December 24, 2010

UN declaration "could wreak havoc"

The Rights of Indigenous Peoples

By Shoshena BryenApplied to American Indian tribes, before which the president made his announcement, this may take the form of reparations and mineral rights. The Executive Director of the Indian Law Resource Center said, "International human rights law now recognizes...rights of self-determination, property and culture." It is unlikely to involve having Indian tribes secede from the Union.

But applied to Palestinians and Kurds, not to mention minorities from Azeris in Iran to Uighurs in China to Armenians, Hmong tribesmen and Guatemalan Indians, it could wreak havoc.

The Kurds form a tribal/national grouping that spans Iraq, Iran, Turkey and Syria. They are unquestionably an "indigenous people" with a distinct language and culture. Is the United States prepared to support border changes to allow them the right of self-determination? American lives were expended in the quest for a unitary Iraq, and we supported Turkey's determination not to allow Kurds to secede during the PKK war. But how can we deny the Kurds while supporting a Palestinian "right to self determination"?
Comment:  Bryen is grossly overestimating the UN declaration's effect. As I said to someone, I'll doubt it'll affect a single decision in Congress or the courts.

The answer to Bryen's question about the Kurds is: We can't deny the Kurds, morally speaking. They, the Palestinians, and the other indigenous groups all deserve more freedom.

What kind of freedom? At a minimum they should have a quasi-sovereign status like America's Indian nations. Even better would be to have quasi-independent states with the option to leave the country by a popular vote. Canada has done this with Quebec and it hasn't destroyed the country.

For more on Palestinians, see No Right of Return for Palestinians, Indians? and Palestinians = Na'vi. For more on the UN declaration, see UN Declaration = Status Quo and Obama Will Give US to Indians?!

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