Document Type


Date of Award



History of Bangladesh, Bangladesh Liberation War, 1971, National self-determination

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Political Science

First Advisor

Edward Weisband

Second Advisor

Arthur K. Smith

Third Advisor

Richard H. Dekmejian


This study deals with the evolution of the right of self-determination of all peoples, majority or minority, within nation-states, and the application to Bengalis within the State of Pakistan the Principle of Equal Rights and Self-determination of Peoples set forth in the UN Declaration on Principles of International Law Concerning Friendly Relations and Cooperation Among States in Accordance with the Charter of the United Nations (1970).

The study is divided into ten chapters. Chapter I sets forth the purpose and organization of the study. Chapter II enamines the evolution of the right of self-determination of peoples through ancient, medieval and modern times, and shows how the inalienable right of self-determination of peoples, recognized in the customary international law, has now been transformed into a “human right” under the UN International Covenants of Human Rights (1966), and a “legal right” under the UN Declaration on Principles of International Law (1970).

Chapter III deals with the application of the Principle to Bengalis. It concludes that, in view of Pakistani Military Regime’s denial of internal self-determination to Bengalis, and its use of force to perpetuate subjugation, domination and exploitation of Bengalis, they were entitled to exercise their inalienable right of self-determination and independence, which they did on April 10, 1971, in accordance with the Principle. Chapter IV examines Pakistani violations of international penal law, namely, the Nuremberg Principles, Genocide Convention and human rights provisions of the UN Charter and relevant Covenants and Conventions, and concludes that Pakistan had forfeited its right to rule the Bengalis.

Chapter V deals with the UN handling of the problem of 10 million Bengali refugees in India. Chapter VI critically examines the UN attitude toward the gross violations of human rights in Bangladesh and shows how the UN Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities failed to deal with them, despite appeals made by certain UN Member States and international non-governmental organizations. Chapter VII enamines the attitude of the Security Council, the General Assembly and the Secretary General towards the political crisis in Bangladesh and shows how they failed to deal with the situation constituting a potential threat to peace and security. Chapter VIII deals with the UN consideration of the Indo-Pakistan War and shows how the Security Council was obliged to accept as fait accompli the existence of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, when the Pakistani forces surrendered to the Joint India-Bangladesh Command on December 16, 1971.

Chapter IX examines various principles involved in the Bangladesh crisis relating to the rights and privileges of refugees, domestic jurisdiction, non-intervention, right of self-defense against “civilian” and armed aggressions, humanitarian intervention, and intervention to promote self-determination.

Chapter X concludes that even though the UN and its Member States had failed to apply the Principle to Bengalis, the right of self-determination and independence proclaimed by the Bengalis was perfectly lawful under the Principle. It emphasizes that states should comply with the Principle and possess a government representing the whole people belonging to the territory without distinction as to race, creed, or color, rather than driving its people to assert their right of self-determination and independence under compelling circumstances, thereby causing disintegration of the territorial integrity of the state. And finally, it recommends that the United Nations should devise a set of criteria to recognize the claims of such peoples for self-determination and independence, and establish an international machinery, such as the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and an International Court of Human Rights to deal with such claims in the future.