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There has been much controversy as to exactly what is meant by the right of self-determination. Broadly, the right guarantees all people the freedom to determine their political status and pursue their economic, social, and cultural development. Importantly, the right includes the choice to freely dispose of one’s own property and wealth.

The right is expressly recognised in a number of international instruments. In particular, both the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, state clearly that the right of self-determination exists and must be promoted by states. There have been many comments as to the importance of the right and its role in the maintenance of international peace.

Despite this, some regional treaties do not include an express guarantee of the right of self-determination. Similarly many states do not recognise the right within their domestic laws, while others only have implicit provisions.

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