HC Deb 07 November 1955 vol 545 cc1459-60
48. Mr. Younger

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs why Her Majesty's Government, while accepting the principle of self-determination of peoples, has opposed in the General Assembly of the United Nations a declaration contained in an Article of the draft Covenant of Human Rights that all peoples and all nations shall have the right of self-determination.

Mr. H. Macmillan

I assume that the right hon. Gentleman is referring to Article I of the draft Covenant. We have opposed this Article because, in Her Majesty's Government's view, self-determination relates to peoples and not to individuals, and has no place in Covenants which are concerned with individual human rights.

Mr. Younger

Whilst appreciating that one can make nonsense of almost any principle by pushing it to an extreme in its application, may I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he does not think that we are rather niggling over this? Is he not giving the impression that the British Government do not in fact support the principle of self-determination but, whenever that issue arises, they will simply deal with it as a matter of convenience, whether in the case of Eastern Germany, the Saar, or Cyprus, or somewhere else?

Mr. Macmillan

I do not think so. This Covenant deals with individual human rights, such as the right of free speech, right of trial and all the rest, and to apply self-determination to a document of this kind seems to us quite out of place.

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