Full Internal Self-government versus the Right to Self-determination. A few days ago, one of our readers asked a simple, straight-forward question. Could someone please explain what exactly was the difference between “full internal self-government” and the “right to self-determination”? I had been a speaker, with other lawyers, on the radio programme, “Territories Talk”. The other lawyers and I had consistently confused the two expressions. What exactly did they mean? I had hoped that someone more learned than me would have replied to the reader, and relieved him of his torment. Since none of the experts have ventured an explanation, I will have a go.
The right to self-determination is a right that every country enjoys. It is entrenched in United Nations’ conventions. There is no dispute about it. Even so reactionary a body as the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office would not deny us that right. They have repeatedly said to us that they will never stand in our way if we wish to become an independent nation. If we in
Suppose that we in
Full internal self-government is what our Chief Minister now says is
There is no connection between the two separate concepts of the right to self determination as guaranteed by the UN Convention and the state of full internal self-government. The one is a Convention right, the other is a state of affairs. In a young Constitution such as ours, we are justified in requiring that the details of government are spelled out to a degree not normal for the British. A wink and a nod are not sufficient. We are entitled to demand that our Constitution reflects in its language the peoples’ desire for increased self-determination. That is most appropriate if unnecessary disputes and disagreements are to be avoided in the future.
Do I personally believe we are ready for full internal self-government? I have my reservations. All such reservations can be overcome by inserting a level of checks and balances that will ensure that childish and petulant instincts do not prevail. Vindictive government is not limited to Hubert Hughes’ last regime! It is found in all immature governments. I remind my readers that self-government of any kind in
A greater concern is that our Government appears to have chosen this time to seek full internal self-government not because of any matter of principle. It has been rattled by the Concerned Citizens Group. This is but an example of what The Hon Edison Baird so accurately calls “ad-hoc planning”!
An even greater concern is that both “full internal self-government” and our “right to self-determination” can be used as mere empty political slogans. The expressions can amount to little more than smoke and mirrors in the wrong hands. The Constitutional and Electoral Reform Commission in its August 2006 Report managed to come up with a solid and extensive body of recommendations for full internal self-government as proposed by the people themselves and without once using any slogan. Now we are told that we have to go back to the drawing board and start thinking of “full internal self-government”!
Excuse me for being dubious about the whole exercise!