In Political Science and International Law, the term self-determination of the Peoples indicates the rights of the Peoples to decide freely and for themselves the form of government by which they will be ruled, as well as determining to what state entity they will belong and, in the last analysis, to be constituted, if they so desire, as an independent national State. This latter aspect of the principle of self-determination of the Peoples, very much related to the concept of nationalism and with forming a national State, is still today the one most subject to debate.
A nation usually shares the same language, history, culture and common religion, but the formation of a national State requires the recognition of a territory in which the people resides and the formation of a government that administers this territory. By definition, the self-determination of the Peoples, as being the enhancer of the birth of a new national State, implies the resulting fragmentation of another that already exists, for which the claim for self-determination is usually problematic or traumatic. If not, it’s good to remember that one of the factors that triggered World War I were the pro-independence aspirations of Balkan peoples.
At the end of the conflict, the subsequent Treaty of Versailles – whose main agreements were inspired by the American President Thomas Woodrow Wilson’s 14 points – was clear in admitting the right to Self-determination of the peoples, a tendency even more consolidated after the end of World War II, when the United Nations Organisation (UN), its own foundational Charter, recognized the right of the peoples to their free determination (Articles 1 and 55).