The aim of exercising the right to self-determination can also be formulated in terms of human needs and security. Peoples and communities strive to gain control over the means to satisfy their human needs. From this perspective, security includes cultural integrity and respect for human rights and freedom. The need for security is often the prime objective in the struggle for self-determination, when peoples have been facing oppression, deportations, forced assimilation, religious persecutions, etc.
Since 1984, the United Nations has been formulating a draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The draft declaration was adopted by the Working Group on Indigenous Populations in 1994 and endorsed by its parent body, the Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities the same year. Since 1995, a special Working Groups of the Commission on Human Rights has been working on the draft declaration. Article 3 of the draft declaration reads as follows:
“Indigenous peoples have the right of self-determination. By virtue of their right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.”
It is clear that the principle and fundamental right of self-determination for the Zomi is firmly established in international law, including human rights law, and that it must therefore be applied equally and universally. Indigenous Zo peoples can thus not be denied this fundamental right.
Although autonomy and self-government may be the principal means through which the right of self-determination will be exercised by indigenous Zo peoples, their right or self-determination cannot be qualified as something less than that of other peoples’ right of self-determination. This would be tantamount to saying that there are different classes of “peoples”.
The Zomi’s right of self-determination can be implemented through various mechanisms and arrangements within the framework of a nation state. However, in cases where the right of self-determination of indigenous Zo peoples is exercised through autonomy and self-government arrangements, it is crucial that adequate mechanisms are developed at national as well as international level, in order to ensure that the Zomi stays together as one under a single administrative unit and govern themselves in the way of their own choosing.