First International Conference on the Right to Self-Determination and the United Nations

Geneva, 14 August 2000/P/RE/16880c-is

In a resolution adopted unanimously at the conclusion of the First International Conference on the Right to Self-Determination and the United Nations, the participants called for the establishment of an Office of High Commissioner for Self-Determination and for a UN Self-Determination Commission consisting of representatives of UN member states.

The conference was jointly sponsored by the International Human Rights Association of American Minorities (IHRAAM) and by the International Council on Human Rights (ICHR). Both of them are non-governmental organizations enjoying consultative status with the United Nations (ECOSOC). The proclaimed goal of the conference was to propagate the recognition of a universal right to self-determination in the body of modern international law -- in particular in the United Nations system -- and to work closely with the UN Commission on Human Rights and the Sub-Commission on the Protection of Minorities. The conference organizers defined their mission within the framework of the promotion of international democracy and human rights comprising not only individual but collective rights. Appr. 100 representatives of indigenous peoples, national minorities, and  human rights organizations from all continents participated in the three-day conference in Geneva (11-13 August 2000).

The conference was opened by Professor Y. N. Kly, Chairman of IHRAAM, and by Barrister Majid Tramboo, Executive Director of the ICHR. The keynote addresses on the role of the United Nations in implementing the peoples' right of self-determination were given by Ms. Erica Daes, longtime Chairperson of the United Nations Working Group on Indigenous Populations, and Ms. Karen Parker, Attorney-at-Law and advisor to the Humanitarian Law Project at the United Nations.

In his keynote address on Self-Determination as a Means of Democratization of  the United Nations and the International System, the President of the International Progress Organization, Dr. Hans Koechler, dealt with the lack of democratic legitimacy of the present United Nations Organization and with obstacles to the exercise of the right of self-determination in the legal framework of the UN that is still based on the concept of the nation-state. Professor Koechler called for a peoples-, not state-centered international system and explained the need for the definition of a new paradigm of international relations that does away with the étatist concept of exclusive state sovereignty. Only such a system, he explained, will be compatible with the basic requirements of democracy and human rights.

The proceedings of the conference will be published by Clarity Press, Inc. (USA). The participants recommended the convening of an expanded Second International Conference in one year's time and the convening of regional conferences.