The Tibet Question: Is Self-Determination, as a Principle, Absolute?
Is the principle of self-determination an absolute? As a guiding concept, self-determination is fine, but as an absolute, inviolable principle, self-determination is flawed.
For example, do the resource rich regions of Bolivia have a right to separate from the rest of the state and horde the wealth?3 Is this what self-determination is about? Given that the Bolivians in the provinces of Santa Cruz, Beni, Pando and Tarija are predominantly of European derivation, it would be akin to according preeminent territorial rights to the descendants of colonialists. Is this what self-determination is about?
As a second example, the predominantly French-speaking province of Québec has long flirted with separation from federation with Canada. However, since the sentiment for separation varies by geographical region within Québec, anti-separatists propose a partitioning of the province should separatism ever carry the day in a referendum. Moreover, thoroughly undermining the self-determination aspirations of Québécois (mainly Francophones) is that it is based on the rejection of the self-determination of the Original Peoples of Québec! Is this what self-determination is about?