CULTURE LOSS AND ALTERNATIVES TO STATEHOOD
LESSONS FROM THE INUIT, KUNA AND ROMANI
Crystal Ann Luce
B.A., Mesa State College, 2003
A thesis submitted to the
University of Colorado at Denver
in partial fulfillment
of partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the degree of
Master of Arts
This thesis for the Master of Arts
Crystal Ann Luce
has been approved
Luce, Crystal Ann (M.A. Political Science)
Culture Loss and Alternatives to Statehood: Lessons from the Inuit, Kuna and
Thesis directed by Glenn T. Morris
This thesis examines the State and its potential destruction of ethno-
national culture of those ethno-nations who achieve the status of independent
State. It also examines alternatives to Statehood which may not be as destructive
to ethno-national culture while achieving self-determination. Chapter 1
introduces the outline of the thesis. Chapter 2 examines the definitions and
current status of ethno-nations. Chapter 3 explores reasons why the State and
ethno-national views of the world may not correspond. The first section examines
the theoretical reasons why State and ethno-nations values differ. The second
section examines two case studies, Eritrea and East Timor, and the difficulties
each is having with the State system. Chapter 4 explores three autonomous
agreements: the Inuit/Greenland, the Kuna/Panama, and the Romani. Chapter 5
examines the similarities between the different autonomous agreements. Chapter
6 evaluates the self-determination of the State and the autonomous agreements.
Ultimately the State achieves most aspects of self-determination except cultural
self-determination. Autonomous agreements have difficulty achieving external
self-determination but do fulfill the other principles of self-determination.
Autonomous agreements provide a form of self-determination that does not
destroy the ethno-national culture in-order to achieve self-determination and
should be further evaluated when examining the forms of self-determination for
This abstract accurately represents the content of the candidates thesis. I
recommend its publication.
Glenn T. Morris
I dedicate this thesis to my parents for their unwavering support of my endeavors
and to my mentor Dr. Tim Casey thank you for being you.
My thanks to my thesis committee for their support and patience during this
process. Also, my thanks to Joan Policastri for her guiding work.
2. BASIC CONCEPTS AND TERMINOLOGY...............................10
State of Ethno-National Peoples in the Status Quo......27
3. THE STATE AND THE ETHNO-NATION.............................. 33
Disadvantages to Statehood.............................34
What Can Happen to States When They Become States......39
Statehood and the Ethno-Nation..................54
4. THE SEARCH FOR SELF-DETERMINATION: 3 CASE STUDIES............56
Inuit of Greenland.....................................59
History of the Kalaallit........................59
Early European Interaction with the Kalaallit-Nunnat...60
Events Leading to the Home Rule Act....................61
Developing the Home Rule Act...........................65
The Home Rule Act......................................67
Philosophical Conclusion of Home Rule..................71
Kuna of San Bias Panama.......................................73
Colonization of the Area...............................74
Struggles for Kuna Self-Determination..................75
Impact of Carta Organica and Law 16....................81
Current Situation of the Kuna..........................84
Philosophical Impact of Carta Organica and Law 16......86
The Romani of Europe..........................................87
Discrimination Against the Romani......................88
Beginning of Discrimination............................89
The Hungarian Romani Self-Governments..................98
International Romani Union.............................99
Trans-European Roma Federation.........................103
The Impact of Romani Civil Society Organizations.......104
5. Analysis of the Three Case Studies: Inuit, Kuna, Romani.............. 105
Why do the Ethno-Nations Avoid Statehood...................... 106
What is the Nature and Location of the Ethno-National
What is the Role and the Interest of the State in the
Motivation and Role of the State.......................112
Context which Allowed Agreements to Occur..............114
6. CULTURE AND SELF DETERMINATION.......................................116
Does the State Always Provide for an Adequate
Expression of Self-Determination.............................117
Do the Alternatives Provide for Self- Determination..........126
Other Areas of Examination...........................134
All peoples have the right to self-determination; by virtue of that
right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue
their economic, social and cultural development.
-United Nations Charter, Article 11
After World War II, the Free World initiated an examination of the plight of
colonized peoples. The international community took an unequivocal stand against
the colonial empires and legitimized the struggle of colonized peoples for self-
determination.2 Emerging international standards required colonial powers to engage
in reasonable action to enable colonies to practice the right to self-determination. The
States of what were the First and Second Worlds assumed only peoples of the Third
World were able to express their self-determination; the plight of ethno-nations
(sometimes referred to as the Fourth World) went ignored.3 Another international
assumption was that the best form of self-determination for former colonies, that
1 United Nations Charter, (8/25/05).
2 Lee. C. Buchheit, Secession: The Legitimacy of Self-Determination, (New Haven: Yale University
Press, 1978), 17.
3 The lsl and 2nd worlds have become somewhat anachromatic, but in this period, the 1st world was
considered to be the Western, capitalist bloc, especially the U.S. and Western Europe. The 2nd world
was the Socialist Bloc, led by the U.S.S.R. Most of the remaining States were considered to be the
Third World. Stateless ethno-nations, the 4th World, were generally not considered in this framework.
Bernard Nietschmann Militarization and Indigenous Peoples: The Third World War, Cultural
Survival Quarterlyll, no.3, (1987): 1.
sought the full measure of self-determination, was political independence, inevitably
leading to the creation of new States.
Are there elements of the State structure which are destructive to the ethno-
nations identity? Are there alternative forms of self-determination which do not
destroy the organic identity of ethno-nations? This thesis has three main premises.
First, all peoples posses the right to self-determination and most ethno-nations satisfy
that definition.4 Second, elements of the State structure exist which can transform the
identity of ethno-nations. Third, alternatives to the State exist which can provide self-
determination without devastating the core of ethno-national identity.
The United Nations has decreed that all peoples have the right to self-
determination.5 The definition of peoples, the beneficiaries of the right of self-
determination, is a contentious point in the debate surrounding self-determination.
Ethno-nations have been denied recognition as peoples, yet most possess the essential
criteria to be considered peoples.6
In GAR 1541 (XV) of December 15 1960, the UN General Assembly adopted
a number of principles to guide members in determining whether or not an obligation
exists to transmit the information called for under Article 73 of the Charter, to report
4 Garth Nettheim, Peoples and Populations-lndigenous Peoples and the Rights of Peoples, in
James Crawford, Politics Among Nations: The Struggle for Power and Peace (Oxford: Clarendon
Press, 1979), 108.
5 Article 1 and 55 of the UN Charter, http://www.un.orti/aboutun/chaiter/index.html. (8/25/05).
6 Nietschmann, supra note 3, at 4.
to the UN regarding colonial territories. The UN outlined three possible expressions
A Non-Self-Goveming Territory can be said to have reached
a full measure of self-government by
(a) Emergence as a sovereign independent State;
(b) Free association with an independent State; or
(c) Integration with an independent State.7
Within international discourse often the assumption for the optimal form of
self-determination is presented as an independent State. Max Weber seemed to
support this assumption when he wrote
One might well define the concept of nation in the following
way; a nation is a community of sentiment which would
adequately manifest itself in a State of its own; hence a nation is
a community which normally tends to produce a State of its own.8
Yet, this interpretation seems overly narrow, and consequently limits the possible
future potential of ethno-nations expression of self-determination. The State
structure often conflicts with the structure and ideology of ethno-nations which can
further limit ethno-nations expression of self-determination.9
Alternative forms of self-determination, beyond the State, often go ignored.
Several reasons exist for the disregard of alternative forms of self-determination. One
7 Aureliu Cristescu, The Right of Self-Determination: Historical and Current Development on the
Basis of United Nations Instruments, Special Rapporteur of the Sub-Commission and Prevention of
Discrimination and Protection of Minorities, (New York: UN Doc: E/CN.4/Sub.2/404/Rev. 1. United
8 Max Weber, The Nation, in Nationalism, John Hutchinson and Anthony D. Smith, eds., (New
York: Oxford University Press, 1994), 25.
9 This argument is further explored in Chapter 3 with the examination of the case studies of Eritrea and
reason is a lack of recognition of sovereignty and self-determination of ethno-national
peoples. These elements are essential for an ethno-nations survival, yet are often
masked by an acceptance of the sanctity of the State in the international community.
Second, the State is viewed as the supreme representative of all people within its
territory including ethno-nations captured within the claimed boundaries of existing
States.10 Yet, ethno-nations have arguably retained the right of self-determination
and do not always recognize the representation of the State.11
The purpose of this thesis is to examine the alternatives to Statehood by
examining autonomous agreements between ethno-nations and States, in an attempt
to suggest potential alternatives for Stateless peoples such as the Romani. Chapter
One introduces the outline and basic arguments of the thesis.
Chapter Two examines the ideology and definitions underlying the basic
terms and terminology needed to focus the research and arguments of the thesis. Not
only is a semantical analysis important to focus the research, but it is also critical to
dismantle the myths concerning ethno-nations and their rights.12 Ethno-nations,
culture, State, and self-determination are terms utilized for centuries for various
purposes, therefore competing definitions exist. Chapter Two also includes a
10 This is discussed in Chapter 3.
"Nietschmann, supra note 3, at 4.
12 Antonio de Nebrija reportedly stated to Queen Isabella of Spain, Language is the perfect instrument
of empire. Robert A. Williams, Jr. The American Indian in Western Legal Thought: The Discourses
of Conquest, (New York: Oxford University Press, 1990), 74. It is important to dismantle the colonial
constructs of the language to get to the basic arguments of the thesis.
discussion of the current plight of ethno-nations and their struggles for self-
determination. This section is included to represent the premise that ethno-nations
are not content with the status quo or with unilateral or arbitrary State interpretations
of the world system.
Chapter Three examines differing views about the State. The first section
examines disadvantages to the State and why it may not be the answer for all ethno-
nations self-determination: what State elements do not correspond with ethno-
national identity. The last section examines two different ethno-nations (Eritrea and
East Timor) which have achieved Statehood and problems each is having conforming
to the State construct. Eritrea and East Timor were chosen because they are facing
different difficulties transforming ethno-national values to State values. In the case of
Eritrea, there is oppression of peoples in its territory and constant threat of war with
Ethiopia. East Timor is trying to rebuild from the demolished condition Indonesia
left it in as the departing colonial occupier and is now making economic deals with
former nemeses, being forced to maneuver within a State system that had been
historically hostile to Timorese self-determination.
Chapter Four examines three different ethno-nations and the stages of their
autonomous relations with States. The three ethno-nations are: the Inuit of
Greenland, the Kuna of San Bias, and the Romani of Europe. The ethno-nations are
presented for different reasons. Each has found a unique interpretation of self-
determination. They have also found unique ways of preserving their culture. Inuit
and Kuna agreements with the States of Denmark and Panama, respectively, are
viewed as progressive, while the Romani have taken self-determination into their own
hands and are forging a unique path toward autonomy.13 Chapter Five analyzes the
three autonomous agreements and similarities they may have with each other. The
key elements examined are: why do the ethno-nations avoid Statehood; what is the
nature and location of the ethno-national peoples loyalty; what is the role and the
interest of the State in the autonomous agreements, and what are the
complementary/conflicting motivations of the ethno-nations and the State?
Chapter Six analyzes the self-determination of the ethno-nations which have
pursued Statehood versus ethno-nations that have pursued autonomous agreements.
The ultimate purpose of the chapter is to examine the possibility that autonomous
agreements have the ability to satisfy aspirations of self-determination without
sacrificing ethno-nations organic identity in the process.
Why is the study of autonomous agreements and the self-determination of
ethno-nations important? As ethno-national conflicts increase there must be an
investigation into the different causes and solutions for the ethno-national conflict.
Communitarian strife at the sub-State level, often dubbed
ethnic conflict, has gained much attention in the
aftermath of the Cold War. Despite its higher prominence,
however, the phenomenon of ethnic conflict is not new.
Historically, major world events such as decolonization,
the collapse of empires, and, more recently, the collapse of
communism have caused spikes in the incidence of ethnic
13 The Romani have independent agreements with States but the larger focus of their organization has
been agreements with the European Union.
Anticipating Ethnic Conflict is the US governments attempt to create a Statist
framework for solving ethno-national conflict; however it does not examine
alternative options available to ethno-nations.14 15 Several ethno-nations have found
success in Stateless solutions; they do not rely on a Leviathan to protect them from
the wilderness.16 Ethno-nations have the capability to be independent of the State.
My proposal is not meant to condemn those ethno-nations that have, and continue, to
struggle for Statehood. However, unless ethno-nations are able to find their
equilibrium in the international community, the literature indicates that ethno-nations
are condemned to assimilation and disappearance from Earth and the State system
seems doomed to interminable ethnic conflict. If the view is that the only way for
ethno-nations to truly express their self-determination is through joining the State
structure then they will be assimilated and disappear.
Political science often focuses on those peoples/organizations that play a
dominant role in how politics work. Political scientists examine how the State works,
how they develop, work and gather. Yet a chance exists to examine those actors who
may be overlooked in political science, particularly in the field of international
14 Thomas S. Szayna, Ashley J. Tellis and James A. Winnefield, Anticipating Ethnic Conflict, (Santa
Monica California: RAND, Arroyo Center, 1997) 1.
15 Anticipating Ethnic Conflict is an example of the States mindset that ethno-national conflict can be
dealt with in a specific framework and does not look beyond the obvious.
16 Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan, (New York: Penguin Classics, 1968), 186.
relations. The examination of ethno-nations is becoming more important to political
science. A steady increase in the number of States in the world and growing social
pressures associated with modernization suggest ethnic conflicts will continue for a
long time. Such strife may even increase in the years ahead.17 18 How are we to start
dealing with the increase in conflict? What roles do ethno-nations have in
international relations? Beyond examining these questions there are several other
areas of political science the thesis examines.
First, the thesis is a challenge to the conventional perspectives of the State
system, whether the State is the best stage in the international field for all peoples.
Second, the thesis examines the role that ethno-national identity has in politics.
Third, the thesis examines the worlds coping mechanism for dealing with the
increasing ethno-national recognition and conflict. These ideas provide an
opportunity to expand the scope of the study of political science. The end of the era
of nationalism, so long prophesied, is not remotely in sight. Indeed, nation-ness is the
most universally legitimate value in the political life of our time.
Denial of the right of self-determination has led to conflict in the world.
Recognizing the suppression and oppression of ethno-nations as a form of colonial
thought and extending similar rights accorded other peoples under currently accepted
definitions of self-determination is the only logical step of a world pursuing justice.
17 Szayna, Tellis, and Winnefield, supra note 14, at 1.
18 Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities, 2nd ed., (New York: Verso, 1991), 3.
The injustice that is occurring to ethno-nations due to their reduced status in the world
can lead them to living an unjust life. It seems inconsistent for the world to view
colonialism as inappropriate for former colonial States but not recognize the same
injustice occurring toward other ethno-nations. One logical step for the international
system is to allow ethno-nations to practice self-determination and examine the
different alternatives which they present.
BASIC CONCEPTS AND TERMINOLOGY
This discussion is designed to reveal a diversity of perspectives on ethno-
nations: their origins, formation, evolution/devolution and their endurance/demise.
Terminology is important when discussing the issues of ethno-nations and their
relationship with States. Not only are the words important to focus the research but
also to dismantle the myths concerning ethno-nations and their rights.19 The
comparative study of nationalism has been plagued by improper and inconsistent
terminology20. The purpose of this chapter is to establish the framework for the thesis
discussion. The terms and terminology discussed in this chapter include: ethno-
nations, culture, the State, and self-determination. The last section focuses on the
current status of ethno-national peoples in the status quo is examined.
Derived from the Latin natio the basic term indicates a people related by
19 Language can be used as a form of colonial rule and can further decrease the status of non-Westem
peoples in the international community. It is important to dismantle the colonial construct of the
language to get to basic arguments. Robert A. Williams, Jr., supra note 12, 74.
20 Walker Connor, A Few Cautionary Notes on the History and Future of Ethnonational Conflicts, in
Facing Ethnic Conflicts: Toward a New Realism, Goldstone, Horowitz, Joras, Schetter and Wimmer,
eds., (Lanham Maryland: Roman and Littlefield Pub, 2004), 23.
21 Differences between ethno-nations and States will be discussed further in this chapter.
birth and a quality of innateness.22 No empirical definition of an ethno-nation exists,
yet the phenomenon thrives.23 Ethno-nation has several competing definitions. The
term has no historic/classical core texts to work from, which is not the case for many
other concepts e.g. freedom, democracy.
For the purposes of this research, ethno-nation shall be defined as: a form of
stable human community formed on the basis of common ancestry, history, society,
institutions, ideology, language, psychological make-up, (often) territory and (often)
religion. The definition has severail similarities to other theorists definitions,
examined below, namely community and belonging.
In the early 1980s, Benedict Anderson defined a nation as an imagined
political community- and imagined as both inherently limited and sovereign.24 A
nation is based on a high culture.25 Ernest Gellner supports this idea by stating that
culture is now the necessary shared medium, the life-blood or perhaps rather the
minimal shared atmosphere, within which alone the members of the society can
breathe and survive and produce.26 Walker Connor argues a nation is, a group of
people sharing a myth of common ancestry; it is the largest grouping that can be
22 L. Snyder, The Nationalism Project, (9/1/2005).
23 H. Seton-Watson citied in Benedict Anderson, supra notel8, 3.
25High culture is considered those cultural elements which have shared meaning.
26 Emest Gellner, Nations and Nationalism, (Ithaca, Cornell University Press, 1983), 38.
mobilized by appeals to common blood.27
One contentious point in the definition is the criteria of territory. Anthony
Smith contends that a nation is defined as a named human population sharing an
historic territory, common myths and memories, a mass, public culture, a single
economy and common rights and duties for all members.27 28 Max Weber contends
One might well define the concept of nation in the following
way; a nation is a community of sentiment which would
adequately manifest itself in a State of its own; hence a nation
is a community which normally tends to produce a State of its
Stalin wrote the nation is a historically constituted, stable community of people,
formed on the basis of a common language, territory, economic life, and
psychological make-up manifested in a common culture.30 Jyoti Puri argues
Nations were, therefore, forged out of shared political affiliation to the State.31
Bernard Nietschmann argues:
Nations are geographically bounded territories of a common
people. A nation is made up of communities of people who see
themselves as one people on the basis of common ancestry,
history, society, institutions, ideology, language, territory and
27 Walker Connor, The timelessness of nations in History and National Destiny, ed. Montserrate
Guibemau and John Hutchinson (Malden, Massachusetts: Blackwell Publishing, 2004), 38.
28 Anthony D. Smith, The Warwick Debates: Nations and Their Pasts,
29 Max Weber, The Nation, in Nationalism, eds. John Hutchinson and Anthony D. Smith, (New
York: Oxford University Press, 1994), 25.
30 Joseph Stalin, The Nation, in Ibid, 20.
31 Jyoti Puri Encountering Nationalism, (Malden: Blackwell Publishing, 2004), 31.
The above scholars believe an ethno-nation is tied to territory, whether or not it is to a
State.33 They believe territory, along with other factors, provides the community
needed to define a nation. However, territory is not essential for all people to be
considered nations.34 Ethno-nation implies a community of people sharing elements
in common: language, history, ancestry and culture. Due to the conflicting idea of the
need for territory in-order to be considered an ethno-nation, territory is left to often
within the definition.35
A term, often associated with the term nation, is ethnic. Ethnic is derived
from ethnos, the ancient Greek word for a nation. Thus ethnic is the sense of a
32 Nietschmann, supra note 3, 1.
33 Covenant of the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization, article 6(a) supports a nation
must contain territory. Sai Myo Win, Secession as an Ethnic Conflict Resolution: The Case of the
Shan States, Conference report: "The Implementation of the Right to Self-determination as a
Contribution to Conflict Prevention" Barcelona, November 21-27 1998, published by UNESCO Centre
of Catalonia. (9/25/2005).
34 The reasoning to decide that territory is not essential for an ethno-nations definition is two fold.
First, the requirement of territory is contested. Second, ethno-nations exist who do not rely on a
defined territory. Nomadic and peoples (such as the Romani) do not insist on a territory, but they do
consider themselves an ethno-nation. Thus it is my decision that although territory is used to define
several ethno-nations, not all require the attribute thus it should not be a fixed feature of the definition.
35 Two main theories of ethno-nations recognition exists: self recognition or international recognition.
Members of the ethno-nation may simply recognize others and the ethno-nation. The other theory is
that international organizations such as the UN may officially recognize ethno-nations and its
members. The UN has officially recognized several ethno-nations (UNESCO has recognized ethno-
nations such as the Romani). Other international organizations, such as the Council of Europe and the
Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Council, also recognize ethno-nations. Non-governmental
organizations also define ethno-nations, creating an element of national identity that can be impacted
by outside organizations. It is unclear if outside organizations defining ethno-nations is the norm.
people characterized by common descent; ethno can mean national.36
Ethnic awareness is a form of collective identity or membership in a
community that shares certain common attributes.36 37 An ethnic nation can be defined
as a peoples characterized by common descent with a sense of belonging. Barbara
Harff and Ted Robert Gurr argue that ethnic nations are:
Composed of people who share a distinctive and enduring
collective identity based on shared experiences and cultural
traits. They may define themselves, and may be defined by
others, in terms of any or all of the following traits: lifeways,
religious beliefs, language, physical appearance, region of
residence, traditional occupations, and a history of conquest
and repression by culturally different peoples.38
The definition of ethnic nation is similar to that of a nation.39
A term sometimes used synonymously with ethno-nations is peoples.40
A peoples is a self-defined group. A peoples considers itself
36 Win, supra note 33.
37 Milton J. Esman, An Introduction to Ethnic Conflict, (Maden: Polity, 2004), 8.
38 Barbara Harff and Ted Robert Gurr, Ethnic Conflict in World Politics, 2nd ed. (Boulder: Westview
Press, 2004), 222.
39 Nietschmann argues terms such as minorities and ethnic groups are often State-inspired non-people
identification for the actual names that national peoples call themselves and their countries. The term
ethnic group can be derogatory and perceived as an attempt to discredit an ethno-nations aspirations
and rights to self-determination. Thus no ethno-nation will be called an ethnic group. Nietschmann,
supra note 3, 4.
40 The term peoples is used five times between 1919 to 1945, in which the principle of self-
determination applied: a peoples living entirely within a State ruled by another; peoples living as
minorities in various countries without controlling a State of their own; a peoples living as a minority
group in a State but understanding themselves as forming part of the peoples of a neighboring State; a
peoples dispersed throughout many separate States; and a people who constitute a majority in a
territory under foreign domination. Hurst Hannum, Autonomy. Sovereignty, and Self-Determination:
The Accommodation of Conflicting Rights. (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania, 1990), 35.
Within the discussion of peoples it is unclear if an ethno-nation and a peoples are synonymous.
to be distinct from other peoples who are adjacent or distant,
who in turn may recognize the difference. According to the
International Commission of Jurists... a peoples has these
characteristics: (1) a common history, (2) racial or ethnic ties,
(3) cultural or linguistic ties, (4) religious or ideological ties,
(5) a common territory or geographical location, (6) a
common economic base, and (7) a sufficient number of
A continuous culture is a crucial attribute of an ethno-nation. An ethno-nation
has a similar culture; the peoples within the ethno-nation share the same knowledge,
beliefs, acts, morals, laws, customs, and habits. Humankind has two ways to pass
through time: civilization or culture. Civilization fosters a certain sense of time which
is composed of accumulation and progress, whereas the way in which an ethno-nation
develops its culture is based upon a law of fidelity.42 Culture..., is that complex
whole which includes knowledge, belief, act, morals, law, custom, and any other
capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society.43 A key component
of culture is rhetoric. According to Robert T. Oliver rhetoric is based on culture.44
41 Nietschmann, supra note 3,4. From Nietschmans definition and the definition of a nation provided
on page 11 of this thesis, there are corresponding elements between a peoples and an ethno-nation.
Yet for the international community such a direct correlation does not exist. Several theorists have
begun examining whether an ethno-nation is synonymous with a peoples. Nettheim, supra note 4.
42 Culture dies as soon as it is no longer renewed and recreated. If ethno-nations are unable to renew or
recreate its culture then its members risk nihilism for its members. Paul Ricoeur, History and Truth,
(Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1965), 281.
43 E.B. Taylor, Primitive Culture: Researchers into the Development of Mythology, Philosophy,
Religion, Language, Art and Custom, 5th ed., (London: J. Murray, 1929), 1.
44 If the culture changes then rhetoric will also change. Robert T. Oliver, Culture and Rhetoric:
Rhetoric and Non-Western Culture,
Cornell West argues that you must have identity to create meaning; humans
cannot exist in a nihilistic world.45 Ethno-nations provide cultural patterns: concrete
attitudes toward life, identity and meaning.46 Culture forms a system not radically
called into question by responsible people: attitudes toward tradition, change, our
behavior toward our fellow-citizens and foreigners, and the sum total of all goals.47
The international community has increasingly become concerned with culture
loss. The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide
The Contracting Parties confirm that genocide, whether
committed in time of peace or in time of war, is a crime under
international law which they undertake to prevent and to punish.
In the Present Convention, genocide means any of the following
acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a nation,
ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:.. .(b) Causing serious
bodily or mental harm to members of the group; (c) Deliberately
inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about
its physical destruction in whole or in part.48
45 Nihilism is defined as a position that argues the world, and especially human existence, is without
objective meaning, purpose, comprehensible tmth, or essential value. Cornell West, Nihilism in Black
America, in Race Matters, (New York: Vintage, 1994).
46 Cultural patterns are systems or complexes of symbols: the generic traits that are the intrinsic
sources of information. Intrinsic sources, unlike genes, lie outside the boundaries of the individual
organism. Clifford Geertz, Religion as a Cultural System, in Anthropological Approaches to the
Study of Religion M. Banton, ed., (New York: Praeger, 1966), 6.
47 Ricoeur, supra note 42, 278-79.
48 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, Articles 1 and 2,
(4/6/2006). Genocide can take the form of what the
anthropologists have called deculturation, and it can involve the disintegration of some or all of the
following: political and social institutions, culture, language, national feelings, religion, economic
stability, personal security, liberty, health, and dignity. Richard Arens, A Lawyers Summation, in
Richard Arens, ed., Genocide in Paraguay, (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1976), 137.
More recently, the UN passed the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of
Diversity of Cultural Expressions.49 The Convention declares a right to maintain,
adopt and implement policies and measures that they deem appropriate for the
protection and promotion of the diversity of cultural expressions on their territory.
The Draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples pursues to secure the
rights of indigenous peoples to protect such elements as their unique cultures.50
Theses conventions and draft declarations exhibit the increasing international concern
for cultural lose and its global effects.
Ethno-nations have also expressed concern for culture loss and some ethno-
nations will not be able to preserve their distinctive cultures unless they are accorded
special rights.51 The examples of ethno-national concerns of culture loss are
extensive. The indigenous peoples of Easter Island are concerned with the loss of
their language in younger generations because with lose of language means loss of
culture.52 The Uwa of Colombia is another example of ethno-national concerns of
49 The convention passed with a vote of 148 to 2. It will officially be ratified when 30 countries ratify
the convention. The convention is the fust international treaty designed to protect movies, music and
other cultural treasures from foreign competition. Molly Moore, UN Body Endorses Cultural
Protection US Objections are Turned Aside, Washington Post, (October 21, 2005).
50 UN Draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples,
51 Allen Buchanan, Secession: The Morality of Political Divorce from Fort Sumter to Lithuania and
Quebec, (Boulder: Westview Press, 1991), 39.
52 Easter Island Fears Loss of Culture, ABC News Online, 4 April 2005,
culture loss.53 The Uwa declared if oil drilling were to happen, they would commit
mass suicide. They believed if drilling were to happen and the Blood of Mother
Earth (there belief of oil) were taken then there culture would be destroyed. If there
culture was destroyed thus they would have nothing to live by.54 Preserving culture
has become an important agenda item of the international community.
The State is the major political unit in world politics. It goes by several
names: a country, a State, a nation-state. The State is important because international
distribution of resources and rights has been shaped by the idea that the State exists in
order to facilitate modernization.55 It is the key component in international politics.
The State, as an analytical concept of the world order, is a set of value-
allocating institutions through which a group of people can pursue shared political
goals. The State is the central political actor in the international arena, recognized by
other States, uses civilian and military bureaucracy to enforce one set of institutions,
laws and sometimes languages and religion within its claimed borders.56 It is viewed
as the representative of the people it rules; with or sometimes without the recognition
53 The Colombian government was prospecting the idea of allowing oil drilling companies, specifically
Occidental Petroleum Corp, in Uwa territory.
54 Ultimately the Colombian government decided not to drill for the oil. Update on Uwa-Columbian
Court Halts Oil Drilling, 31 March 2000, (2/3/2006).
55 Franke Wilmer, The Indigenous Voice in World Politics, (Newbury Park: Sage Publications, 1993),
56 Nietschmann, supra note 3, 1.
of the people it governs.57 58
The State is a modem phenomenon (comparatively to that of the ethno-
nation). Its existence is traced to the theorists Nicolo Machiavelli, Jean Bodin and
Thomas Hobbes and the Treaty of Westphalia of 1648. The word State derives from
an Italian term, lo stato, coined by Machiavelli to describe the whole of the social
hierarchy that governs and rules a country. Bodin conceives the State as absolute
and unitary, possessing the ultimate power to command obedience through its
monopoly on the legitimate use of violence.59 Hobbes book, Leviathan,
discusses the need for a State and its protection of citizens from internal and external
danger. The modem State grew from European kingdoms, overseas colonialism,
and the division of large colonial empires into smaller and smaller neo-colonial
pieces.60 The 1933 Montevideo Convention on Rights and duties of States, Article
The State as a person of international law should possess
the following qualifications: (a) a permanent population;
(b) a defined territory; (c) government; and (d) capacity to
57 Ibid, 3.
58 Peter Ravn Rasmussen, Nations or States an attempt at Definition,
http//: www.scholiast.oni/nations/whatisanation.htm I (11/6/2005).
59 Jean Bodin, on Sovereignty: Four Chapters From the Six Books of Commonwealth, trans. Julian
Franklin (1576; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992) in Glenn T. Morris, Vine Deloria, Jr.,
and the Development of Decolonizing Critique of Indigenous Peoples and International Relations,
Richard A. Grounds, George E. Tinker and David E. Wilkins eds., Native Voices: American Indian
Identity and Resistance, (University Press of Kansas, 2003), 131.
60 Kathy Seton, Fourth World Nations in the Era of Globalization: An Introduction to Contemporary
theorizing Posed by Indigenous Nations Center for World Indigenous Studies, 1999.
enter into relations with other States.61
A State is considered successful if it is endowed with political goods. The
hierarchy of political goods is:
Security. This is the States primary function. It
provides a framework through which all other political
goods can be delivered.
Law. A system of codes and procedures which regulate
the interactions of the population and sets the standards
Medical and Health care.
Schools and Educational Instruction.
A money and banking system.
A business environment.
A forum for civil society.
A method of regulating environmental commons.62
Joel S. Migdal postulates a strong State must have the capacity to: penetrate society,
regulate social relationships, extract resources and appropriate or use resources in
Sovereignty is a term often associated with the State. Sovereignty means
supreme authority and is synonymous with the terms: autonomy, independence and
equality amongst the States.64 Sovereignty is a complex of rights recognized by
61 Montevideo Convention, (5/2/2006).
62 John Robb, Weak, Failed and Collapsed States, Saturday, May 01, 2004,
http://globalguernllas.tvpedpad.coni/globalguemllas/2004/05/failed states.html. (4/11/2006).
63 Joel S. Migdal, Strong Societies and Weak States: State-Society Relations and State Capabilities in
the Third World, (Princeton New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1988), 4.
64 The modem concept of sovereignty originates from Bodins theories and the Treaty of Westphalia.
international law. Sovereign States are hypothetically free from foreign interference
in its domestic matters.63 65
Unique characteristics of a sovereign State are: 1) in a given territory, only
one sovereign exists66, 2) sovereignty does not mean equality of rights and
obligations, 3) sovereignty is not actual independence in political, military, economic
or technical matters; the sovereigns must simply have the legal authority to exercise
the power, 4) dependence on other States does not eliminate sovereignty67 68 and 5)
sovereignty of the State as the law-enforcing agent is identical with sovereignty in the
judicial field. Mainstream thought contends that sovereignty is an attribute of
Statehood and only States can be sovereign.69 Though sovereignty is often associated
with States, an increasing number of ethno-nations assert claims to sovereignty.
A State and ethno-nation differ on numerous levels. The State is the primary
source of coercion, while ethno-nations rarely control such power.70 The State is the
primary actor in international relations, while ethno-nations contain little recognized
63 Hedley Bull, The Anarchical Society: A Study of Order in World Politics (New York: Columbia
University Press, 1977), 8.
66 Ibid, 8.
67 Morgenthau, Politics Among Nations: The Struggle for Power and Peace, (New York: Borzoi,
Alfred A. Knopf, 1948), 248.
68 Ibid, 245.
69 Hannum, supra note 40, 15.
70 Gurr and Harff, supra note 38, 6.
international power.71 Third, though several ethno-nations have a defined territory,
not all require such; each State, by definition, must have a territory. The State is the
legally recognized international sovereign power, while ethno-nations have no such
standing.72 Fifth, ethno-nations have a continuous culture, while States rarely posses
such. Finally, ethno-nations, by definition, are ethnically homogenous, while States
are often ethnically heterogeneous.73
Self-determination is understood to be a fundamental right in human rights
and natural law.74 Self-determination is a right which holds that any peoples, simply
because it considers itself to be a separate ethno-nation, is uniquely and exclusively
qualified to determine its own political status, including, should it so desire, the right
to its own State. The concept, therefore, makes ethno-nationality the ultimate
standard of political legitimacy.75
71 Ethno-nations such as the Palestinians, East Timorese, Kurds, and Irish Catholics have been able to
grab the attention of the international world, yet these instances seem to be the exception.
77 When nations do have recognized sovereign power in international law it is because nations have
joined the collective of States.
73 Nation-states (Iceland, Western Samoa, Poland, Korean and a handful more) do exist yet these are a
rarity. Nietschmann, supra note 3, 3.
74 Karen Parker Understanding Self-Determination: The Basics, in The Right to Self-Determination:
Collected Papers & Proceedings of the First International Conference on the Right to Self-
Determination & The United Nations Geneva 2000, eds., Y.N. Kly and D. Kly. (Geneva: Clarity Press
75 Walker Connor, The Political Significance of Ethnonationalism Within Western Europe, in Abdul
Said and Luiz R. Simmons eds., Ethnicity in an International Context (New Brunswick, NJ: 1976)
111-112 citied in Hannum, supra note 38, 7.
Suzette Bronkhorst offers one concept of self-determination:
Self-determination is the right of a people or ethnic group
to choose its own government, form of state and rank in
the row of nations. Without qualification, this term includes
all form of self-determination, whether
it be external, internal, corporate or cultural self-
At its most basic level, self-determination is the ability to determine ones own future.
Self-determination is essentially a right of peoples,77 and not the right of
individuals or States. For purposes of this thesis, I purpose that a variety of ethno-
nations have the right to determine how their manifestation of self-determination.78
Several statements within the United Nations Charter and resolutions uphold
the right of peoples self-determination. According to the United Nations Charter
Chapter I Article 1, Section 2 The purposes of the United Nations are:.. .to develop
friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and
self-determination of peoples.. .79 Articles 1 and 55 of the Charter affirm the right of
76 Suzette Bronkhorst, Self-determination-People, Territory, Nationalism & Human rights: Thoughts
on the Situation of South Moluccans, Roma & Sinti, in The Right to Self-Determination: Collected
Papers & Proceedings of the First International Conference on the Right to Self-Determination & The
United Nations Geneva 2000. eds., Y.N. Kly and D. Kly, (Geneva: Clarity Press Inc. 2000), 94.
77 Hector Gros Espiell,The Right of Self-Determination: Implementation of United Nations
Resolutions, special rapporteur of the Sub-commission on Prevention of Discrimination and
Protection of Minorities, (New York: United Nations, 1980), 9, paragraph 56.
78 As stated on page 15 the definition of peoples is very similar to the definition of ethno-nation.
Because of this, several ethno-nations meet the definition of peoples. If they meet the definition of a
peoples then they should be accorded the right to self-determination under the guidelines of
79 United Nations Charter, supra note 5.
The right of self-determination appears in several international Covenants.
First, the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Peoples Political Rights, Article 1
(paragraph 1) states: All peoples have the right of self-determination. By virtue of
that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic,
social and cultural development. Identical wording appears in the International
Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the World Conference on
Human Rights on June 25, 1993.80 The implementation of the right of peoples to
self-determination involves not only the completion of the process of achieving
independence or other appropriate legal status by the peoples under colonial and alien
domination, but also the recognition of their right to maintain, assure and perfect their
full legal, political, economic, social and cultural sovereignty.81
According to General Assembly Resolution 1514, Article 2, All peoples have
the right to self-determination; by virtue of that right they freely determine their
political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.82
The same wording appears in Article 3 of the UN Draft Declaration on the Rights of
Indigenous peoples.83 Under General Assembly Resolution 1541 Principle VIII:
The associated territory should have the right to determine
80 Win, supra note 33.
81 Espiell jupra note 77, 8, paragraph 8.
82 Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, General Assembly
1514 (XV) 14 December 1960, (5/2/06).
83 UN Draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, supra note 50.
its internal constitution without outside interference, in
accordance with due constitutional processes and the freely
expressed wishes of the people. This does not preclude
consultations as appropriate or necessary under the terms
of the free association agreed upon.84
Most discussions of self-determination begin with an attempt to understand
the components of the self. There are several characteristics of the self by which
peoples may distinguish themselves from other international organizations by:
ethnicity, linguistics, history, geography, economics, or religion.85
Lenin and Stalin embraced the rhetoric of self-determination, viewing self-
determination associated with Marxist precepts of class liberation.86 Lenin describes
the right to independence in the political sense, the right to free
political separation from the oppressor nation. Specifically, this
demand for political democracy implies complete freedom to
agitate for secession and for the decision on secession to be made
by a referendum of the seceding nation. This demand for
separation, fragmentation, and the formation of small State. It
implies only a consistent expression of struggle against all national
The League of Nations regarded the long-term fate of most minorities to be
84 Principles Which Should Guide Members in Determining Whether or not an Obligation exists to
transmit the Information Called for Under Article 73 e of the Charter, General Assembly Resolution
1541 (XV) 16 December 1960, (5/2/06).
85 Hannum, supra note 40, 31.
86 Though Lenin and Stalin associated self-determination with class liberation, they did not view that
peoples would have to join the class struggle.
87 V.I. Lenin, Questions of National Policy and Proletarian Internationalism, (Moscow: Foreign
Languages Publishing House, n.d.) 138-139.
incorporation into a majority ethno-nation through assimilation. The process was to
be more gradual and tolerable for ethno-nations. The League settled on an
understanding of self-determination that left ethno-nations no room for further claims
of self-determination.88 Current international ethno-national protection norms
identify ethno-national protection as defense from State-imposed assimilation.89
In part because of the inconsistent manner in which the principle of self-
determination was applied following World War I, it was not initially recognized as a
fundamental right during the 1945 establishment of the United Nations.90 The UN
has made the following limited determinations as to the nature of the right to self-
determination. Self-determination is a collective right of peoples.91 Self-
determination is not a right of minorities, groups or States. Initially, international law
was concerned only with the rights and duties of independent sovereigns,
disregarding humanity beyond the sovereign. Under the modem rubric of human
rights, however, international law increasingly is concerned with upholding rights
deemed to inhere in human beings individually as well as collectively.92 A number of
88 Maria M. Kovacs, Standards of self-determination and standards of minority-rights in the post-
communist era: a historical perspective, Nations and Nationalism 9, no. 3, (2003): 437.
90 Hannum, supra note 40, 33.
91 Please note that though self-determination is seen as a right which concerns individuals, it is not
considered a right of individuals. Minority Rights Group, Report #73: Minorities and Human Rights
Law (London: Expedite Graphics, Ltd., May 1987), 5.
countries admit the existence of various ethno-nations and proclaim the ethno-nations
have equal rights with members of the majority population within the State.92 93
Self-determination implies a continuing process, but it does not demand
absolute (or full) autonomy, sovereignty or even western-style democracy.94 It may
include elections, plebiscites, the voluntary division of a State or free cession of
territory or another State if the inhabitants desire. These are peaceful forms of
determination. Rebellion, insurrection, revolution, secession and movements for
colonial liberation are more violent tools to achieve self-determination.95
State of Ethno-Nations in the Status Quo
Ethno-nations, conflict and their struggle to find a place in the world have
become prevailing issues in political science. The struggles have shaped into ethno-
national violence and indigenous activism. 1990 census figures approximate 223
politically salient ethno-nations exist.96 Most ethno-nations live in relative peace with
the State yet several struggle with States. The struggle between ethno-nations and
States is characterized by the phrase ethno-national conflict.
Conflict does not automatically connote violence. Conflict refers to
S. James Anaya, Indigenous Peoples in International Law, 2 edt, (New York: Oxford University
Press, 2004), 99.
93 Hannum, supra note 40, 63.
94 Buchheit, supra note 2, 9.
95 Ibid, 13.
96 Milton J. Esman. An Introduction to Ethnic Conflict, (Polity, Malden, 2004) 5.
competition among groups for power, resources, opportunities, status, or respect,
competition that is usually pursued and adjusted by peaceful means, but under some
circumstances turn violent.97 98 The conflict can be generated over competing claims to
territory because some claim homeland status (because their ancestors have
occupied the territory for generations), some believe they should be entitled to greater
rights and enjoy a superior moral claim (because they are aboriginal peoples such as
Malay in Malaysia), or some call for specific territory their own (because they are
concentrated in that territory) The conflict can also be generated because of
economics clashes over access to, control over, and the enjoyment of, economic
resources. Cultural issues can also spark conflict such as language and religion.
Discrimination of ethno-nations by the powering group (whether it be the State or
another ethno-nation) can cause conflict.
Ethno-nations whose status is of greatest concern in international politics are
those targets of discrimination and have organized to take political action to promote
or defend their interests.99 One way ethno-nations are organizing is through ethno-
national violence. Ethno-national violence has increased steadily from a handful of
97 Ibid, 6.
98 Ibid, 10-11.
99 Nietschmann, supra note 3, 4.
conflicts in the early 1950s to involving over 31 States in the early 1990s.100
When ethno-nations take up arms to defend themselves, the world is
unprepared to accept such behavior. Every peoples will defend its identity and
territory from breakup and eradication and this idea seems to be lost. When ethno-
nations enter into military action to protect themselves they are often labeled by
States as: terrorist, rebels, separatists, extremists, dissidents, insurgents, tribals, or
Ethno-national violence can also happen between differing ethno-nations,
ethno-nations verses insurgencies or between ethno-nations and States.102 The vast
majority of wars worldwide are between States and ethno-nations.103 This form of
violence will often cross State boundaries and can lead to mass human rights
violations such as genocide. Because the violence crosses State borders and
potentially destroys the core of humanity, the international community will often
However, the international community is having difficulty finding answers to
ethno-national violence. Quick answers, to solve ethno-national violence, do not
exist; the violence challenges traditional thinking forms. Ethnic identity and conflict
100 Harff and Gun, supra note 38, 1.
101 Nietschmann, supra note 3, 4.
102 Nietschmann labels such conflicts as the Third World War.
103 Ibid, 7.
have been around for centuries: suggesting explanations for todays ethnic conflict
should not be sought in terms of post-Cold War factors.104
The emergence of an international indigenous voice indicates a change in the
flow and distribution of power and the context in which responsiveness occurs.105
Indigenous peoples have ceased to be mere objects of the discussion of their rights
and have become real participants.106 Indigenous peoples are besieged because the
values of their cultures are regarded as antithetical to the values pursued in the
dominant modem world order. Their victimization is rationalized in language casting
their way of life as morally inferior and an obstacle to the realization of progress (the
economic expansion of modernizing societies).107 108 Indigenous activism challenges the
normative basis of international politics, asserting that the rights of sovereignty do not
belong exclusively to States. Ethno-nations
are temporally united through their histories and traditions.
They are spatially united through their powerful links to their
land and water territories. Their struggles for self-determination
are struggles to retain and/or regain cultural solidarity which
IM Walker Connor, A Few Cautionary Notes on Ethnonational Conflicts, supra note 20, 27.
105 Wilmer, supra note 55, 40.
106 S. James Anya, International Law and U.S. Trust Responsibility toward Native Americans, in
Richard A. Grounds, George E. Tinker and David E. Wilkins, eds., Native Voices: American Indian
Identity and Resistance, (University Press of Kansas, 2003), 165.
107 Wilmer, supra note 55, 6.
108 Ibid, 32.
unite them as a distinct people.109
Indigenous peoples resistance to colonialism and imperialism has been
ongoing since the earliest periods of colonialism, yet key events in the last century are
important to understanding current indigenous activities.110 When the League of
Nations was formed, several indigenous peoples leaders tried, but failed, to marshal
international support for the protection of rights guaranteed by treaties. The matter,
they were told, belonged in the sphere of domestic politics; they were to go home and
deal directly with their governments.111 A resurgence of indigenous activism started
in the 1970s with the formation of the World Council of Indigenous Peoples.112
Also, in 1970 the U.N. Commission on Human Rights Sub-Commission on
Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities called for a study of the
problems of indigenous peoples; the study was completed in 1981. 1982, the U.N.
commission on Human Rights created a Working Group on Indigenous
109 Kathy Seton, Fourth World Nations in the Era of Globalization: An Introduction to Contemporary
Theorizing Posed by Indigenous Nations Fourth World Journal, Center for World Indigenous
Studies, 1999. (1/30/20061.
'10 Makere Stewart-Harawira, The New Imperial Order: Indigenous Responses to Globalization, (New
York: Zed Books, 2005), 115.
111 Ibid, 15.
112 The council was created through contacts among leaders from North American Indian communities,
Scandinavian Saami, New Zealand Maoris, and Australian Aboriginal. The council became the first of
eleven non-govemmental international organizations, representing indigenous peoples, to receive
representative status in 1987.
Populations.113 114 1991, the Working Group agreed on a draft set of principles to be
incorporated into a proposed international declaration: Universal Declaration on the
Rights of Indigenous Peoples."4
113 Meeting yearly since then, it has worked toward the development of a draft set of principles on the
rights of indigenous peoples.
114 Wilmer, supra note 55, 2-3.
THE STATE AND THE ETHNO-NATION
Among the ranks of indigenous peoples a discussion has begun
that calls into question the usefulness of forcing indigenous
reality into the forms developed by Europeans.115
Nineteenth century theorists saw only two possibilities for Stateless ethno-
nations. First, ethno-nations to evaporate into the dominant culture: assimilation.116
The other, examined in this chapter, is ethno-nations developing into States; a theorist
solution to ethno-national conflict was/is granting Statehood to the opposing sides.
Two approaches exist in viewing the solution to ethno-national conflict: one is the
Western view of the States as the ultimate form of political organization; the other is
to view the world as several ethno-nations/ decentralized.117 These two views often
conflict with each other and elements of the State system do not always correspond
with elements of ethno-nations and their culture. After examining the theory of why
ethno-nations may not correspond to the structure of the State, two ethno-nations and
115 Seton, supra note 109.
116 David Maybury-Lewis, Indigenous Peoples, Ethnic Groups and the State,.(Needham Heights: Allyn
and Bacon, 1997), 130.
117 The Indigenous Peoples Network (IPN) hopes in the future to achieve recognition of a world view
distinct from the West, distinct from the 'left and the right. Wilmer, supra note 55, 18.
their struggles for Statehood will be explored.
Statehood for ethno-nations can muddle the distinction between ethno-nations
and the western political systems. The present world order was designed by
European elites and, subsequent to the colonial period, by non-Europeans, former
colonies that were willing to act as agents to spread European values and
1 1 o .
incorporation into the world system. Because ethno-nations are subjected to the
sovereign authority of States, claims of self-determination challenge status quo
exercises of State sovereignty.118 119 Ethno-nations can challenge the normative basis of
international politics, that is, the legitimacy of political incorporation and cultural
assimilation as an exercise of State sovereignty, the indigenous movement is a kind of
social revolutionary movement taking place on a global scale.120
Disadvantages to Statehood
Ethno-nationals experience of Western culture has been as peoples
dominated, subjected, terrorized, and brutally attacked on physical, emotional and
spiritual levels.121 Statehood is not inherently a resolution to the causes of ethno-
national conflict and self-determination. Elements of ethno-nations and the State
structure do not always correspond, hampering the resolution of ethno-national
118 Ibid, 7.
119 Seton, supra note 109.
120 Wilmer, supra note 55, 42.
121 Ibid, 193.
conflict. This section examines elements of the State structure that do not necessarily
relate to ethno-nations and their culture.122
Statehood for all is not a viable solution for self-determination. According to
Monaham a system of two-hundred newly created States would be nonfunctioning;
the new order would create chaos.123 Ethno-nations may be too small to develop into
viable States. In an attempt to establish more viable, stable, small States, ethno-
nations will try to increase their economic development.124 However, ethno-national
cultural, social, political, and physical integrity can be directly attacked in the name
of State development.125
Statehood is a complicated process. Disputes about boundaries, resources and
populations complicate the process. These disputes often re-escalate violence (such
as the case of Eritrea-Ethiopia).126 There are concerns about building infrastructure,
creating an economy and a viable government, establishing schools, a justice system
and hospitals, rebuilding a country after conflict, and helping victims of violence: the
differing criteria for a strong State. These varying concerns can be overwhelming for
122 This section is not meant to be a condemnation of States but instead an exploration of the problems
with assuming that States and ethno-nations values correspond with each other.
123 Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Pandemonium: Ethnicity in international Politics, (New York: Oxford
University Press, 1993).
124 According to Robb three aspects of a strong State are a critical infrastructure, money and banking
system, and a business environment. Robb, supra note 62.
125 Wilmer, supra note 55, 37.
126 This case study is examined further in this chapter.
a new State.
A new State can still generate minorities. The purpose of creating a nation-
state is establishing a one ethno-nation State, free of other ethno-nations.127 However,
even with specifically drawn lines, a great likelihood exists that a minority will exist
in the newly created State.
Patterned inequality and discrimination, usually reinforced
by public policy, is argued by some analysts to be the greatest
predictor of violence in ethnic conflicts. Once parties seize
control of the State, they often manipulate the allocation of
resources to the exclusive advantage of their group, further
exacerbating tensions.128 129
Even though States were established to create a safe realm for ethno-nations, States
often fail to do so. States and the leadership are able to create a system which they
can easily be corrupted.
States cannot always replace ethno-nations. The State is not an appropriate
mechanism for the satisfaction of the fundamental human need for identity and
culture; it is unable to cope with differing aspects of the soul.130 The existence of
12? appearance 0f national minorities was a direct consequence of the drive to create nation-
states. Jean-Amault Derens, Winners and Losers Among the Minority Groups in Former
128 Timothy D. Sisk, Power Sharing and International Mediation in Ethnic Conflicts, (Washington
D.C.: United States Institute of Peace, 1999), 18.
129 This is further explored in the case of Eritrea and its president.
130 The State will try to replace the ethno-nation through concepts such as patriotism.
ethno-nations is ancient; comparatively States are a modem construct.131 More than
three-fourths of the Fourth World wars are ethno-nations vs. States: suggesting that
there may be something endemic to the nature of the State that is unable to
accommodate and fulfill inherent human needs.132 If, after four centuries, the most
powerful States (United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand) have been
unsuccessful in eliminating, absorbing, integrating or assimilating the least powerful
indigenous ethno-nations, then culture is much more vital and enduring than generally
assumed in the past.133
The priorities of ethno-nations and States can and generally do, diverge. One
divergence concerns economic assumptions. One goal of States is to expand their
economy; while for several ethno-nations the purpose is subsistence living.134 Davi
Kopenawa Yanomami showed insight of the international political economy of
several ethno-nations as compared to State economies in a letter entitled To All
People of the Earth:
The government.. .thinks of us as animals... The same thing
happened in other places, with our Indian brothers in North
America... The government doesnt know our ways, and our
ways of thinking.. .The government only understands this
131 Nietschmann, supra note 3, 1.
132 If the State was able to replace the ethno-nation then there would be no need for the ethno-nation.
Seton, supra note 109.
133 Wilmer, supra note 55, 21.
134 This is not to state that every ethno-nation does not want to see its economy grow, but there are
several ethno-nations for whom its economy is at the level of basic sustainability.
business of money.. .Our interest is in preserving the Earth.135
Though this is only a representation of the ethno-nations, there is an emphasis is on
surviving in partnership with the Earth. Ethno-nations can challenge the elevation of
materialistic over environmental and human priorities.136 Carrie Dann stated How in
this society can they own land? In reality earth will take us when we die.137 The
concepts of land possession and material needs can vary from the needs of the State
to the needs of the ethno-nation. By placing materialistic priorities over
environmental or human priorities then the likelihood of culture loss is greatly
Sustainable development means meeting the basic needs for
subsistence in partnership with nature. It means maintaining a
spiritual and reciprocal relationship with nature and all living
creatures and non-living things in it. They cannot abuse nature
because it is tantamount to abusing themselves or abusing their
mothers but also because their needs are very simple and the
indigenous technologies, skills and processes they have
developed are appropriate and in harmony with nature.138
This does not mean there arent ethno-nations that seek to establish growing
economies, or survive under more Statist standards. It does, however, show that not
all ethno-nations desire to live under a State system that potentially destroys their
135 Wilmer, supra note 55, 38.
136 Ibid, 17.
137 Carrie Dann, What Price Gold? Conference on Mining and Indigenous Peoples, University of
Colorado- Denver, Tivoli Student Union Room 320, Monday, April 24th 2006.
138 V. Tauli-Corpuz, An indigenous peoples perspective on environment and development, IWGIA
Newsletter 1: 3-7 in Seton, supra note 109.
Ethno-nations Achieving Statehood
Though the theory exhibits a chance for the view of States and ethno-nations
to conflict, it does not necessarily correlate to the world we live in. To further
explore if ethno-nations and State systems do not correspond two case studies will be
examined: Eritrea and East Timor. Within the past decade and a half two new States
were created after ethno-national struggles: Eritrea and East Timor. Each State was
created after years of ethno-national struggles for self-determination. This next
section is meant to examine whether the State system allows for ethno-national
identity to thrive after achieving Statehood.
The Eritrean independence movement is an absorbing subject for the study of
self-determination and the settlement of ethno-national conflict through separation.139
For three decades Eritrea waged an armed political revolution to establish an
independent State.140 Over a thirty-year period the separation of the Eritrea from
139 The term separatists is being used instead of secession because secession has a clear definition.
Secession is an attempt to resolve a domestically based territorial dispute by dividing a countrys
homeland territory into new, secessionist and rump States. Ethno-national peoples are groups who
are struggling for more than territory; they are struggling to live. Secession is but one form of
separatism. Jaroslav Tir, Keeping the Peace after Secession: Territorial Conflicts between Rump
and Secessionist States, Journal of Conflict Resolution 49, No. 5, (October 2005): 713.
140 The Eritrean population is composed of nine distinct ethnic and linguistic groups; it is further
divided among a modem urban elite, and settled farmers, and nomadic and semi-nomadic (seasonal)
pastoralists. Half are Christian and almost half Muslim and remaining small groups form a minority
that practice traditional religions.140 Dan Connell, Against all Odds. A Chronicle of the Eritrean
Revolution, (Trenton: The Red Sea Press, 1993), 5.
Ethiopia changed from a completely unthinkable option to the preferred solution.141
History and Background
Eritrea and Ethiopia have a similar history. Both came to exist in their present
borders in the nineteenth century, with the advent of colonialism. Prior to then, the
Afar portions of Eritrea were ruled by federated sultans of the Afar people. The
southern plateau region was a semi-autonomous region often ruled by Abyssinian
kings from Northern Ethiopia; the North-Eastern and Western parts of Eritrea were
under the Ottoman Empire from fifteenth to nineteenth centuries. Prior to that,
autonomous kingdoms of the Beja people that linked this part of Eritrea with Eastern
Sudan existed. Thus, any Ethiopian claim over Eritrea on historical ground in the
1940s was problematic.142
The Italian colonization of Eritrea was part of the larger European attempt to
scramble for Africa to absorb Africa.143 Italy began its acquisitions of the area
starting in 1869, with the establishment of Assab.144 The Italians consolidated their
coastal and inland positions in the North, and formally named the area Eritrea in
141 Sandra F. Joireman, Secession and its Aftermath Eritrea, in Ulrich Schneckerener and Sefan
Wolff, eds., Managing and Settling Ethnic Conflicts: Perspectives on Successes and Failures in
Europe, Africa and Asia, (New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2004), 176.
142 Robert Mchida, Eritrea: The Struggle for Independence, (Trenton: The Red Sea Press, 1987), 5.
143 Ibid, 16.
144 Ibid, 15.
1890.145 From 1890 to the beginning of the 20th century, Italy entered into small
scrimmages with the bordering territories.
UN Resolution 390 A (V) 1950 imposed Ethio-Eritrean Federation as a
compromise between those who supported Eritrean self-determination (Eritrean
Muslims and the Socialist Bloc) and those who wanted Eritrean union with Ethiopia
(Eritrean Christians, USA, and the UK advocated partition of Eritrea to be part of
Anglo-Egyptian, Sudan, and Ethiopia).146 The federation was unilaterally abolished
by Ethiopia, igniting Eritrean anger and launching a national liberation struggle in
1958, evolving into full-fledged armed struggle by 1961, and culminated in 1991 with
a military defeat of Ethiopia and a declaration of Eritrean independence.147
Creation of the Eritrean Peoples Liberation Front
After the abolishment of the federalist system, the Eritrean Liberation Front
(ELF) was created. ELF developed into the Eritrean Peoples Liberation Front
(EPLF).148 The EPLFs original claims were modest: restoration of the federal
arrangement. Realizing Ethiopians would not consider allowing Eritrean autonomy,
146 Prior to the UN vote on the Ethio-Eritrean Federation, Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia met with
President Franking D. Roosevelt to discuss the union of Eritrea to Ethiopia. Cold War at a Glance,
147 James C.N. Paul, Ethnicity and the New Constitutional Orders of Ethiopia and Eritrea, in Yash
Ghai, Autonomy and Ethnicity: negotiating Competing Claims in Multi-Ethnic States, (New York:
Cambridge University Press, 2000) 175, and Machida, supra note 142.
148 Paul, 32.
claims changed in the 1970s to independence. In 1980, Basil Davidson wrote:
If colonized African peoples have justly claimed and justly
exercised the right to be free, and to build within colonial
frontiers new nations of their own resuming the development
of their past history, then why should this right be denied to
the Eritreans? They were colonized... in exactly the same
way and in more or less exactly the same years as the rest
of the continent.. .What today is so special about the
Eritrean case except that they happen to be colonized by
an African, not a European, power?149
A social consciousness among the Eritrean people began; they saw a difference
among Eritreans and Ethiopians, and they used their perceived difference to claim
The EPLF transformed into a professionally run and self-reliant ethno-
nationalist movement, creating a formal and centralized leadership.150 The EPLF
used available resources, forging shared national interest and followed flexible and
innovative strategies to take advantage of the internal crisis of the Ethiopian state.151
The EPLF claimed sovereignty over the former Italian colony of Eritrea and claimed
the right to establish an independent State.152
The Struggle for Statehood
149 Basil Davidson, in James Firebrace with Stuart Holland MP, Never Kneel Down: Drought,
Development and Liberation in Eritrea, (Trenton: The Red Sea Press, 1985), 24.
150 Tekle Mariam, Woldemikael Political Mobilization and Nationalist Movements: The Case of the
Eritrean Peoples Liberation Front, Africa Today: Eritrea: An Emerging New Nation in Africa s
Troubled Horn? 38, (No. 2. 2nd Quarter. 1991): 31.
151 During this time the Soviet Union was backing Eritrean claims, while the US was supporting the
Ethiopian government. Ibid.
152 Woldemikael, 31-32.
The Eritrean struggle awakened Ethiopian radical student movements and
army challenges of the absolutist monarchEmperor Haile Sellassie. These
challenges to the monarch caused the abduction of Sellassie: making it even harder
for the government to control nationalist movements.
The Eritrean liberation struggle led to a failed coup detat by General
Menghistu Naway in December 1960. By 1974 the Eritrean armed struggle spread to
all parts of rural Eritrea. Famine, calls for self-determination and a vibrant student
movement began to take shape and led to widespread protest in Ethiopia. These
events led the Ethiopian Army generals, led by Aman Andom, on September of 1974,
to overthrow Selassie and end the rule of the Solomonite dynasty.153 Fighting spread
to inside Ethiopia.154
The Last Drive for Self-Determination
In May 1991, Eritrean and Ethiopian movements defeated the derg military
and began a new phase. In 1993, Eritrea held a national popular referendum on
whether to declare independence. The UN Observer Mission to Verify the Eritrean
153 The new government was called the Provisional Military Administrative Council or Derg. The
Derg government went on to transform Ethiopian into a Socialist State. In 1977 the US cut ties with
the Derg government and began to support Eritrean claims. That same year the Soviet Union began to
back the Derg government. Cold War at a Glance, supra note 146.
154 One of the largest Ethiopian driving forces was the Ethiopian Peoples Revolutionary Democratic
Front (EPRDF). It is an alliance of various organizations, including the Oromo Peoples Democratic
Organization, the Amhara National Democratic Movement, and the Tigary peoples Liberation Front.
Currently the EPRDF currently holds 472 of 527 seats in the Council of Peoples Representatives.
Ethiopian Peoples Revolutionary Democratic Front,
Referendum (UNOVER) was established.155 99.81% of the Eritrean people voted for
independence. The UN, Ethiopia and the rest of the world recognized Eritrean
In 1993 a provisional government was legally established. Through a national
conference, the EPLF converted itself into the Peoples Front for Democracy and
Justice (PFDJ).156 In 1994 a broad-based Constitutional Commission was created.
The constitution of Eritrea recognized ethnic, regional and religious pluralism, but
these peoples, as a result of their collective exercise of self-determination, are now a
single nation guided by the principle of unity in diversity.157 158
Statehood did not have the intended consequence of eliminating conflict. If
anything, violence between Eritrea and Ethiopia has increased. Ethiopia lost its
coastline, meaning it would have to go through Eritrea in-order to continue its
trade.159 Ethiopia had a particular incentive to contest the loss of land because it was
155 Pursuant to General Assembly resolution 47/114 of December 16th 1992, giving full legitimacy to
the referendum and its outcome.
156 All other political organizations were quietly suppressed. Dan Connel, Conversations with
Eritrean Political Prisoners, (Trenton, New Jersey : The Red Sea Press, 2005).
157 Paul, supra note 147, 173-174.
158 Sandra F. Joireman, supra note 141, 176.
159 Hans van der Splinter Background to the border dispute between Eritrea and Ethiopia, 2001.
viewed as a decrease States power.160 In 1998, a resurgence of violence between
Ethiopia and Eritrea occurred over a strip of disputed territory.161 The boundary
separating the two countries is an arbitrary line.162 The area is a scrap of desolate
highland territory along the northern border.163 In 2000 the two countries agreed to
a cease fire, under the auspices of the UN.164 In the end, the war killed an estimated
In 2001, Eritrean debate erupted over the conduct of leadership and
government policy. Much of the dissatisfaction was directed at President Isasis
Afewerki, who refused to implement a newly ratified Constitution, permit the
formation of political parties, conduct national elections, or allow a critique of the
Border War. On September 18-19 2001, the national conversation abruptly ended
when the government arrested eleven of its most prominent critics, shut down the
private press, and smothered all public political discussion.166 Since its independence,
Eritrea has not held elections. The West has accused Eritrea of restricting freedom
160 Jarolav Tir, Keeping the peace after Secession: Territorial conflicts between Rump and
Secessionist StatesJournal of Conflict Resolution 49, No. 5, (October 2005): 717.
161 Esman, supra note 96, 178.
162 The product of Italys colonial territory. Paul, supra note 147, 174.
163 Errors in the maps used to mark the border in a set of nineteenth century Ethio-Italian treaties
created this long ignored problem. Ibid, 175.
164 The UN is there to this day.
165 Paul, supra note 147, 175.
166 Dan Connel, Conversations with Eritrean Political Prisoners, (Trenton, New Jersey: The Red Sea
Press, 2005) book description.
of religion and expression.167 Since 2003, independent non-governmental
organizations (including Amnesty International) have not been allowed in.168 Few
foreign journalists are allowed in (with the exception of the British Broadcasting
Corporation) and travel inside the country by diplomats, and international
organizations are restricted.169
On October 2, 2005 President Isasis Afewerki refused the UN permission to
fly peacekeeping helicopters in Eritrean airspace. It is possible that Eritrea made such
a move to force the international community to pressure Ethiopia to accept the 2002
ruling on the border.170 Beyond this, both Eritrea and Ethiopia are steadily building
forces along the border. Since December of 2004, Ethiopia has deployed up to seven
army divisions and ignored UN requests to withdraw.171
Eritrea has been active in crushing separatist movements in the country: one
167 Anthony Mitchell, Eritrea-Ethiopia Standoff Continues,
168 The legitimate role of human rights defenders is not recognized.
169 Eritrea: You have no right to ask-Government resists scrutiny on human rights, Amnesty
170 Tsegaye Tadesse, Ethiopia says Eritrea building up troops on border 19 October 2005,
such example involves the Afars.172 The Afars, because of their desire to reunite with
other Afars in Ethiopia and Djibouti, are at risk. During Eritrean and Ethiopian
conflicts, each State attempted to undermine the other by seeking Afar assistance.
Today Afar organizations (the Afar Liberation Front and Afar Peoples Democratic
Organization in Ethiopia) are concerned with regional autonomy or union with other
Afars. Because the Afars see themselves as distinctly different from other Eritreans,
they are seeking some form self-determination.173 The nomadic Afars suffer
economic and political discrimination. In 2003, a colonel of the ruling partys
Peoples Front for Democracy and Justice was murdered by forces of the Red Sea
Afars Democratic Organization.174
Eritrea was willing to fight a thirty year war for its independence because it
saw itself inherently different from Ethiopia and, as such, Eritreans should be able to
express their self-determination. However, since becoming a State Eritreas message
has changed. Eritrea asked for independence from Ethiopia because it saw itself as
distinctively different, yet now that an ethno-nation in Eritrea is asking for autonomy
172 The Afars are a nomadic people who make seasonal travels and the creation of national boundaries
over the past years has negatively affected their quality of life. The Afars are split between Eritrea,
Ethiopia, and Djibouti. Eritrea restricts freedom of movement. 1999 Country Reports on Human
Rights Practices, Released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor U.S. Department
of State, February 25, 2000 (1/4/2006).
173 Because Eritreans saw themselves as distinctly different from Ethiopia, they aspired to express their
right of self-determination. And now the Afars are making the same argument that Eritreans once
174 Assessment for Afars in Eritrea, www.cidcm.umd.eda;inscr/mar/assessmcnt.asp?groupld=53101
from the State; Eritrea has lost its previous rhetoric and culture. Eritrea is unwilling
to allow the Afars to express their self-determination. In order to be considered a
strong State Eritrea must maintain a defined population and territory and provide
security. To accomplish these goals Eritrea is denying the claims of self-
determination of the Afars, denying the political aspirations of Eritreans (by denying
public debate, denying the vote and not implementing the Constitution), and entering
into border scrimmages with Ethiopia. The violence with Ethiopia is a continuation of
the past rhetoric, and thus culture, of Eritrea. However the denial of rights of Afars
and other Eritreans is a clear change in the rhetoric since Eritrea developed into a
The case of East Timor is similar, but very different, to the case of Eritrea.
Both ethno-nations fought for independence from colonial powers because they saw
themselves different. Each saw something unique about themselves. In both cases,
the State was faced with the daunting task of rebuilding a State that had experienced
widespread destruction: Eritreaman made destruction, drought and mass starvation:
East Timor-wide spread man-made destruction. While in the case of Eritrea, guns
and the ballot box were the path toward independence, in East Timor the ballot box
was the path for independence. Also, East Timor had a recognized right to self-
determination after Portugal left, but in the case of Eritrea there was no recognition
for self-determination until Eritrean troops crossed into Ethiopia.
In 1975, Indonesia grabbed East Timor, after it had been a Portuguese
colony.175 In April 1974, after 400 years as an impoverished outpost of Portugal, the
Portuguese dictator Marcelo Caetano was overthrown in Lisbon. The new regime
freed the remaining fragments of Portugals once-extensive colonial empire: Angola,
Mozambique, Guinea-Bissau, and East Timor. 176 Indonesian agents sabotaged East
Timors peaceful progress toward independence because Indonesia claimed East
Timor as an integral part of Indonesia. Claiming intervention was necessary to
restore peace and security in East Timor, Indonesia invaded on Dec. 7, 1975.177 178
During the initial military offensive, a large percentage of East Timors 600,000
inhabitants fled to the mountains in the eastern half of the island. As the war dragged
on, starvation and carpet bombing eventually forced most of the surviving population
to settle in camps and towns controlled by the Indonesian military. Military attacks,
executions, starvation after crops were destroyed or abandoned, forced migration, and
disease claimed an estimated 100,000 lives in the first year of occupation alone.
Intermittent military offensives continued, often displacing large segments of the
civilian population. The military used harsh tactics to coerce cooperation from the
people and solidify Indonesian rule. These methods included forced migration, rape
175 The Rules of Secession, Economist (Vol. 354, Issue 8155, 01/29/2000), 22.
176 Jeffery Benner, Dossier: East Timor, A relatively Painless Primer on the history of conflict in East
95% destruction in street-by-street burnings. Worse still, and impossible to
reconstruct for a generation, was the removal in a single stroke of nearly all but the
bottom layer of the human resources skills base.182 Indonesias clean sweep was only
stopped through military intervention by the United Nations with Australian troops.
Just after midnight on May 20, 2002 the tiny enclave of East Timor was
proclaimed the first newly independent country of the 21st century. Amid official
celebrations in the capital Dili, UN secretary general Kofi Annan formally handed
power over to President-elect Xanana Gusmao and declared the territorys 800,000
East Timor is starting from zero for two reasons. First, the Indonesian
government or its citizens control nearly everything of value on East Timor.
President Saharto owned over half of the land and business of East Timor. Second,
years of war have left the land scarred and underdeveloped, and most of its people
uneducated.184 Operation Clean Sweep left the land into complete disarray. Yet,
after more than $2 billion in international funding, East Timor now appears ready; it
has an administration and has chosen a language and a currency Portuguese and the
182 Jarat Chopar, Building State failure in East Timor, in State Failure, Collapse and Reconstruction,
Jennifer Milliken, ed., (Malden, Massachusetts: Blackwell Publishing, 2003), 227.
183 Head and Tenenbaum, supra note 181.
184 Lindsay Sobel, Rebuilding East Timors Economy, Mother Jones, 10 September 1999,
Only to the extent that the East Timorese government maintains favor with its
corporate and institutional sponsors will it be able to function at all. On March 12,
2002, for example, UN administration chief Sergio Veira de Mello informed the East
Timor Council of Ministers that after May 20, the UN would no longer provide legal
and legislative support, Internet access, telecommunications, photocopying and
vehicle maintenance. International interpreters would cease to carry out simultaneous
translation services in the Constituent Assembly and TV and radio services could be
shut down, unless funds were borrowed from other sources to finance them.
Lessons of Independence
A paradox plagues international interventions which attempt to rebuild States
that have failed or introduce the Westphalian model where it never really existed.
The task of State-building as an emergency response seems self-defeating. It is
impractical, within a short space of time, to reestablish an executive, legislature and
judiciary that did not work, or to construct them without historical foundations and
where no conditions prevail for their animation.
In East Timor, disintegration resulted from the radical withdrawal of an
occupying power and the comprehensive destruction of any semblance of a governing 185 186 187
185 Head and Tenenbaum, supra note 181.
187 Chopar, supra note 182, 223.
apparatus. Indonesia purposefully made sure the Timorese would have difficulty
establishing itself in the international community.
To counteract the actions of Indonesia, East Timor has had to make note
worthy economic deals. The $2 billion East Timorese aid has come from some
intriguing places. One is the United States, who for decades, and currently, has been
a strong ally of Indonesia. Another is Australia, who originally did not support the
independence of East Timor in the United Nations.189 However, East Timor has been
willing to take allies that were once their enemies.
Before East Timor developed into a State had supported the efforts of
Tibet.190 However, on September 18, 2003, China offered funding and technical aid
for rebuilding East Timor, pledging to continue the aid to East Timor and strengthen
the existing relationship between the two countries. China appreciated East Timor
198 Ibid, 224.
199 Jose Ramo-Horta, Funu: The Unfinished Saga of East Timor, (Lawerenceville: Red Sea Press,
190 The prime minister of the exiled Tibetan government, Samdhong Rinpoche, said in a letter to East
Timors first president, Zanan Gusmao, I know that you and your government will take principled
positions with respect to the struggles of people for self-determination, human rights and decomcracy.
I hope that you will maintain your principled position and apply it to other similar cases. Tibetans
Congratulate East Timor on Independence, The Government of Tibet in Exile,
www.tibet.com/NewsRoom/etimor.htm> (5/2/06). At a presentation to the UN Special Committee on
Decolonization, Merrill Findlay states In the nineties that (global political) agenda is dominated by
regional conflicts and ethnic demands for autonomy that challenge many of our established concepts of
sovereignty. I have already mentioned Palestine, Northern Ireland, and Cyprus, but we can add to that
list the Baltic states, Yugoslavia, Quebec, Bougainville, Tibet, Kashmir, Sri Lanka, Kurdistan, the
Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Kuwait. Merrill Findlay, East Timor: Its Time to Talk, New York,
August 7, 1991, on behalf o f the Australian Council for Overseas Aid (now AFID) and the East Timor
Talks Committee, (4/2004),
government's adherence to the One-China policy, and voiced its belief that East
Timor would continue its support on China's stance on the Taiwan and Tibet
issues.191 A clear change in Chinese policy occurred when East Timor became a
Only time will tell if East Timor is going to thrive in the international
community. Though the situation is not as hopeless as Eritrea, East Timor is still
facing difficulties. They have had to establish relationships with States and
companies, they otherwise might not have had, so the government can ensure the
survival of the State.
Statehood and the Ethno-Nation
Ultimately there is something missing from the two different States that was
there when they were ethno-nations. For Eritrea, their message of ethno-national self-
determination ended. Not only has Eritreas message of ethno-national self-
determination changed, it has also suppressed the political aspirations of its citizens.
Also, Eritrea has not ended its fighting with Ethiopia. For East Timor, they changed
their message of support for foreign ethno-nations. In each case their culture and
message changed as they developed into States.
The secession of Eritrea and East Timor bring into question whether the State
191 Sino-East Timor Cooperative Ties Promoted, (9/2003)
192 For East Timor to get the aid from China it had to publicly end its support for Tibet and instead
support a One-China Policy.
is the answer for ethno-nations seeking self-determination. If Eritrea and East Timor
are an example of how Statehood is possibly unresponsive to the needs of ethno-
nations, then is there a solution that can better respond to the needs of ethno-nations?
How is the world to deal with ethno-national conflict and ethno-nations self-
determination in the international world? There is in principle a range of political
statuses that an ethno-nation might come to have in the pursuit of greater control over
its common life, short of full sovereignty, and that the traditional conceptual
framework that recognizes only fully sovereign States, individuals, and minority
groups that are accorded only cultural rather than political status is inadequate.
Experimentation with new forms of semi-autonomy or limited sovereignty is
what is needed.193 The next chapter will examine alternatives that some ethno-
national groups have established to achieve self-determination.
193 Allen Buchanan, supra note 51,21.
THE SEARCH FOR SELF-DETERMINATION:
THREE CASE STUDIES
Nations occupation can be very expensive. Territorial
autonomy for nations would end most wars. In
physical space, two objects cannot occupy the same place
at the same time; in the political space, they can. A nation
can exercise its own autonomy within the context of one or more
States international sovereignties.194
The Westphalian-State structure may not address the self-determination
aspirations for all ethno-nations. In resolution 1541 (XV) of December 15 1960, the
General Assembly adopted a number of principles which should guide members in
determining whether or not an obligation exists to transmit the information called
under Article 73 of the Charter.
A Non-Self-Goveming Territory can be said to have reached
a full measure of self-government by
(a) Emergence as a sovereign independent State;
(b) Free association with an independent State; or
(c) Integration with an independent State.195
Several ethno-nations have found unique approaches to defining self-
determination: none necessarily better than the other. Glenn T. Morris contends:
under international law, self-determination means the full
194 Nietschmann, supra note 3, 7.
1,5 Cristescu, supra note 7.
enjoyment of civil and political rights... (and) the right of all
peoples to choose their political status, including the right
to choose independence...and to exercise permanent
sovereignty over natural resources.196
One approach of expressing self-determination is autonomy or internal self-
determination. In some instances, autonomy may imply no more than protection from
discrimination and preservation of cultural, linguistic, or other values from majority
assault. Yet in others, adoption of a federal system or the devolution of meaningful
power from the center to geographic, linguistic, or ethnic based regions.197 198 James
Crawford defines autonomy as:
Autonomous areas are regions of a State, usually possessing
some ethnic or cultural distinctiveness, which have been
granted separate powers of internal administration, to
whatever degree, without being detached from the State of
which they are a part... (the agreement) must be in some way
internationally binding upon the central authorities. Given
such guarantees, the local entity may have a certain status,
although since that does not normally involve any foreign
relation capacity, it is necessarily limited. Until a very
advanced stage is reached in the progress towards self-
government, such areas are not states.
Three unique examples of the development of autonomy and self-
determination are: the Inuit of Greenland, the Kuna of Panama and the Romani of
Europe. The ethno-nations have varying degrees of interaction with, and separation
from, the State and are in varying stages of self-determination: expressing different
196 Morris, supra note 59121.
197 Harnium, supra note 40, 4.
198 Crawford, supra note 4, 211-212.
definitions of and aspirations for self-determination. They have varying degrees of
self-rule and autonomous agreements. The ethno-nations, their definitions and
aspirations of self-determination and autonomous agreements are examined below.199
The next chapter will compare the three case studies.
Inuit of Greenland
At a United Nations Conference on indigenous self-governance, speakers
from around the world praised Greenlanders Home Rule agreement with
Denmark.200 Through Home Rule, the Greenlandic Inuit have achieved what many
regard as the greatest degree of political autonomy of any indigenous peoples in the
Artie.201 In the process, the Inuit ended over 250 years of colonial control by
Denmark, and set the stage for a new form of indigenous self-determination: drawing
upon Inuit customs and Scandinavian social democratic traditions.202
History of the Kalaallit
The Inuit or Kalaallit are the native peoples of Greenland (Kalaallit-Nunnat-
the land of the Greenlanders) and have lived there for almost four thousand years.
Greenlands present population is around 55,000, 85% of whom are Inuit.203 The
national language is Greenlandic.204 Hunting and fishing are fundamental to their
200 The concept of Home Rule has several meanings in Greenlandic discourse. When Greenlanders
speak of Home Rule, they are likely referring to the government itself (to the political institutions).
The concept does have broader meanings: language and cultural revitalization, and growing
international ties to other Inuit. Richard A. Caulfield, Greenlanders, Whales and Whaling:
Sustainability and Self-Determination in the Artie, (Hanover: University Press of New England, 1997),
203 Ibid, 4.
204 Greenlandic is a branch of Inupik with three dialects: West and East Greenlandic and Polar-Eskimo.
Early European Interactions with the Kalaallit-Nunnat
Kalaallit-Nunnat colonial history is largely drawn from accounts of early
whalers, missionaries, and colonial administrators. Inuit first encountered Europeans
in the thirteenth century but Kalaallit-Nunnat was not colonized until the 1700s by
Danish missionaries and traders.205 206 In 1721, a Danish missionary, Hans Egede,
landed on the island: forming the basis for Danish sovereignty of the territory.207
When colonization of Greenland began, Danes used the term colony as
synonymous with mission and trade station.208 209 Due to its distance from Denmark, its
relatively inhospitable climate, and focus on resource exploitation (requiring only
small settlements), not many Danes moved to Greenland. Despite shortage of
colonists, local Danish government was established in the late 1700s.
During the 17lh and 18th centuries, traders returned to Europe with Inuit slaves
and artifacts; both placed on display. The Inuit were viewed as heavy but happy
205 Andrew Juedes, Porsha Hands, and Brandon Ott,
207 Greenland Factsheet,
209 This term continued being used until 1953 when Greenland was formally made a part of Denmark.
The Danish Constitution was changed to incorporate Greenland as a county of Denmark. Robert
Petersen, Colonialism as seen from a former Colonized Area, Artie Anthropology 32, no. 2 (1995):
people surviving in a rough environment.209 During the 19th century, Inuit began
relying more on European goods, resulting in declining traditional practices and
beliefs.209 210 In the 1920s, policies of protecting traditional hunting changed to favoring
commercial fishing. New technologies were introduced in Greenland: motorized
boats replaced older kayaks which were deemed inefficient. Economic transformation
led to increased strain on Inuit culture and institutions.
The overt repression of indigenous culture in Greenland, while present, was
limited compared to other examples in the Americas, at least until World War II;
Greenland acquired strategic military importance.211 During this time more goods
were brought in, expanding the economy and generally raising indigenous
Events leading to the Home Rule Act
Greenland was affected by the global decolonization movement: fueling
aspirations for independence.212 In 1953, the new Danish Constitution integrated
209 Caulfied, supra note 200, 17.
210 Ibid, 31.
21'The German occupation of Denmark meant all contact with Denmark was suspended and officials in
Greenland contacted those in the United States of America, agreeing to defend Greenland. In 1952-
1953 an American military base was established at Thule. The construction of North Atlantic Treaty
Organization (NATO) bases, and has brought Greenland into close contact with the rest of the world,
particularly the United States. Denmark was/is party to NATO.
212 Isi, Foighel, A Framework for Local Autonomy: The Greenland Case, in Models of Autonomy,
ed. Yoram Dinstein, (London: Transaction Books, 1981), 32.
Greenland as a county of Denmark with equal rights for all.213 This incorporation
was supposed to pave the way for Greenlanders to become full Danish citizens and
allow for Greenlandic-Danish relations to be normalized.214 This incorporation was
approved by the UN in 1954 (with expressed approval of representatives of the
The Danish government created extensive development programs in
Greenland (based on the Danish model).216 This was done in order to achieve the
equality desired by both parties.217 During modernization, Greenlanders218 saw the
worst effects of colonialism.219 Denmark invested heavily in Greenlands
commercial fisheries, importing large numbers of Danish workers to build new fish
213 Greenland had representation in the Danish government, the same as any Danish county.
According to General Assembly Resolution 849 (IX), under which Greenland was incorporated into
Denmark, constitutes only an administrative determination to remove Greenland from non-self-
goveming status. Thus Greenland, as a former colony, has a continuing right to modify its
international status. Gumundur Alfredsson, Greenland, and the Right to External Self-Determination
(Ph.D. diss., xeros, Harvard University, 1982), 279.
214 Caulfield, supra note 200, 5.
215 It may seem through this agreement that the Inuit gave-up any rights for further challenges to their
status in the international community, but it has been argued that a former colony has a continuing
right to modify its international status, just the same as a State has the right to change its government
and economy or any other attributes it sees fit. Alfredsson, supra note 213, 279.
216 The programs were referred to as G-50 and G-60.
217 Caulfield,supra note 200, 5.
218 Greenlanders is used to describe those living in Greenland both Inuit and Danes.
219 Caulfield, supra note 200, 5.
processing plants and other infrastructure.220 Greenland had joined the global market,
whether it wanted to or not.221
By 1972, several problems in the Danish-Greenland relationship were evident.
Development and equality meant Greenland would now be more like Denmark: in
terms of housing, education, and other social and economic structures. The influence
of the Danish government increased to where One was a tenant in ones own
country.222 223 Greenlanders saw the change as too Danish; they were losing control
of their territory and lives. One example of Danish development is the fish
processing plants. To meet increased demand for labor in processing plants,
Denmark used a controversial resettlement program to entice or coerce (depending on
your view) Greenlandic families into leaving smaller settlements. A number of
settlements were completely depopulated.224 Greenlanders were increasingly
relegated to spectator status in this process of extreme change.225
A second rising concern was Greenlands 1972 membership in the European
Community (EC). Only 28.4% of Greenlanders wished to join, however, since all of
221 Fish were exported as far away as Sweden and Japan.
222 Foighel, supra note 212, 34.
223 Development seemed to be defined as becoming Danish.
224 One example was the community of Qullissat on Disko Island which was built around an
unprofitable coal mine. The government decided to shut-down the community in 1972. Caulfield,
supra note 200, 37.
225 Ibid, 5.
Denmark was able to vote and decided to join, Greenland was forced into
membership.226 The Danish Government acted contrary to Greenlands desires,
leaving Greenlanders feeling politically powerless.227
In the spring of 1975, Denmark granted oil and gas exploration off the coast
of Greenland (in Davis Strait) to multinational corporations, furthering the
controversy surrounding the relationship between Denmark and Greenland.228 229
Greenlandic politicians objected, stating Greenlanders had aboriginal rights to the
resources. This added further impetus to discussions of greater Greenlandic
The Home Rule process was advanced in the 1970s by emerging young,
radicalized, Greenlandic elites.230 In 1971, Lars Emil Johansen stated:
Greenlanders and Danes in Greenland must acknowledge the
fact that we are two different peoples, and that we must not aim
for integration of the two.. .Only on this basis can we achieve
cooperation that builds on mutual respect.231
226 In 1982, Greenlandic voters overwhelmingly withdrew from the EC. Greenland has been able to
retain favorable trading status and free access to European markets due to its relationship with
227 Caulfield, supra note 200, 35.
228 Foighel, supra note 212, 35.
229 As it turned our, exploratory drilling failed to produce commercial quantities of oil and gas, but the
controversy highlighted a rapidly developing conflict over ownership or nonrenewable resources.
230 Greenlandic students, studying in Danish universities, were combining nationalist and anti-capitalist
ideologies to pursue greater Greenlandic self-determination. The students came together to form
Peqatigiit Kalaallit (The Young Greenlanders Association). Caulfield, supra note 200, 37.
231 Ibid, 37-38.
That same year Moses Olsen was elected to Greenlands seat in the Danish Folketing
(parliament). He held a key swing-vote, allowing Greenland to have astonishing
leverage in pressing for Home Rule.
In the fall of 1972, a request of the Greenland Provincial Council led to the
establishment of a Home Rule Committee comprised entirely of Greenlanders. Three
years later, October 9, 1975, the committee proposed a home rule system. The Home
Rule Committee created a Commission on Home Rule.232 233 The Commission on
Home Rule concluded its work in 1978 and submitted the Home Rule Act calling for
Greenlandic control over domestic issues on the island.
Developing the Home Rule Act
The Home Rule Act (HRA) is based on Danish intra-State law, while
recognizing that Greenland was once a colony. Internal and external sovereignty
remains in the hands of the Danish government, while some powers of administration
are delegated to Greenland.234 Preservation of national unity was the primary rule
for discussion. No concrete discussion or consideration of the possibility of
232The seventeen member Commission on Home Rule consisted of five members elected by the
Greenland Provisional Council, the two Greenland members to the Danish Folketing, seven Danish
Parliamentarians and a Chairman appointed by the Minister for Greenland, as well as three other
members assigned to the Commission, two from the Danish government and one from the Greenlandic
government. The Federation of Greenland Municipalities was represented by permanent observes.
Foighel, supra note 212, 35.
233 The colony was not established through treaty with the Inuit, thus not recognizing Greenland as a
234 This means that only areas related exclusively to Greenland are delegated to the home rule
Greenland creating an independent State occurred. Territorial integrity of Denmark
and access to natural resources were highly important. Success of the negotiations for
Home Rule rested on Greenlands willingness to accept Denmarks view on major
issues such as security, foreign policy and currency.
Implicit in HRA structure were several key components. Greenland was to
remain part of the Danish realm. Sovereignty of the island remains in the hands of
the Danish Government. This agreement creates a very weak protection for Inuit
peoples because the Danish State may decide it has an interest in something which
Greenlanders feel affects them primarily, but not only, them. Thus it allows the State
to step in when it feels that it has a vested interest in the actions of the Home Rule
committee. One key compromise was Greenlanders ability to control their natural
resources. Recognition was made that Greenlanders have a fundamental right to the
natural resources of Greenland: a nebulous and as-yet-untested legal concept.235 236
This is significant because it allows Greenlanders to safeguard State interests and
control and preserve their culture.
On November 17, 1978, the Danish parliament adopted all of the proposed
Home Rule statutes (without amending), and on January 17, 1979, Greenlanders
approved with 70.1% of the 63.3% of the responding electorate voting for the Home
Rule Agreement. The Agreement went into affect on May 1, 1979.
235 Excluding any potential for a formation of a federation.
236 Caulfield, supra note 200, 38.
The Home Rule Act
The HRA established the Landsting (the popularly elected parliament in
Greenland) and the Landsstyre (the Home Rule Government).237 The government
also includes an extensive sub government, consisting of eighteen municipalities as
well as major unions, business groups, and social organizations.
The HRA divides authority for the Home Rule and Danish State into three
areas: 1) those fully within Home Rules control; 2) those fully under Danish control;
3) those shared by both governments. Since, 1979, the Home Rule government
assumed control over nearly all internal matters, ranging from fishery management to
education, health services to development of infrastructure.238
The HRA dictates that the Danish government retains authority over foreign
policy, defense, citizenship, fiscal and monetary policy, and the justice system.239 In
addition, it implies Home Rule retains a number of provisions common to all parties
within the Danish realm: including acceptance of the Danish constitution, the
authority of the Danish Folketing, and Danish law relating to human and individual
237 In the West Greenlandic language, these entities are collectively called Namminersomerullutik
Oqartussat,or Home Rule.
238 In 1992, the government assumed control of the health care system; it is deemed to be one of the
most complex and expensive undertakings of the HRA government. The system is funded through
taxation. Caulfield, supra note 200,41.
239 Foreign relations are under Danish control, yet where such actions affect areas of Home Rule
government, it is necessary for the Danish government to engage in prior consultation, with Home
Rule authorities. Foighel, supra note 212, 37.
Home Rule authorities have developed detailed regulations in the following
areas: administrative system of Greenland (including communes, taxes, rates and
dues); fishing, hunting, agriculture; sheep and reindeer-breeding; preservation of
wildlife; country planning; trade and competition legislation; social questions; labor
market conditions; teaching and culture; health service; internal transportation and
environmental protection. The Home Rule government has control of church affairs;
education; cultural affairs; sealing. Freight by sea to Greenland is the prerogative of
the Greenland Home Government Shipping Company while also managing the entire
Greenland fishing operation through use of protective measure and quotas.
Home Rule control can be expanded upon Danish and Greenlandic
authorities agreement. The possible fields for expansion are: organization of local
government; direct and indirect taxes; religion; animal husbandry and agriculture;
conservation and protection of the environment; regulation of local business and labor
market affairs; education and cultural affairs; and matters relating to trade, health
services and transportation.
The HRA is structured in such a way as to pose no financial risk to the Danish
government. It presupposes that the new order shall not lead to either savings or
additional expenditures for the Government.240 Thus the HRA government is not
allowed to adopt Acts which must be funded by the Danish parliament, but it is free
240 Ibid, 50.
to issue regulations.241
Article 9 of the HRA recognizes Greenlandic language as the primary
language.242 Home Rule runs vocational schools but any advanced education (except
teacher training, social work, journalism and theology) must be completed in
Denmark.243 Local schools are supervised by the communities. Officially,
Greenlandic and Danish are on equal terms, and business and judicial proceedings are
conducted in the language preferred by the participants.244
Greenland subsoil is publicly owned, and licenses for exploration and
exploitation are issued by the Danish Minister for Greenland upon recommendation
of a joint Greenlandic-Danish council in which both countries have veto power,
however, the Danish government may override Greenlands veto regarding natural
resources for national interests. This is especially relevant in the case of uranium, for
which Greenland is a primary Danish source and which Denmark needs to produce
atomic energy.245 The right to a decisive influence in the sphere of natural resources
is established as a right to ensure the mitigation of any possible detrimental influence
241 This is an important distinction for the Danish government, because it reinforces the sovereignty of
the Danish state.
242 Since a major part of higher education must be obtained in Denmark, Danish is also taught.
243 Higher education in skills such as engineering, or law, can only be obtained in Denmark. This
makes the equality of languages something less than one is led to expect.
244 Foighel, supra note 212, 50.
in the physical or social environment to preserve traditional life and culture.246
Conflicts between Home Rule and Danish governments are resolved under the
provisions of Article 18 that established a board consisting of two Home Rule
authorities, two Danish government authorities and three Supreme Court Justices
nominated by the President, one of whom shall be nominated as Chairman. If the
Home Rule and Danish nominated authorities reach an agreement the issue is
considered settled. However if they fail to reach an agreement the three Justices will
make the decision. The governments are able to bring issues before the board,
private citizens cannot.
It is important to note, according to Foighel, the people of Greenland do not
want independence, but they want more and better opportunities to strengthen and
expand their Greenlandic identity and gain some independent responsibility. Foighel
believes the process will be gradual and work to the advantage of both parties.247
While the Inuit are still part of the Danish State, their island location and distinct
language, history and culture, provide the Greenlanders with the basis to demand
increased control over issues such as justice, defense and foreign affairs: areas in
which they currently have limited powers. However the major Greenlandic political
246 Greenland and Denmark also share control over resources and management of find and minke
247 Ibid, 52.
party (Inuit Ataqatigiit) advocates independence.248 Greenlands economy is at a
crossroads: dealing with concerns from global warming to efforts to diversify the
economy. Greenland, like Denmark, has a market economy.249
Philosophical Conclusions of Home Rule
The Home Rule Act reflects advances made in the 20th century, valuing ethno-
national culture, but substantive authority remains with Denmark. The Greenlandic
powers are limited primarily to carrying out policy in which Greenlanders have
consultative or advisory rights.250
Denmark has been accused of largely ignoring judicial divisions created by
the Home Rule Act, and not acting in the spirit of the agreement. An example is in
1989 the Inuit charged no attempt was made to see if the European Convention is in
accord with Danish-Greenlandic law and the Convention was never proclaimed in
Greenland. Another example is none of the human rights documents signed by
Denmark have been translated into Greenlandic, depriving Greenlanders of
248 This party has headed the Greenland home rule government along with the Siumut party (Social
Democrats) since 1984.
249 Profits for resource development are shared by both parties.
250 There was never any treaty of land cession, so the Inuit still hold aboriginal title. This idea is
supported by the Danish parliaments recognition, during the establishment of Home Rule, that
Greenland was a colony.
knowledge and participation.251
Home Rule in Greenland provides the Inuit more control over their social and
cultural futures; at least, more than they have had since the advent of Danish Colonial
rule. The arrangement appears to provide a good foundation upon which Inuit people
can decide if they desire a further extension of their right to self-determination. The
Home Rule Act covers both cultural and economic issues and gives the Inuit a voice
in several important areas.
Denmarks Home Rule Act is not any more restrictive than other general
autonomy practices. It is formally more restrictive in the area of legal jurisdiction:
leaving full authority to the State. In practice there appears to be an acceptance of
Greenlandic practices. It is possible that this is allowed because the overwhelming
majority of the population is Inuit. The Home Rule Act allows the Inuit some
participation in the international arena and this goes beyond general autonomy
251 Jens Brosted, Greenland: Publication of Human Rights Instruments in Greenlandic- A proposal for
a Greenlandic Handbook on Human Rights, International Working Group for Indigenous Affairs
Newsletter, No. 58 (August 1989), 43-45.
Kuna of San Bias Panama
Encounters between the Kuna and non-Kuna (or waga) consist of more than
just struggles of land and power. The communications between the two have led
to a political system where Kuna have developed a strong political position; they are
one of the most politically mobilized and active indigenous peoples in Latin
The Kuna of San Bias live on the Panamanian-Colombian border but only a
small percentage live in Colombia: most live in Panama (about 70,000 in total). They
are one of three primary indigenous peoples of Panama, speaking their own language:
Tule. In 1945 they achieved an agreement with the State of Panama; the Carta
Organica establishing the relationship between the Kuna peoples and the State.254
Although Panama claims rights in and to the San Bias territory, the Kuna contend:
We have a territory not land but territory, physically
demarcated, and administered... by the Kuna. To explain, we
obtained it in 1925, with a struggle. Our people struggled to
obtain the territory, and now we have it. Our islands.. .are
officially called the Archipelago de San Bias, but we changed
the name to the Kuna Yala Territory. No foreigner, nobody who
252 The encounters are described as an extended conversation; i.e. a long series of communications
across cultural borders. The phrase extended conversation is attributed to anthropologists Paul
Sullivan. James Howe, A People who would not Kneel: Panama, the United States and the San Bias
Kuna, (Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1998),6.
253 Assessment for Indigenous Peoples in Panama. 31 December 2000.
254 The Carta Organica is part of the Panamanian system of State/indigenous government relations.
isnt a Kuna, can own any of the islands. 255
There are 45,000 to 50,000 Kuna who live along the eastern Caribbean coast and on
the San Bias islands.256 The Comarca San Bias is the oldest and most advanced
Comarca in Panama in terms of the development of autonomy and self-
The Kuna are a highly political people, and their system
is unusually open and accessible... It has proved
remarkably successful in adapting to the radically changed
circumstances of twentieth-century Latin America.258
Colonization of the Area
Some intellectuals theorize the impact of European colonization was limited
(principally in the economic arena), but evidence suggests otherwise. The purported
first contact, between the Kuna and waga, was in 1510, when two Spanish
expeditions joined at the Panamanian Isthmus. By 1570, a royal Spanish census
found the whole eastern Isthmus empty except for scattered camps of runaway slaves.
By the 17th century the Kuna had moved west, making their presence known by
attacking Panamas eastern frontier. In the 1630s Spanish authorities succeeded in
255 Do or Die. Issue 10, (1/4/2006) (in which there
was a conversation with a Kuna representative).
256 The Kuna call their area Kuna Yala (Kuna word for Land/Mountain).
257 Comarca is preferred to the term Reserve because the latter has negative racial and historical
connotations. All indigenous peoples in Panama do not have comarcas. Only three have been
established for: the Kuna, Embera and Teribe.
258 James Howe, The Kuna Gathering: Contemporary Village Politics in Panama, (Austin: The
University of Texas Press, 1986), 3.
founding four missions encompassing about fourteen hundred Kuna. In 1651, the
Kuna revolted and drove out the soldiers and Capuchins, along with the miners and
colonists.259 Throughout the second half of the seventeenth century, the Kuna
successfully resisted Spanish re-conquest.260 261 Spanish desire for gold and lack of trade
left Kuna hostile to the Spanish.
Struggles for Kuna Self-Determination267
San Bias was considered to be part of Colombia until 1903 when Panama,
inspired by the United States government, declared its independence.262 In 1908, the
Panamanian government passed a law aimed at achieving, by all peaceful means, the
reduction to a civilized life of all the savage263 tribes in the land.264 * By the 1920s,
the peaceful means turned to stronger measures: specifically suppressing traditional
practices. In 1923 and 1924 a program of coercive acculturation was instituted with
259 Howe (1998), supra note 252, 12.
260 Spanish influence was limited to a few missions.
261 It is important to note that though the Kuna participated in rebellion, the rebellion was never to
establish an independent State. Over time the Panamanian government has helped to establish a
separate government for the Kuna peoples.
262 This is the first time San Bias was made part of a State.
263 The use of the world savage is a clear link to Western concepts of indigenous ethno-nations.
Savage is a common Euro-American mindset linked to such ideas of the Other and/or Primitive.
Howe 1998), supra note 252, 7.
264 Bernard Nietschmann, Miskito and Kuna Struggle for Nation Autonomy, in Tribal Peoples &
Development Issues: A Global Overview, John H. Bodely, ed., (Mountain View: Mayfield Publishing
Co., 1988), 279.
police controls in the villages.265
On February 22, 1925, the Kuna staged a revolt.266 The rebellion was in
response to the coercive developments and ultimately drove out the police.267
Carnival offered a prominent landmark; it called to mind the exorcisms by which
communities periodically rid themselves of spirits. The rebel Kuna were about to
exorcize the human world.268 As angry crowds gathered and Indians in the city went
into hiding escaping mob violence, the government began to assemble an
expeditionary force to go confront the rebels. February 27th, the Panamanian
National Assembly decreed martial law in San Bias. By March 4th, the rebels agreed
to submit to Panamanian authority and return the captured arms.269 The government
installed authorities as needed but otherwise allowed the Kuna to maintain order.270
The government undertook to protect the Indians in their manners and customs
(schools were not imposed) and extend Indians the same rights and privileges as other
citizens; in return, the rebels promised to respect Kuna wanting schools or different
265 An example of the coercive acculturation was the police imposed drinking and dancing during
266 Howe (1998), supra note 252, 267.
267 The rebellion was aided by American explorer named Richard Marsh. He helped the Kuna obtain
arms for the rebellion and plead the Kuna case for the rebellion to the United States State Department.
268 Howe (1998), supra note 252, 267.
269 The negotiations were assisted by the U.S. Minister arriving on a cruiser. James Howe, The
Struggle over San Blass Kuna Culture, in Joel Sherzer and Greg Urban, eds., Nation-States and
Indians in Latin America, (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1991), 21.
270 Ibid, 289.
customs.271 After the 1925 revolt, the Kuna created the Tule Republic.272
The Panamanian government responded to the rebellion by legislating a
system of Indian reserves.273 The formation of a Comarca requires the approval of
the national legislature and the Carta Organica must be approved by executive decree.
The indigenous peoples regulate the laws which pertain to the internal judicial life in
the region. The Comarca judicial system is similar to the rest of the country and
differs only in that the authorities are indigenous peoples and the populace answers to
them, except, like in the United States, in the cases of major crimes. Native peoples
have full voting rights in the Panamanian State and have their own representative in
the national assembly and legislature. The Comarca is seen by the State as a form of
frontier security. It defines legal boundaries beyond which colonists and cattle
ranchers cannot pass. The government will support the Indians against the claims of
outsiders who attempt to seize land or resources. It also assists the government in
stabilizing migration patterns. Indians no longer have to move to the cities to find
economic opportunities. In fact, some of those who moved to the cities are returning
to the homelands as conditions in the cities decline. In 1977 a commission
considered the existence of the Comarca system to be indispensable for both the
indigenous peoples and the State. The Comarcas should guarantee land rights,
272 Tule is the Kuna name for themselves. The Republic lasted for five years.
273 Also known as Comarcas.
development, and preservation of cultural heritage for the indigenous peoples; for the
State, it would stabilize rural-to-urban migration patterns.
Law 59 of 1930 recognized a reserve for the San Bias Kuna.274 275 Law 2 of
1934 acknowledged the Kuna a comarca along the San Bias coast. In 1945, Kuna and
State authorities created the Carta Organica; the Kuna Constitution establishing
regional governance reflecting Kuna traditional village political structure. It
formalized regional governance: a political system of three chiefs (Caciques), and a
democratic congress (Congresso). The Carta Organica granted most decision-
making rights to the Congresso, but because it does not meet year round, the regional
Caciques possess the functional power. The Carta Organica also includes the office
of Intendente, or government appointed Governor.276
In 1953, Law 16 recognized the Kuna Yala as an autonomous, self-governing
region and the indigenous form of government regarding the administrative and
juridical status of San Bias.277 The cooperation, established by Law 16, was all but
destroyed by 1946. The Panamanian Constitution called for the integration of Indian
cultures into national society. In 1952, the government established an Indian Affairs
274 Peter H. Herlihy, Panamas Quiet Revolution: Comarca homelands and Indian Rights, Cultural
Survival Quarterly 13, No. 3, (1989): 18.
275 Howe, (1986), supra note 258, 19-20.
276 The position was created in 1915. Since 1983, this position has been filled from a list of three
names submitted by the Kuna General Congress. Ibid, 21.
277 Guillermo Archibold and Sheila Davey, Kuna Yala: Protecting the San Bias of Panama, in
Elizabeth Kemf, ed., The Law of the Mother: Protecting Indigenous People in Protected Areas, (San
Francisco: Sierra Club Books, 1993), 52.
Department (Departamento de Asuntos Indigenas) within the Ministry of Justice.278
In 1958, the government established an agency to deal exclusively with Indian
Affairs.279 In 1962, the Kuna again took up arms, but the rebellion was suppressed.280
Under the government of General Omar Torrijos (1968), conscious efforts
were made to improve the position of indigenous peoples within the State. National
Indian congresses were held and focusing on the delimitation of Comarcas. The 1972
Constitution gave Indians the right to participate in Panamas political system and
provided for the reserve of lands necessary for their economic well-being.281 282
Though advancements were made in Indian relations, the government
continued with repressive policies. In 1970, work began on El Llano-Carti Road.
Areas of the forest were cut and were crops burned. There was a surge in poaching
and increase in plundering of forest products from Kuna lands.283 Fully aware that
the government was actively encouraging colonization of unused tracts of rain
forest, the Kuna established an agricultural project in 1975 along the threatened
278 The placement of this department within the Ministry indicated the direction to be taken by the
government: specifically self-determination. If the department had been established in the State or
Foreign Affairs department, then the government would have explicitly recognized the indigenous
peoples right to full self-determination.
279 The agency was completely separate from other governmental agencies and replaced the 1952
280 Assessment for Indigenous Peoples in Panama, supra note 253.
281 Herlihy, supra note 274, 19.
282 A road linking the Pan-American Highway to the coast at Carti.
283 Archibold and Davey, supra note 277, 52.
boundary to demonstrate their opposition to the government settlement policy.284
The Kuna have moved from a system of largely autonomous villages grouped
into a weak confederacy or confederacies, to a more complex and formalized regional
structure incorporated within a State. Kuna politics are not like politics elsewhere in
Panama, or the rest of the world, the villages hold much of their self-management and
self-determination and are unwilling to surrender their political system to outside
More recently, the Kuna have been fighting for the passage of Law 169.285 286
For example, in the law, its posited the owners of subsurface resources are controlled
by indigenous peoples. The governments position is that all natural resources belong
to the State. Panama holds the right to negotiate with any corporation and ultimately
to exploit the land without the consent of indigenous peoples. The Kuna responded to
the government assertions stating: No, what is underground belongs to the
indigenous people and we can decide what happens to it. The Kuna view control
of natural resources as a form of self-determination for their peoples.287 The Kuna
Comarca authorities manage above-ground resources, but the Constitution places
subsurface resources under the control of the State. Comarca laws do not address
284 Ibid, 53.
285 It is an instrument that would allow Panamanian Indians access to Western Tribunals.
287 The territory and the materials underground are the property of the Kuna, thus the owners of the
land should have the ultimate say it what happens to the territory and its material. If this does not
occur then the State is hindering the self-determination of the peoples.
conservation or issues related to subsistence. This may prove problematic in the
future as traditional economies depend on the availability of land for these purposes,
not just development or agricultural use.
The San Bias Kuna have developed a unique approach to protecting their land
and their culture. Enlisting the aid of environmentalists such as the World Wildlife
Fund and the Smithsonian Institution, who are concerned over the loss of vegetation
in the area, the Kuna have developed a plan to surround themselves with national
parks, both forest and marine, which will protect them from encroachment. This
Biosphere Reserve is an area in which undisturbed nature, including man and his
works, can serve as a genetic reservoir. The Kuna manage it and integrate it into their
society. The Kuna professionals and technicians were determined to participate as
equal partners in the scientific research program and in the planning of resource
management.288 It is modeled on traditional Kuna spirit reserves which are areas in
which the Kuna spirits live and which are a source of medicinal plants.
Impact of Carta Oreanica and Law 16
Many consider the Kuna government to be one of the most advanced political
systems of any indigenous ethno-national group in Latin America. It is one of the
most self-governing indigenous nations today. The Kuna do not aspire for
independence, nor do they attempt to enlarge their political advantage by expanding
to include any other Kuna who have historic ties with them.
288 Archibold and Davey, supra note 277, 55.
Law 16 recognized the indigenous form of government regarding the
administrative and juridical status of San Bias within the structure of the Panamanian
State. This legislation superseded all previous legislation and requires the
compatibility of San Bias and Panamanian law. This law also commits the
Panamanian government to providing services which the Kuna feel have not been
met. The Kuna General Council represents the supreme authority of the Kuna and
represents the approximately sixty Kuna communities in the Comarca.289 290 Land can
be rented or sold only after the Council has approved it on two consecutive occasions
and no property can be owned by non-Kuna.
A Kuna leader explains the political system:
This is interesting. There is the leader, the Saila Dammad. He has
the maximum authority. Of the 50 islands that are inhabited by
the Kuna, each has its own authority, its Saila, and each one
carries out its role, has its internal rules and regulations, and
is autonomous and independent of the other islands. The
populations of the islands range from 100 up to 5,000
inhabitants. Every six months there is a meeting of all these
communities in the Kuna General Congress. Here, all types of
indigenous Kuna people come together. People who have
different ideologies and modes of organization. As long as they
are Kuna, they have to meet. Theres no distinction, no
discrimination. They discuss and debate the national problems of
the Kuna, and the leader of all of them is the Saila Dammad. That
is not to say that the Saila Dammad has to intervene in the
problems of each island: each one is autonomous. The Congress
decides what position it has to adopt before the Panamanian
289 Regina Evans Holloman, Developmental Change in San Bias (Ph.D. diss., Northwestern University,
290 However due to the fact that the Council does not meet year round, the three regional Caciques
possess the functional power.
government and regarding the transnational companies.291
The Kuna General Congress was created in 1945 and they meet twice a year with the
presence of representative of their 48 communities, represented by a Chief (Sayla)
and five delegates of each community. The villages have the ability to collect and
asses any taxes. The Kuna are the police, but are not required to enter into military
service. The hierarchy of the Kuna system is made-up of 7 chiefs, 5 akars, and 30
lesser offices. Due to the large nature of the gatherings the discussions have become
more focused and businesslike and participation less inclusive. The traditional
practice of the nightly village gathering is still followed in Comarca San Bias.
During this meeting disputes may be settled and village affairs discussed. This is also
the time during which the Fathers Way, the Kuna creation story, is recited.292
The Kuna have considerable control over their Comarca. The villages set
economic polity and arbitrate questions of ownership and inheritance. They gather
and spend revenue and make economic requests of the people. Villages have the
right of immediate removal over their own chief(s) and a majority of villagers can
overrule their chief. The Kuna control access by outsiders to much of their territory.
291 This interview was conducted with a representative of the Kuna people at the Third People's Global
Action (PGA) conference in Cochabamba, Bolivia, supra note 255.
292 The Fathers Way is a metaphorical Constitution that covers leadership, internal external affairs. It
supports Kuna solidarity. In this story rank and strata are absent and there is little social distance
between leaders and followers. Leaders do not lead through use of coercive powers but are valued
because they speak and sing well, are learned and of high moral character. They inspire respect
through example. These are traditional, not European values are explicitly supported in the Carta
Current Situation of the Kuna
The Kunas central problems remain poor health and sanitation facilities.
Because they have fought for and won autonomy, it seems likely that the majority of
Kuna in the San Bias will not change their view of the government or other
Panamanians. They have doggedly held on to their culture and traditions, but have
freely associated (in a business sense) with Europeans and mestizos.
After 1900, Kuna men increasingly began to find jobs ashore in Panama, and migrant
labor has increased ever since. There were sudden increases of migrant workers in
the 1940s and 1970s. In recent years the rate of migration has exceptionally
increased- men now go away more often, later into life, for longer stays, and in many
cases they take their families with them.293 The Kuna Indians Community enjoys the
lowest degree of poverty outside their areas, a degree that is even lower than the
national average. To escape from poverty is the primary reason for Kuna to leave
their geographical areas and migrate to other areas of Panama.294
Destabilization of the culture is another concern. The ties to cultural identity
are slowly eroding as more young people drift away to Panama City looking for
opportunities. The Kunas symbiotic relationship with the environment is threatened
through the Kunas assimilation into Panamanian Society. Steve Cornelius (of the
293 Howes (1986), supra note 258.
294 Renato Aguilar, Guillermo Garcia-Huidobro, Panama: Indigenous Peoples Socio Economic and
Demographic Characteristics Key Social Policy Issues to Alleviate their Poverty, (Jan, 2001),
WWF) contends There has been a marked cultural memory loss caused by the
migration of Kuna to urban centers and the school curriculas failure to address
cultural links to environmental conservation.295
Colonization, energy development and the development of the tourist industry
are among the biggest threats facing the Kuna people. While the Kuna of San Bias
currently have a relatively high degree of self-government, the Kuna reserve was
terminated in the 1970s because of conflicts over a government-sponsored tourist
project. The differences were worked out and the termination was rescinded,
however, this episode demonstrates the precariousness of any arrangement that
indigenous peoples make with a State that is not recognized and reinforced by
Recently, the Panamanian government wants to rescind the protected status of
Kuna Yala and open it to the landless poor. The problem is by opening the reserve
the government is guaranteeing the destruction of the land. By destroying the land it
means the end of the Kuna way of life. Leonidas Valdez, second general chief of
Kuna Yala, warns If we were to lose these lands there would be no culture, and there
would be no people.296
With the exception of one brief war, the Kuna have managed to work within
the Panamanian system of government to achieve what other indigenous peoples have
295 Aichibold and Davey, supra note 277, 56.
296 Ibid, 57.
had to fight for and still not attain. They have found peaceful means to find
compromise with the Panamanian State. And though there are several problems that
are facing the Kuna people, they are still finding ways to survive.
Philosophical Impact of Carta Orsanica and Law 16
Possibly because of their isolation and lack of direct strategic importance
(their land was not needed for the Panama Canal itself or for the maintenance of
military installations), they have achieved more substantive rights than other ethno-
nations. Despite the evidence of colonization and problems with the government, the
Comarca system allows the Kuna of San Bias to maintain their traditional identity,
culture and lands. To a large degree, they can control their own development.
Through the aid of international organizations such as the World Wildlife Fund and
World Bank, they are using the interests of the dominant culture to their advantage.
The Carta Organica and Law 16 allow the Kuna of San Bias increased
freedom to pursue Self-government, as opposed to self-administration, more than any
other agreement between a State and indigenous peoples. With the exception of
foreign relations, which are not addressed, it provides the Kuna people with a
significant foundation on which to build their future. The system has lead to a
reconsideration of accepted models of political action and process, the nature of
leadership, faction, interest, and alignment, democratic theory, and community power
The Romani of Europe
Romani are Europes largest minority, yet European governments have had
difficulty developing policies to deal with Romani. There are, at a minimum,
approximately eight million Romani live across Europe, with a majority living in
central and eastern regions.297 298 The uniqueness of the Roma lies in the fact that they
are a transnational, non-territorial based people.299 They are without a homeland or
a fixed seat of government.300 Unlike the cases of the Inuit of Greenland or the Kuna
of Panama the Romani do not consider themselves an indigenous peoples, yet like
the Inuit and the Kuna they consider themselves a peoples/ethno-nation.
No one truly knows where the Romani originated. There is no written history
but instead pass-on centuries of knowledge through oral tradition.301 Some myths
claim the Romani are originally from Egypt, or were local people who intentionally
darkened their skin and who spoke a deliberately concocted secret language.302
297 Romani are also referred to as Roma, Sinti, or more incorrectly Gypsies. In much of Europe they
are known as Isigane.
298 njjjg RomaEurpoes Largest Minority,"
299 Zoltan Barany, East European studies an Occasional Paper, number 50; Memory and Experience:
Anti-Roma Prejudice in Eastern Europe,"July 1998,
300 Gypsy Kings, Economist 37, Issue 7811, (5/15/93): 62.
301 A lack of written history makes it difficult to know where the Romani originated and also difficult
for them to prove their past: as in the case of the Holocaust.
Linguists and anthropologists believe the Romani were originally a nomadic tribe
from India, and reached Europe in the first quarter century.302 303 304
Discrimination Against the Romani
Romani were not always the scapegoats of Europe. There was a time when
they were able to live with the gadjes?M They had the ability to travel across Europe
and help other Europeans prosper:
They had talents that enabled them to participate in the
economies of the regions they crossed. They had no
ambitions to conquer, but wherever they went, presented
themselves as craftspeople, artists and traders. They were
independent workers, committed to being masters on
their own time, intent on making an earning from odd, on-
the-spot jobs and with enough skills to meet the requests
and needs of a dispersed clientele.305
Yet, as time passed, European governments went to great lengths ensuring Romani
were/are portrayed as foreigners and antisocial people without a culture of their
own.306 The stereotype of the Romani can be characterized by one name: Gypsies.307
302 Ian Hancock, The Struggle for Control of Identity,
303 Analysis has shown the Romani language is related to languages spoken in Northern India and
Pakistan, such as Hindi and Pujabi. Indians have accepted this correlation and called the Romani their
lost brothers. Ali Arayici, The Gypsy Minority in Europe-Some Considerations, International
Social Science Journal 50, no. 2, (June 1998): 10.
304 Gadjes is the Romani word for non-Romani.
305 Mori, Tiniani, Renieers, Solimano, Gypsies: Trapped on the Fringes of Europe, UNESCO
Courier. (Jun 2000): 38.
Gypsies refer to themselves as Roma, Sinti or Romani (the people in their
language).307 308 Theyve rejected the label of Gypsy, a name imposed from the outside,
and chosen Rom, a designation adopted by the United Nations.309
The Beginning of Discrimination
Seen as scapegoats, for their non-conformity, Romani have suffered through
several injustices. They were kept against their will as slave laborers until the mid
Roma were often enslaved and lynched with impunity. A
disproportionate number still end up in prison. Many Gypsy
children are virtually bereft of parents: in Romanias wretched
orphanages, three-quarters of the inhabitants are Gypsies.
Just to finish school is a feat. They often suffer instant
discrimination based on the color of their skin. They
frequently complain of police harassment.311
The greatest form of injustice occurred during Nazi Germany. It is estimated
that 600,000 to 1.5 million of 2 million Romani were killed during the Holocaust.312
307 Gypsies are simply fortune tellers, carnival acts, thieves and travelers who are out to swindle
people. Romani, Roma, Sinti are a peoples.
308 With these names they are no longer considered a problem but instead an ethno-nation.
309 UNESCO, supra note 305,1984.
310 Ralph Bennet, Are the Gypsies Black? Blacfax 6, Issue 27, (Winter/Spring 94): 7.
311 The Gypsy Awakening, Economist, A Gypsy Awakening. Economist 352, Issue 8136,
312 It is hard to determine the exact number because, though the Nazis kept impeccable, many of the
murders were not recorded, since they took place in the fields and forests where Roma were
The Devouring (as the Romani call it) claimed at least 1/3 of their people.313 The
Nazi era allowed for a classification where racial considerations provided the rational
for genocidal obliteration.314 The Romani were considered undesirable, and suffered
a similar, if not worse, fate to the Jews.315 Before the war started, Nazis rounded-
up Romani. June of 1936, six hundred Romani were taken to a camp near Marzahn,
but this was only the beginning. In 1937, Romani lost their citizenship and were
eventually deported to concentration camps. In January, 1940, the first mass
genocidal action of the Holocaust took place when 250 Romani children were
murdered in Buchenwald, where they were used as guinea-pigs to test the efficacy of
cyanide gas crystals.316 Byl941, the Nazis started mass Romani extermination.317
Nazi procedures were developed how to identify, transport and exterminate infected
individuals (the Romani).318
313 U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council, Fifty Years after the eve of Destruction Days of Remembrance
April 30-May 7, 1989.
3,4 Hancock, supra note 302.
315 Jurg Steiner, European Democracies, (Addison-Esley Educational Publishers Inc, 1998).
316 Ian Hancock, Genocide of the Roma in the Holocaust,
jl7 Isabel Fonseca Bury Me Standing: The Gypsies and Their Journey, (New York: Vintage
Departures, 1995), 261.
318 Stories of doctors performing medical procedures on Romani: some poking out childrens eyes.
Stories circulated that local police would do the Nazis favors by shooting Romani on the spot. U.S.
Holocaust Memorial Council, supra note 313.
The gadjes have failed to acknowledge the Devouring.319 Not a single
Romani was asked to give evidence at the Nuremburg Trials.320 In war-crimes trials,
Nazis attempted to justify-or differentiate-the killing of Gypsies by stating that they
had been punished as criminals, not as Gypsies per se."nx As late as 1985, a
mainstream German politician said that reference to Gypsies suffering at the hands of
Nazis insulted the honor of the memory of Holocaust victims.322 In 1956, the
German Supreme Court ruled Romani deported before 1943 were not entitled to
compensation because they were considered antisocial.323
Some of the racial discourse toward the Romani has been reversed. In his
speech accepting the Noble Peace Prize, Else Wiesel, the Jewish campaigner for
Holocaust victims, asked the Romani for forgiveness for not listening to their
story.324 Until recently, according to a leading Romani campaigner, Romani
319 Recently George W. Bush has removed the position of a Romani seat at the annual Holocaust
Memorial. It was only in April 14, 1994, the US Holocaust Memorial Museum held its first
commemoration of Romani victims and Bush has ended the Romani representation, ultimately denying
recognition of their suffering. In the U.S. Holocaust Museum has barely included the Romani as part
of its Museum; a display of Romani abuses on the third floor in a comer set aside for other victims.
Hancock, Genocide..., supra note 316.
320 The failure of the Trials to ask for the testimony of the Romani is further failure of non-Romanis
to acknowledge the Romanis holocaust and a further example discrimination of the Romani. Some
Romani scholars believe that the lack of Romani struggles and testimony have led to neo-Nazi activity
in Germany where the Romani are the prime targets for racial violence. Hancock, Genocide...,
supra note 316.
32' Fonseca, supra note 317, 274.
322 Jasper Gerard. The Daily Telegraph, (London: June 17, 2000), 11.
323 The New York Times, Gypsies and the Holocaust, (Aug 14, 2000), 22.
324 A Gypsy Awakening, supra note 311,59.
scarcely spoke of the Holocaust. Jews said, Never forget. We said, Never
remember.325 The worldwide Commemoration of Romani Victims, on August 1-2,
2000. hoped to develop the message that far from an asocial problem, as defined by
Hitler, Romani are a fast awakening nation demanding recognition and rights. With
Romani organizations in some forty countries taking part, the Commemoration of
Romani Victims was largest collective act of Romani remembrance.326
It is increasingly recognized that the status of the Romani is among the
primary perennial human rights issues in Europe. The exposure to human rights
abuses to which Romani are subjected is jarring. Romani in Central and Eastern
Europe have, throughout the 1990s, been subjected to a wave of violence by
ideological racists, by their neighbors and by the very police officers assigned to
shield Romani individuals from violent abuse. Romani suffer discrimination in nearly
all spheres of life: education, housing, employment, access to health care and social
326Puxon, Grattan. ROMA VICTIMS REMEMBERED.' Ustiben Report.
327 Claude Cahn, Human Rights and Roma: Whats the Connection? in Claude Cahn, ed., Roma
Rights: Race, Justice, and Strategies for Equality, (New York: International Debate Education
Association, 2002), 18.