n Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe - 'n Internasionale perspektief op selfbeskikking in Suid-Afrika

Volume 46, Issue 4
  • ISSN : 0041-4751


By recognising "the notion of the right of self-determination of any community sharing a common cultural and language heritage", South Africa's Constitution of 1996 (article 235) acknowledges what is a salient principle of both international law and modern world politics. However, precious little practical effect has thus far been given to this principle in South Africa - not least because other provisions of the Constitution restrict the actual granting of self-determination to cultural and language groups. This narrowly circumscribed right to communal self-determination falls well short of universal standards of self-determination enshrined in international conventions and expressed in state practice elsewhere. Meaningful self-determination for language and cultural groups in South Africa requires some devolution of power on both a territorial and non-territorial basis to groups that claim this right. If territorial self-determination is to be exercised at more than the municipal level, constitutional changes would be called for.

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