“States have the obligation to negotiate independece referemdums” Turp says

News / 13.4.13

Daniel Turp, Professor of International Law at the Faculty of Law of the Université de Montréal, delivered a speech entititled “Self-determination and Right to Decide in the 21st Century” during a dinner-debate organised by CMC in Meran, South Tyrol.

He claims that based on the principle of the right of peoples to self-determination as recognized in international law and the principle of democracy, which is common to many constitutions, modern XXI century states confonted with internal independence movements have the obligation to negotiate the terms of opt out referenda.

International law «gives peoples a true “right to choose” and provide them with a collective right to be exercised ultimately by the people themselves». While «It is always important to remember that the right should not necessarily lead to national independence”  and may well take the form of an integration to another state […] to obtain greater autonomy or human rights, individual and collective, for the people within the State.  it is also important to note that the assertion of the right to self-determination is accompanied of the imposition of an obligation on the part of States».

Thus, States parties to the Covenant(s) on human rights « shall promote the realization of the right of self-determination, and shall respect that right, in conformity with the provisions of the United Nations Charter ».

Having studies in depth the 1998 Canada constitutional courtadvisory opinion rendered following the “Reference on Secession of Quebec” he believes that many of the law principles invoked could be of transposed to many European states «As regards the principle of federalism, could it not be invokedby Flanders for example to establish its right to right to choose, Are there no grounds for the Basque,Catalan and Galician peoples to establish their “right to decide” under the similar principle of autonomy.And ultimately, in their quest for self-determination, all thepeoples of Europe could remind governmentsof their States that their right to choose is based on the democratic principle and that the exercise of this right has a corollary the obligation to negotiate».

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You can download his full intervention (German-French-English) in our papers’ section

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Watch a prior intervention on the same topic in our vimeo channel