SUKHUM / AQW'A — Former UN Independent Expert on the Promotion of a Democratic and Equitable International Order, Alfred-Maurice de Zayas, has voiced his opinions on the status of Abkhazia and South Ossetia and the universal right of self-determination.
Alfred-Maurice de Zayas, an American lawyer and writer with a rich history of engagement in human rights and international law, recently took to X.com (Twitter) to express his perspectives on the controversies surrounding Abkhazia and South Ossetia. From 1 May 2012 to 30 April 2018, de Zayas held the significant position of being the first UN Independent Expert on the Promotion of a Democratic and Equitable International Order, an appointment made by the United Nations Human Rights Council.
In a series of tweets, de Zayas commented:
- "Abkhazia and South Ossetia are independent States. Only they have a right to determine their own future. But if the West persists in sanctioning them, they may themselves, for their own welfare, seek reunification with Russia."
- "The right of self-determination of peoples is an inalienable right. It means that a people has a right to autonomy or independence from a State that oppresses them, and also have the right to seek incorporation into another State, if they so wish. Rights-holders of self-determination are peoples, not states, which are the duty-bearers and must implement it, not impede it."
- "States do NOT have the prerogative to grant or deny self-determination, because self-determination is a jus cogens entitlement of peoples. Article 1 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights is clear on this."
- "Paragraph 80 of the Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice on Kosovo is clear that the principle of territorial integrity can only be invoked externally vis a vis other States, but not internally so as to frustrate the self-determination of peoples."
- "It is not self-determination that causes wars, but the unjust denial thereof. Hundreds of wars since 1945 have been fought over the right of peoples to rule themselves. It is the function of the UN to facilitate this."
The statements add to the ongoing international discourse on the rights of regions and peoples to determine their own futures, and how such aspirations align with or deviate from existing international norms and laws.