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The right of nations to self-determination (from German: Selbstbestimmungsrecht der Völker) is a cardinal principle in modern international law (commonly regarded as a jus cogens rule), binding, as such, on the United Nations as authoritative interpretation of the Charter’s norms. It states that nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and fair equality of opportunity have the right to freely choose their sovereignty and international political status with no external compulsion or interference which can be traced back to the Atlantic Charter, signed on 14 August 1941, by Franklin D. Roosevelt, President of the United States of America, and Winston Churchill, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom who pledged The Eight Principal points of the Charter. The principle does not state how the decision is to be made, or what the outcome should be, whether it be independence, federation, protection, some form of autonomy or full assimilation. Neither does it state what the delimitation between nations should be—or what constitutes a nation. In fact, there are conflicting definitions and legal criteria for determining which groups may legitimately claim the right to self-determination.
On 14 December 1960, the United Nations General Assembly adopted United Nations General Assembly Resolution 1514 (XV) under titled Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples provided for the granting of independence to colonial countries and peoples in providing an inevitable legal linkage between self-determination and its goal of decolonisation, and a postulated new international law-based right of freedom also in economic self-determination. In Article 5 states: Immediate steps shall be taken in Trust and Non-Self-Governing Territories, or all other territories which have not yet attained independence, to transfer all powers to the peoples of those territories, without any conditions or reservations, in accordance with their freely expressed will and desire, without any distinction as to race, creed or colour, in order to enable them to enjoy complete independence and freedom, moreover on 15 December 1960 the United Nations General Assembly adopted United Nations General Assembly Resolution 1541 (XV) under titled Principles which should guide members in determining whether or nor an obligation exists to transmit the information called for under Article 73e of the United Nations Charter in Article 3 provided that [ i ] nadequacy of political, economic, social or educational preparedness should never serve as a pretext for delaying independence. To monitor the implementation of Resolution 1514 in 1961 the General Assembly created the Special Committee referred to popularly as the Special Committee on Decolonization to ensure decolonization complete compliance with the principle of self-determination in General Assembly Resolution 1541 (XV), 12 Principle of the Annex defining free association with an independent State, integration into an independent State, or independence as the three legitimate options of full self-government compliance with the principle of self-determination.
"National aspirations must be respected; people may now be dominated and governed only by their own consent. Self determination is not a mere phrase; it is an imperative principle of action. . . . "
By extension the term self-determination has come to mean the free choice of one's own acts without external compulsion.
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