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Leader of the FF Plus addresses UNPO in the Scottish parliament on political change and self-determination

Self-determination is an internationally acknowledged and accepted principle that affords minority groups the right to protect themselves against assimilation and their consequent disappearance into the majority.

This was the gist of the presentation given by dr. Pieter Groenewald, leader of the FF Plus, at the run-up to UNPO’s (Unrepresented Nations & Peoples Organization) thirteenth general assembly in the Scottish parliament in Edinburgh.

The theme of the event is: “Sharing Perspectives on the Rights of the Unrepresented on the Eve of UNPO's thirteenth General Assembly”. The title of dr. Groenewald’s presentation was: “The power of advocacy to foster political change”.

Amongst other things, dr. Groenewald said that self-determination denotes the legal right of people to determine their own destiny in the international order. Self-determination is a core principle of international law and arose from customary international law. It is also recognized as a general principle of law and is enshrined in a number of international treaties.

He said that self-determination is protected in the United Nations Charter and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights as a right of “all peoples.”

The rest of dr. Groenewald’s presentation:

 

Presentation by dr PJ (Pieter) Groenewald, leader of the Freedom Front Plus in South Africa and representative of the Afrikaner as a member of the Unrepresented Nations & Peoples Organization (UNPO) on 26 June 2017 in Edinburgh Scotland, UK.

Contemporary notions of self-determination usually distinguish between internal and external self-determination, suggesting that self-determination usually lies somewhere in between the two. Internal self-determination may refer to various political and social rights; by contrast, external self-determination refers to a group’s full legal independence from the larger politico-legal state. (Legal Information Institute).

Internationally, self-determination is considered as an acceptable method of solving the problems of minority and oppressed (unrepresented) groups of people.

The unique situation of every country and every group requires a different form of self-determination. The unfortunate truth is that governments never consider self-determination as the primary solution to the problem. Governments simply do not want to concede minority rights or allow self-determination. No government will easily grant others power or restructure its governmental system in order to accommodate minority groups.

Governments usually first opt for the solutions of either assimilation (become part of the majority) or acculturation (abandon your own culture and become like us – in SA, become English) or even absorption.

In the 19th century, more than 150 years ago, the French writer, Alexis de Tocqueville, aptly summarised the dilemma of minorities: “The minority is expected to become part of the majority, but they can only do this if they are willing to let go of the things that are important to them and that cause conflict between them and the majority.”

Enough people need to stand up and speak out against oppression and assimilation and be in favour of minority and self-determination rights before a government will pay any attention to it.

Depending on the nature of the oppression, there are two ways in which self-determination can be achieved, namely by violent or non-violent methods. Achieving one’s goals by non-violent means must always be a priority. If you chose to go the non-violent route, you can achieve your self-determination goals and bring about political change through advocacy. This brings us to the topic of: “The power of advocacy to foster political change”.

 

Definition of advocacy:

Advocacy is an organised political process that involves the coordinated efforts of people to bring about positive changes for your community/your ethnic minority/your supporters by identifying issues, taking a stand, mobilising resources, organising structures and mechanisms and implementing strategies to influence decision making.

Methods that might be expensive:

Using public media to shape public opinion
Using social media to communicate with specific groups
Conducting research
Using pollsters
Organising fundraisers
Lobbying decision makers
Organising constituency groups
Training and the development of the leadership skills of your members/supporters
Building coalitions with other groups with similar problems/aims

Groups need to stand together to have a stronger voice. There are various different advocacy groups because people’s priorities and issues are very different. However, uniting for a common cause will amplify your collective voice. Therefore, cooperate in order to effectively work towards achieving shared goals and objectives in an inclusive framework.

Other types of resources that cost nothing:

The power of organised people
The power of information, statistics and knowledge
The power of moral convictions
The power of constitutional guarantees
The power of economic, social, cultural and political rights

When rights are enshrined in laws and international conventions – such as the freedom of speech, freedom of association and other political and civil rights – they provide a legal framework for action. In such cases, advocacy is about compliance, enforcement, fighting double standards and equal protection. Be familiar with the systems in place in order to be able to document and report human rights violations and to file complaints with the government and international organisations.

When rights are not enshrined in law, as is the case with most economic, social and cultural rights that relate to, for example, the environment, healthcare, etc., then advocacy focuses on changing legislation and policy.

Self-determination is not ready made. There are different stages of self-determination that you must go through before the ultimate goal is achieved.

An important stage is to mobilise a community or ethnic group.

The aim is to mobilise enough people to achieve your goals by putting pressure on the government.

Mobilisation needs a vehicle, so to speak. It will quite often be a political party, but it can also be a cultural organisation, a civil organisation or all of these.

It is easy to mobilise people that have grievances: if they are economically oppressed and struggling – use it against the government. If they are culturally oppressed (language, education, traditions) – use these grievances to get them to mobilise against the government.

However, grievances only get you so far. Then you need to persuade the people by offering them a dream. Create the expectation that a better dispensation will follow if the goals are achieved. Mobilisation can be considered successful if one is able to get about 20% of the group involved.

What to do with the mobilised group:

Peaceful actions like protest marches, the group provides bargaining power and support in negotiations with the government and possible participation in elections and referendums.

From experience it is clear that if one uses violent rather than non-violent methods, there is a great risk that the majority will turn against you. Even the greater part of your own group that prefer peace and order may turn against you. The exception would be self-defence in reaction to state violence towards yourself and your organisation.

What reaction can one expect from the government?

Governments will opt for the easiest solutions that benefit them:

Assimilation and acculturation

Then i) they will ignore your movement and cause

Then ii) they will ridicule the stupidity and infeasibility of what you stand for

Then iii) the government may offer some unsatisfactory compromises for some of your demands regarding education and other matters.

If that fails, then iv) often follows: oppression and banning your leaders, your propagandistic material, your radio stations, publications, etc.

Only when there is enough pressure and it becomes clear to the government that the group will not conform, may they agree to consider more difficult solutions. These solutions may be: acknowledging your rights, ethnic pluralism, minority rights, autonomy, cultural and territorial self-determination.

What are the risks for you and your organisation during such a struggle?

Intolerance amongst members, because they may not all agree on the smaller details of the ultimate goal.

Division. When the government makes concessions, individuals may react differently. Some may view it as a step in the right direction, while others may reject it as a cheap attempt at bribery and diluting the ultimate goal.

When your movement becomes successful, a definite risk is that other organisations may try to hijack it because they want to ride your coat tails in order to attain their own objectives.

 

In conclusion:

Learn from other unrepresented groups about strategies that have proven to be successful in advancing their agendas. These groups (women, HIV-pressure groups, people from religious minorities, etc.) can provide insight from the lessons they learnt and offer advice about methods that work well and those that don’t. Give yourself a head start by gathering background information and focusing your efforts on tried-and-tested approaches.

This is one of the advantages of UNPO, we can share our thoughts and experiences and learn from one another in the process.

 

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