The question of self-determination or secession is as much
a legal issue as it is a political one. Certain debates under way
in Europe reveal how contentious this question can be. However,
other European examples also show that such issues can be dealt
with more calmly.
In the light of the complex and highly politicised nature
of the legal issues at hand, and the very diverse nature of the
relevant, practical situations, the Committee on Legal Affairs and
Human Rights felt that it was impossible for it to assume the role
of arbitrator and to define universally applicable, generic guidelines.
The committee therefore decided to present an information report,
outlining the applicable principles of public international law, without
taking sides vis-à-vis the aspirations of the various parties involved
for or against independence. Numerous representative (though not
exhaustive) examples illustrate the report.
In this report, the committee underlines the need to settle
these matters through peaceful and democratic dialogue that respects
the rule of law and human rights (including the rights of national
minorities) between the region concerned and the government of the
State of which it forms part.