What is National Self-determination?
National self-determination is when people as a whole try to gain, or keep the power to control their own affairs. Every nation believes it is their collective interest to ideas and decisions to what will benefit them. There are many examples of National self-determination.

One is that of Yugoslavia. In the 1990s Kosovo broke away from Yugoslavia, becoming Serbia.There was a lot of violence between the two groups of the Kosovar Christians, and the Muslim Albanians. These two groups have had many years of conflict between the two. The conflict between the two groups became so violent that the United Nations sent NATO troops to adminster the province. The UN was still under control when Kosovo decleared independence. The Albanian Kosovars had celebrated that great achivement while members of the Serbian minority feared losing their rights, culture, and traditional way of life dating back to the 14th century.

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Self-Determination in 1918

As the World War 1 was coming to an end in 1918, The American President Woodrow Wilson supported what he called the "Free self-determination of Nations." He hoped that this princple would lead to lasting peace in Europe. Unfortunally his principle did not seem to last because not even twenty years later a second World War had began.

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The concept of self-determination did not apply to everyone. Yugoslavia was one that didn't get the notice. Yugoslavia had been a part of the Ottoman Empire or the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

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Self-Determination and Nation-States
An American historian Lousis L.Snyder had believed that the desire for self-determination underpins the right of a person to freely choose how they will be governed. He had also acknowledged that just as the idea of self-determination can unify people, and tare them a part as well. Self-determination helps a nation see themselves as "unique and indivisble." This uniquness is not always believed by all if their interests or goals are supported.

So who has the right to self-determination?
This is reflected in the charter of the United Nations.
One of the UN's purposes is "to develop friendly realations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, and to take other approprirate measures to strengthen universal peace."

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Side Note:
What about the countries not in the UN ?

  • All Nation-states the belong to the UN are supposed to have "sovereign equality."
  • The UN leaves the unanswered question of what happens when people winthin nation-states want self-determination
  • The International Court of Justice, which has been part of the UN since 1945, says " the right to self-determination is held by peoples as well as by governments."
  • That means that the principle of the sovereignty of a nation state can sometimes conflict with a person's right to self-determination.
An example:
Kosovo's Declaration of independence.
To countries such as China and Russia it was viewed as a threat to Serbia's intergrity and status as a nation-state.

Soon after Kosovo had declared independence UN Security Council held a series of emergency sessions to discuss the "problem." Vitaly Churkin, Russian Ambassador, urged the Council to declare Kosovo's independence "null and void." On April 1, UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon said that UN forces will remain in Kosovo until said so. This means that the independence was not accepted by the UN. Individual member states such as Britain, France, Germany, Canada, U.S.A, and others had recognized the area as an independent country.

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