisation of human, civil and political rights of indigenous peoples and minorities, to call upon the International Organisations for the equalisation of rights in an international law system of guarantees; and


National and Regional Parliaments to allow for hearing procedures with peoples concerned with a view to adopting and endorsing resolutions.


Click here for post-event press release


Click here for more pictures