The right of peoples to self-determination is a pillar of contemporary international law. Since the entry into force of the United Nations charter in 1945, it has constituted the legal and political basis of the process of decolonization, which witnessed the birth of over 60 new states in the second half of the twentieth century. This was a historic victory even if it coincided with the will of certain great powers to break up the “exclusive preserve” of colonial (primarily European) empires of the time.
During the later decades, several dozen countries were created on this basis, concretizing the right to self-determination of peoples officially considered colonized or not.
This brochure does not pretend to supply answers to all the questions raised by the right to self-determination, which, it goes without saying, comports a significant political dimension. At a time when the pillaging of the South’s natural resources has taken a new turn for the worse – with, for example the highly questionable acquisition of millions of hectares of land by foreign countries or transnational corporations – it is necessary to revitalize the right of peoples to sovereignty over their natural wealth and resources, which is an essential component of the right to self-determination. It is this last aspect – the right of peoples to this sovereignty – that is central to protecting the affected peoples. This will constitute the connecting thread of this publication.