Folkens självbestämmanderätt

Mats Björkenfeldt

I FN-stadgan nämns (principen om) folkens självbestämmanderätt i artiklarna 1 och 55, men det anges inte närmare vad denna princip innebär. Man kan dock notera att i artikel 1 anges först att FN:s ändamål är att upprätthålla internationell fred och säkerhet.

Om detta har Ingemar Folke skrivit klokt på denna sajt . Samtidigt har man på vänsterkanten anlagt ett annat synsätt:  där författaren synes se det som relevant att helt bortse från FN-stadgans primära ändamål.

I dagarna utkom lägligt boken Autonomy and Self-determination. Between Legal Assertions and Utopian Aspiration med Peter Hilpold som redaktör (Edvard Elgar 2018).

Av innehållsförteckningen antyder bokens räckvidd:


  • Self-determination and autonomy: between secession and internal self-determination.
  • The relevance of democratic principles to the self-determination norm.
  • Self-determination and secession: similarities and differences.
  • The referendum as an instrument for decision-making in autonomy-related situations.
  • Secession as a new constitutional problem: the question of independence in autonomy systems.
  • “Free at last”? Scotland, independence and EU membership.
  • Italian approaches to self-determination: theory and practice.
  • The Kurds between discrimination, autonomy and self-determination.
  • Autonomy and self-determination in Spain: a constitutional law perspective.
  • Autonomy and self-determination in Spain: Catalonia’s claims for independence from the perspective of international law.
  • Self-determination, autonomy, independence, and the case of Québec.

Utöver vad stadgan innehåller, har FN:s generalförsamling antagit åtminstone tre resolutioner som angår folkens självbestämmanerätt, varvid den viktigaste är den om Friendly Relations från 1970 (se Lagen mot krig. Celanders 2013, s. 187 ff).:

Paragraf 7 lyder:

 The principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples

By virtue of the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations, all peoples have the right freely to determine, without external interference, their political status and to pursue their economic, social and cultural development, and every State has the duty to respect this right in accordance with the provisions of the Charter.

Every State has the duty to promote, through joint and separate action, realization of the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, in accordance with the provisions of the Charter, and to render assistance to the United Nations in carrying out the responsibilities entrusted to it by the Charter regarding the implementation of the principle, in order:

  1. To promote friendly relations and co-operation among States; and
  2. To bring a speedy end to colonialism, having due regard to the freely expressed will of the peoples concerned;

and bearing in mind that subjection of peoples to alien subjugation, domination and exploitation constitutes a violation of the principle, as well as a denial of fundamental human rights, and is contrary to the Charter.

Every State has the duty to promote through joint and separate action universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with the Charter.

The establishment of a sovereign and independent State, the free association or integration with an independent State or the emergence into any other political status freely determined by a people constitute modes of implementing the right of self-determination by that people.

Every State has the duty to refrain from any forcible action which deprives peoples referred to above in the elaboration of the present principle of their right to self-determination and freedom and independence. In their actions against, and resistance to, such forcible action in pursuit of the exercise of their right to self-determination, such peoples are entitled to seek and to receive support in accordance with the purposes and principles of the Charter.

The territory of a colony or other Non-Self-Governing Territory has, under the Charter, a status separate and distinct from the territory of the State administering it; and such separate and distinct status under the Charter shall exist until the people of the colony or Non-Self-Governing Territory have exercised their right of self-determination in accordance with the Charter, and particularly its purposes and principles.

 Nothing in the foregoing paragraphs shall be construed as authorizing or encouraging any action which would dismember or impair, totally or in part, the territorial integrity or political unity of sovereign and independent States conducting themselves in compliance with the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples as described above and thus possessed of a government representing the whole people belonging to the territory without distinction as to race, creed or colour.

Every State shall refrain from any action aimed at the partial or total disruption of the national unity and territorial integrity of any other State or country.”

Notera här den av anmälaren kursiverade texten!

Det är mot denna bakgrund republiken Sydsudans förklarade sig självständig den 9 juli 2011, för att fem dagar senare bli accepterad som den 193 medlemsstaten i Förenta nationerna. (1934 hade Nationernas förbund 58 medlemmar.)

Professor Peter Hilpold klargör dock med all önskvärd tydlighet att en “right to self-determination – be it of an external or an internal nature – never provides a justification for a military intervention. It is therefore not possible to reintroduce by this way, through the back door, a right to humanitarian intervention and neither does the existence of a secession conflict abolish the prohibition of intervention.”


Och det är mot denna bakgrund Natos militära operationer i Kosovo 1999 och Kosovos ”act of self-determination of 2008” måste ses. Enligt Hilpold var Natos agerande uppenbart olagligt (”strictly forbidden by international law”). Men som han påpekar: ”Nonetheless, the international community has de facto ignored this violation; no sanctions were applied. There can be no doubt that NATO intervention was a factual precondition for Kosovo’s independence. Nonetheless, to draw a direct line between the events of 24 March 1999 and those of 17 February 2008 and to see here an expression of a right to remedial self-determination would hardly be legally plausible. Even among those states which expressed themselves eventually (de facto) in favour of the existence of such a right, the vast majority rejected such a qualification for the present case. Essentially, the ICJ followed this line when it qualified this situation as a sequence of factual events in a sui generis context and nowhere does it give the impression of recognizing a remedial right to secession. But neither does the ICJ subscribe to the different extreme: While Judge Koroma has expressed the conviction that a secession was prohibited as international law protects the territorial integrity of states the Kosovo Opinion clearly bears out that the ICJ does not support this position.”

I FN:s definition av aggression, artikel 5:3 (se Lagen mot krig, s. 194), anges dock: ”No territorial acquisition or special advantage resulting from aggression is or shall be recognized as lawful”.

Genom att domstolen tillämpade en “sui generis context” och inte en strikt rättslig metod, synes Judge Koromas votum vara det korrekta. Och man frågar sig om domstolen skulle anlägga samma frirättsliga metod om Rysslands annektering av Krim skulle hamna på dess bord.

Vad gäller Ryssland och ”Post Soviet Sucessions” påstår den estniske professorn Rein Müllerson, som skrivit kapitlet Self-determination and secession: similarities and differences, att till skillnad från Rysslands agerande bland annat på Krim, guidades Nato av folkrätten när man bombade Jugoslavien 1999. Påståendet gör hans artikel ointressant, då Nato inte ens försökte rättfärdiga bombningarna i rättsliga termer: se här en artikel på sajten under rubriken Kosovo.


Den finländske professorn Markku Suksis, som skrivit kapitlet The referendum as an instrument for decision-making in autonomy-related situations, varnar i en fotnot för politiska ledare som tar ordet ”humanity” i sin mun:

“Already in the 1920s, German philosopher and legal theoretician Carl Schmitt incisively wrote: ‘When a state fights its political enemy in the name of humanity, it is not a war for the sake of humanity, but a war wherein a particular state seeks to usurp a universal concept against its military opponent. […] The concept of humanity is an especially useful ideological instrument of imperialist expansion, and in its ethical-humanitarian form it is a specific vehicle of economic imperialism. Here one can be reminded of a somewhat modified expression of Proudhon’s: ‘whoever invokes humanity wants to cheat’ (Carl Schmitt, The Concept of the Political (University of Chicago Press 1995) 54). Schmitt’s controversial political affiliations and the fact that they were written almost a century ago do not diminish the topicality of his insights. When political leaders, especially of so-called great powers, speak on behalf of humanity and refer to values that in their view are universal, it is always wise to double-check; are they not hiding, either hypocritically or naively, their particular interests behind the talk about universal values and concerns for humanity.”

Boken innehåller manga intressanta artiklar. Här ska jag slutligen lyfta fram kapitlet om Self-determination, autonomy, independence, and the case of Québec.

1995 röstade 49,42 procent av invånarna för Québecs självständighet, vilket fick den federala regeringen att fråga Kanadas högsta domstol om vägledning. Domen har blivit en ”landmark opinion”.

Domstolen fann det klart att folkrätten inte ger ”component parts” av en suverän stat en rätt att ensidigt avskiljas från sin ”parent state”.  Det skulle strida mot statens territoriella integritet. Men vid exceptionella omständigheter kan motsatsen gälla, som en del av den allmänna folkrätten. Här hänvisade man bland annat till resolutionen om Friendly Relations (se ovan). Därtill hade man att beakta den kanadensiska grundlagen. Och det var just Québecs position inom den kanadensiska federationen, som innebar att dess rätt till självbestämmande inte innebar en rätt till utträde enligt folkrätten. Men samtidigt hänvisade man indirekt till effektivitetsprincipen. Och därtill fann man att Rest of Canada hade en skyldighet att förhandla med Québec, om en framtida folkomröstning skulle ge en ”clear majority” till förmån för en ”clear question”.

Sannolikt skulle domstolen underkänna de opinionsmätningar som gjordes på Åland 1917 och 1919. Suksi skriver på sidan 98:

“There exists a widespread misunderstanding that secession referendums would have been organized in the Åland Islands in 1917 or 1919 to show support for integration of the islands with Sweden. However, the measures taken by and on behalf of the population of the Åland Islands were, in fact and de jure, not referendums at all. Instead, they could be understood as two different signature campaigns, because lists of names were collected, often bare lists without the petition itself written onto them, by private individuals amongst persons who in terms of age qualified as voters. Without doubt, when handed over to the government of Sweden, the signatures demonstrated the feelings of the population and were probably considered by the Council of the League of Nations, when it decided in 1921 that the Åland Islands would continue to belong to the sovereignty of Finland.”


Boken kommer säkert bli ett standardverk när det gäller folkens självbestämmanderätt.