Yes, yes and yes.
The right to self-determination is a universal and intrinsic human right. Governments govern by the consent of the governed. If the people wish to change the state under which they consent to live then it is their decision, and their decision alone, to change it according to their own needs and desires.
Legal institutions, chapters and constitutions the World over recognise and guarantee this right.
Southern Sudan’s referendum for independence (official result: 7th February 2011) is just a recent example of self-determination decided by the peaceful and democratic will of the people.
Here is an abbreviated list of just some of the legal documents guaranteeing the intrinsic human right to self-determination:
Constitution of the Republic of South Africa
Chapter 14. Section 235.
Recognises and Guarantees
“… the right of self-determination of any community sharing a common cultural and language heritage, within a territorial entity in the Republic …”
- The Cape fulfils all of the necessary criteria to achieve self-determination (independence).
United Nations Charter 1945
Chapter I: Purposes and Principles
The Purposes of the United Nations are:
2. To develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, and to take other appropriate measures to strengthen universal peace;
Self Determination: Principle & The Law
Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples
Adopted by the UN General Assembly
Resolution 1514 (XV), 14 December 1960
2. All peoples have the right to self-determination; by virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.
5. Immediate steps shall be taken, in Trust and Non-Self-Governing Territories or all other territories which have not yet attained independence, to transfer all powers to the peoples of those territories, without any conditions or reservations, in accordance with their freely expressed will and desire, without any distinction as to race, creed or colour, in order to enable them to enjoy complete independence and freedom.
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
G.A. res. 2200A (XXI), 21 U.N. GAOR Supp. (No. 16) at 52, U.N. Doc. A/6316 (1966), 999 U.N.T.S. 171, entered into force Mar. 23, 1976.
1. All peoples have the right of self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.
2. All peoples may, for their own ends, freely dispose of their natural wealth and resources without prejudice to any obligations arising out of international economic co-operation, based upon the principle of mutual benefit, and international law. In no case may a people be deprived of its own means of subsistence.
3. The States Parties to the present Covenant, including those having responsibility for the administration of Non-Self-Governing and Trust Territories, shall promote the realization of the right of self-determination, and shall respect that right, in conformity with the provisions of the Charter of the United Nations
African Union (OAU)
African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights
1. All peoples shall have the right to existence. They shall have the unquestionable and inalienable right to self- determination. They shall freely determine their political status and shall pursue their economic and social development according to the policy they have freely chosen.
2. Colonized or oppressed peoples shall have the right to free themselves from the bonds of domination by resorting to any means recognized by the international community.
3. All peoples shall have the right to the assistance of the States parties to the present. Charter in their liberation struggle against foreign domination, be it political, economic or cultural.
- Constitution of the Republic of South Africa
- United Nations Charter
- International Law
- OAU – African Union Charter
Further legal documentation recognising the right to self-determination (secession/independence/autonomy) can be found amongst a great number of sources, however for this purpose there is more than sufficient excess detailing the legal framework which supports and guarantees the inalienable human right to self-determination.
(If direction toward further legal documentation supporting self-determination is necessary, contact the Head Office.)
There are yet other elements to self-determination which even further strengthen the case for independence. One is that if a country was formed through a union of previously autonomous states (see: History) there is a higher propensity for those states to reclaim independence:
- Prior to 1910 ‘South Africa’ did not exist.
- After the Boer Wars the British Empire forced together six autonomous entities within the borders of what they called the ‘Union of South Africa’ (named after the territories geographical location in the south of Africa).
- The Union of South Africa’s newly formed borders included the two Boer Republics, the two British protectorates, the Kingdom of Swaziland and Lesotho and the two British Colonies, the Cape Colony and Natal Colony.
- In 1966 and 1968, Lesotho and Swaziland, respectively returned to independence. This accounts for the two ‘holes’ in the current Republic of South Africa.
- The remaining Colonies and Republics then accounted for the ‘Union of South Africa’.
- Every other British Colony in the world, outside of South Africa, has been granted independence. However the Cape still remains locked into a colonial Union enforced by the old British Empire.
- The United Nations over the past 50 years has placed increasing pressure (see UN Self Determination: Principle and The Law) on the need for colonial constructs to be removed. The damage of artificially constructed colonial borders has been felt throughout the African continent, and the UN’s role in the recent peaceful referendum for independence in South Sudan is testament to, both Africa and the UN’s dedication towards the right to self-determination.
All over the world territories are choosing self-determination.
Some of the countries that have already claimed independence:
- Singapore 1965
- Lesotho 1966*
- Swaziland 1968*
- Bangladesh 1973
- Czech Republic 1993*
- Slovakia 1993*
- Eritrea (Ethiopia) 1993
- Hong Kong 1997
- Serbia and Montenegro 2006*
- Kosovo 2008*
- South Sudan 2011*
Some of the countries that are currently in the process of claiming independence:
- Scotland, Britain
- Wales, Britain
- Quebec, Canada
- Greenland, Denmark
- Western Sahara, Morocco
- Northern Italy, Italy
- Kashmir, India
- Zanzibar, Tanzania
- Flanders, Belgium*
Other African Colonies that have gained independence:
- Sudan (1956) – South Sudan (2011)*
- Ghana (1957)
- Nigeria (1960)
- Tanzania (1961)
- Uganda (1962)
- Kenya (1963)
- Malawi (1964)
- Zambia (1964)
- Gambia (1965)
- Lesotho (1966)
- Botswana (1966)
- Mauritius (1968)
- Swaziland (1968)
- Seychelles (1976)
- Zimbabwe (1980)
- Namibia (1990)
…Why not the Cape?
Since the forced Union of South Africa in 1910 two of the composite territories have already reclaimed independence.
- Lesotho in 1966
- Swaziland in 1968
Is Cape independence possible? Given all of the above evidence, in conjunction with a range of other factors not directly discussed in this section (economic, political and social), it is most likely just a matter of time and degree before it becomes inevitable.