Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Geography of Self Determination

The Geography of Self Determination
Tupac Enrique Acosta

When the United Nations passed General Assembly resolution 1514 in 1960, declaring “All peoples have the right of self determination”, one of the arguments put forward by the member states of the UN was to clothe the concept of territorial integrity of the states themselves as being protected under the same principle.  In fact, section 6 of the same resolution GA1514 states:

“Any attempt aimed at the partial or total disruption of the national unity and the territorial integrity of a country is incompatible with the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations.”

In essence, these two statements from the seminal document that made colonization a crime for the first time in international law established an inherent conflict in the UN processes that now, half a century later, have come to a definitive point in terms of historical resolution. 

Nowhere is this more evident than by the blatant efforts by the anglophile bloc of government states (US-Canada-New Zealand-Australia) to block the full recognition of the Right of Self Determination in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.  The position of these government states is an attempt to place the right of self-determination of Indigenous Peoples as existing only within the parameters of domestic policy and legal systems, even though these same systems are products of colonization itself.

World Water One


The political arguments on both sides of the issue are in conflict, not just because of the doctrines of power that gave birth to the concepts of dominion which define the states and the social relations of their member constituencies, but also because the framework for resolution of the issues within the UN system is incompetent to address the spirituality of the earth based territorial reality of the Indigenous Nations, and the system itself is incoherent according to the geographic sciences of modern times.

What is lacking is a mechanism to define the issues in common terms, outside of the intellectual framework of colonization and dominion. What is missing is a clarification of the concept of territorial integrity, as a dimension of ecological and social sustainability and not a bastard relic from the intellectual Regime of Doctrines spawned by the Divine Right of Kings.

Emergence of the Fourth Principle

GA 1514 was followed by GA1541, which specified principles that defined three options for the attainment of “a full measure of self-government”, as the only contemplated political trajectories at the time for relief from colonization.  These are:

(a)           Emergence as a sovereign independent State;
(b)           Free association with an independent state; or
(c)           Integration with an independent state.

It is an incontrovertible fact that the transfer of territorial jurisdiction from Indigenous Nations authorities to dominion concepts of control and allegiance by the states is historically flawed and legally suspect.  There are unquantifiable elements. The case of the Western Shoshone is contemporary evidence that this is not just history but reality in the context of the hemisphere of the Americas, yet there is a larger issue.

The social and geographic realities of the Indigenous Peoples as Nations continue to exist as a political anomaly in terms of the international legal system of the United Nations.  Specifically, in this hemisphere of Abya Yala [the Americas] not only is this true in the face of centuries of colonization but also in terms of the options for relief from the crime.

Self definition being the precept of self determination, the three options of GA 1541 do not adequately describe the outcome of principles of self-determination which would define the Indigenous Peoples and our continuing relationship to our ancestral territories and surviving traditional societies.

The Emergence of the Indigenous Nations is a daily occurrence, one which is manifested in accord with natural laws of complementarity and harmony with the natural world, which includes our fellow human beings.  This ancient tradition is the shared cultural infrastructure of our confederations of families, clans, communities Pueblos and Nations. It could be characterized as a State of Integrity, which is not independent but interdependent within the network of ecosystems that describe our traditional homelands, sacred sites, territories and nations: the Territorial Integrity of Mother Earth.

Thus the Emergence of the Fourth Principle for decolonization: INTERDEPENDENCE, self-determination as an expression of community ecology and environmental sustainability. It is a particular and universal principle that may serve as a threshold concept to arrive at that ancient place once called the New World, if only we could create and travel guided by maps of the geography of self-determination.

Embassy of Indigenous Peoples
802 N. 7th Street     Phoenix, AZ 85006
P.O. Box 24009 Phoenix, AZ 85074



Territorial Integrity of Mother Earth 

Architectures of the States and the
Territorial Integrity of Mother Earth

As Peoples of Mother Earth, we collectively determine to regenerate our relationships among ourselves within a Cultural Climate of Mutual Respect, Inclusion, Complementarity, and Self Determination beyond the existing constrains of the international systems of state sovereignty and in responsibility to the well being of the future generations;

Recognizing that unless this fundamental dimension of international relationships among human societies at the planetary level is first recognized, established and affirmed, there will be no sustainable progress in addressing effectively and in timely manner the Climate Chaos scenario that now befalls all of Humanity due to the impacts on Global Climate exacerbated greenhouse gas emissions by industrial society and extractive industries in particular in complicity with national government states and existing international monetary systems and institutions.

Therefore we proclaim and hereby reaffirm in collective Responsibility as Peoples of Mother Earth, in Equality with all Peoples, our collective Right of Representation and Self Determination in addressing the issues before the COP20 beyond the constraints of the architecture of the States and their agreements;

We further affirm and proclaim in Full, Effective, and Complete exercise of our equally shared Right of Self Determination as Peoples of Mother Earth, that our Sacred Mother Earth is subject of the Right of Self Determination beyond the limited juridical constraints of the Westphalian System of State Sovereignty represented in UN system and the international architectures of personality and procedures of negotiation and agreements.

Embassy of Indigenous Peoples

P.O. Box 24009 Phoenix, AZ 85074