CHAPTER ONE GENERAL INTRODUCTION
Background to the Study
Self-determination as a right has found difficulty in interpretation as well as its exact meaning in international law. The determination and demarcation of fixed territories and the subsequent allegiance between those territories and the individuals or groups of individuals that inhabit them is central to the study of self-determination. This is arguably the prime factor that creates room for individuals and groups within international and human rights law to contest this right. 1 International society consists of individuals and groups that ostensibly gain legitimacy and locus standi in international law by virtue of being part of a sovereign state. 2 The acquisition of defined and fixed territoriality is a prerequisite for the recognition of statehood.3 The quest for recognition has widespread manifestation in contemporary society; from indigenous people who seek control over the destiny of their ancestral land to struggle for self-determination.
The issue of territoriality itself remains contested in international law. The implication of this contest is most visible in the treatment of the right to self- determination.4 To ascertain the manner in which the legal treatment of territory affects groups seeking self-determination, this thesis shall seek to identify the international legal regime on the subject as well as assess the doctrinal tools that lie at the foundation of territoriality and self-determination. In order to construct and uphold its legitimacy, international law must re-conceptualize the principle of territoriality and the right to self-determination. This can be approached by reconciling the traditional state centered approach. This approach views self-determination as the legitimacy of the state. On the other hand, the human rights approach, views self- determination as a foundational right on which the edifice of human rights can be built.5