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Analyzing The Concept Of Right To Self-Determination In International Law

Shivam Sethi, Department of Law, Maharaja Agrasen Institute of Management Studies


Self-determination refers to "the right claimed by a 'people' to control their destiny.” The right to self-determination is considered as one of the most important principles of international law. It is also yet most contentious principle of international law. The right is a powerful slogan and the most valid justification for providing independence to many people, to which the independence of colonial people is the most significant. The main question which arises is that how can international law recognized right of an entity which by itself admit that it lacks existence. This would raise concerns with respect to the statehood, its acquirement and recognition. Statehood in itself is an ambiguous term and international law doesn’t have any definition of the term statehood which is universally accepted. Self-determination includes two conflicting elements which are equally fundamental and in fact imperative in international law. The first component is in relation to sovereign equality, territorial integrity and non-intervention. The second element deals with the very essence of the right to self-determination in the first place, which consists of namely the idea that people have a right to govern themselves.The right to self-determination is a legal right under public international law and human rights law, although its exact scope is not clear and vague. It is not possible in near future that it ever will be given the political nature of the right. The first complicated barrier is the two conflicting faces of the right to self-determination. The second problem concerning this right is namely the dichotomy that seems to exist, a sort of North-South division. Ultimately, there is inconsistency in State practice and the application of the right to self-determination due to its ambiguous and political nature.

Key Words: Ambiguous, Self Determination, International Law, Legal Right


Indian Journal of Law and Legal Research

Abbreviation: IJLLR

ISSN: 2582-8878


Accessibility: Open Access

License: Creative Commons 4.0

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​All research articles published in The Indian Journal of Law and Legal Research are fully open access. i.e. immediately freely available to read, download and share. Articles are published under the terms of a Creative Commons license which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the authors. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the IJLLR or its members. The designations employed in this publication and the presentation of material therein do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the IJLLR.

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