The right to self-determination has become one of the most complex issues for U.S. foreign policymakers and the international community at large.
The right to self-determination has become one of the most complex issues for U.S. foreign policymakers and the international community at large. Confusion over the issue stems not so much from whether there exists a right to self-determination, which is included in many international human rights documents, but from the failure of those documents to define exactly who is entitled to claim this right—a group, a people, or a nation—and what exactly the right confers. At the same time, the international system, particularly in the post–World War II era, has steadfastly defended the inviolability of existing nation-states' borders, regardless of how and when they were determined.
Patricia Carley was a program officer for the former Soviet Union and Turkey at the Institute, where she also worked on broader issues such as the OSCE and Western relations with the Islamic world. She is the author of several Institute publications, including The War in Tajikistan Three Years On, Turkey's Role in the Middle East: A Conference Report and the Future of the CSCE.