11 December 2018, 15:06

The Crimean Tatar people and their right to self-determination

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SULEIMAN MAMUT

The broad international community is not aware of or does not recognise the utmost importance of the position and the vision of the Crimean Tatar people with regard to the present and future of Crimea

Raising the profile of struggle of the Crimean Tatar people for their rights at the international arena can be viewed as a tool, rather than an aim.

The reality of international policy and law establishes a set of unwritten rules and standards to be followed by those who seek for a recognition of their capacity and personality both at national and international levels.

The best way to implement aforesaid plan is to establish think-tank/s which will form the respective policies of the Crimean Tatar people.

QHA media begins publishing a series of essays on what should be the mechanism of the struggle of the Crimean Tatars for their rights. These materials were selected based on the result of a competition among young specialists in the field of social studies, which was conducted by the Crimean Institute for Strategic Studies.

The proposed essay topic was: The Crimean Tatar people aim at raising profile of the struggle for their rights at the international arena. What would be your advice and suggestions to the Crimean Tatar civic and political activists? Please specify available political, legal, as well as media tools and/or action mechanism


The visibility of the Crimean Tatar people at the international arena was raised to some extent in 2014, in the process of the temporary occupation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol.


The most reputable world media outlets, among them the Financial Times, the Economist, the New York Times etc., did not forget to mention the Crimean Tatar people, their position and expectations. While some media tried to outline at least a brief background depicting the history of the Crimean Tatar people, others indicated the mere fact that a certain minority ethnic group in Crimea openly questioned the myth of the Russian Federation on the alleged unanimity voiced by the so-called “Crimean people” during the illegal referendum.


The awareness of the problems of the Crimean Tatar people has been significantly improved at the international fora when compared to the pre-occupation level, thanks to the consistent efforts of Ukrainian state, international organisations and non-state actors. Adoption of resolutions by the United Nations General Assembly, EU Parliament, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe on various matters such as commitment to the territorial integrity of Ukraine or the human rights situation in the occupied peninsula, serves as a strong evidence that Crimean issue was not erased from the international agenda. However, these successful cases also do not prove that the world adequately realises the scale of risks stemming from the Russian aggression.

In this context, I assume that raising the profile of struggle of the Crimean Tatar people for their rights at the international arena can be viewed as a tool, rather than an aim. At this, implementation of and respect to the right of the Crimean Tatar people to the self-determination at the Ukrainian and international levels should be prioritised as one of the main goals which, in case of achievement, can successfully turn into an opportunity for the sustainable development at the political, economic and cultural levels.


Raising the profile of struggle of the Crimean Tatar people for their rights at the international arena can be viewed as a tool, rather than an aim.

It is clear, though, that the broad international community is not aware of or does not recognise the utmost importance of the position and the vision of the Crimean Tatar people with regard to the present and future of Crimea. In addition, the Crimean Tatar people face another substantial risk – diminishing and de facto denial of their personality and capacity as an actor. Indeed, documents and reports produced by international organisations mention Crimean Tatar people or their representatives as an object suffering from the systemic and targeted rights’ violation, both individual and collective. Moreover, the Crimean Tatar people are usually referred to as a “community” or an “ethnic group” as opposed to “people” – the term, which is expressly envisaged in international law and used primarily in connection with the right of self-determination.


Thus, this paper will focus on the possible solutions to the following issues:

• how to change the attitude of international community towards the Crimean Tatar people in way so they are viewed and deemed as a strong actor, which is capable to freely determine its political status, assume responsibility for and freely pursue its economic, social and cultural development;
• how to ensure that the Crimean Tatar people are engaged to the decision-making process (both at the national level and globally) with regard to all issues related to Crimea;
• how to ensure that the Crimean Tatar people’s right to the self-determination is recognised and respected both at the national (Ukraine) and international levels.


The recipe for the first issue seems to be quite simple. Logically, if you want to be treated and considered by others as an actor (as opposed to an object), the capacity of which is not questioned – you should think and act respectively. The definition “legal capacity” says about “the legal right of a person to make particular decisions, have particular responsibilities”. I assume that the reality of international policy and law establishes a set of unwritten rules and standards to be followed by those who seek for a recognition of their capacity and personality both at national and international levels. Among them are:

a) positions, decisions and actions of the actor are of high quality, logical, consistent, based on solid analysis and form a comprehensive system visible to all other actors;
b) this system operationalises and reflects an assertive policy which is expressed at all relevant fora affirmatively as if this actor is supported by the absolute majority;
c) actor is ready to publicly assume the responsibility for all of its decisions, including issues concerning its internal development.


It means that the Crimean Tatar people should develop their own position, vision and strategy on a wide range of issues, problems and challenges, particularly in respect to:

i) their internal development, preservation of culture and language;
ii) development of Crimea in the number of areas (political, environmental, transitional justice etc.)
iii) some issues in the area of international relations
iv) global challenges (climate change, pollution etc.)

It means that the Crimean Tatar people should develop their own position, vision and strategy on a wide range of issues, problems and challenges, particularly in respect to:
i) their internal development, preservation of culture and language;
ii) development of Crimea in the number of areas (political, environmental, transitional justice etc.)
iii) some issues in the area of international relations
iv) global challenges (climate change, pollution etc.)


It is worth to mention that such position/vision and strategy should be based on generally accepted values and principles – humanity, justice, restoration of historical injustices, rights of indigenous peoples, including the right to self-determination, exercised in conformity with international law.


Such efforts will extend the scope of knowledge and increase the authority of the Crimean Tatar people, its representative institutions among external actors. According to the world’s best practices, the best way to implement aforesaid plan is to establish think-tank/s which will form the respective policies of the Crimean Tatar people.


Once implemented, these measures will substantially contribute to the engagement of the Crimean Tatar people to the decision making process. Firm position and action plans, based on a solid analysis, even if expressed by an absolute minority, have a lot of chances to be anchored and taken into consideration in the decision or law making processes.


The system of knowledge, institutions and behavioural patterns, established as a result of implementation of aforesaid program, can lay down some essential prerequisites necessary for efficient implementation of the right to the self-determination irrespective of the legislative process.


I believe that media tools can play a significant role in underpinning this program, specifically the analytical work developed by the think-tank/s. Hence, analytical papers produced by such think-tank/s should be in compliance with standards of leading research centres such as the Brookings Institution, the Atlantic Council and other think-tanks operating under the world’s TOP-50 universities. A comprehensive program aimed at systematic publishing at the mentioned research centres should be prepared. Additional efforts should be taken in order to pave the way to the pages of the Economist, the Guardian, the Financial Times and other reputable media-outlets. These steps will enormously contribute to the high-profile advocacy of the Crimean Tatar people at the international arena and expansion of their position globally.


To have a clear position at the international organisations and foreign diplomatic missions a think-tank or other designated person should prepare a comprehensive stakeholders’ analysis. It shall include, among other parameters, perspectives of advocating for certain positions at the particular organisation/mission, its interests and influence given the respective mandate. A separate analysis should be dedicated to successful cases and best practices of similar actors, their strategies and detailed argumentation. Therefore, stakeholders’ analysis can amplify efficacy of advocacy activities.


An example of the advocacy message that the Crimean Tatar people can promote as the actor, referring to collective rights guaranteed by the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, is the following:

• violation of the Crimean Tatar people’s right to the self-determination as indigenous as an additional ground for illegality of the temporary occupation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol
It is consistent both with Ukrainian and international law, logical and what is more important – it shows that the Crimean Tatar people, despite all hardships caused by the temporary occupation, decisively struggle for their rights stemming from the right of the self-determination, no matter how cruel and powerful is the perpetrator.


I hope that in the nearest future we will prepare long-awaited, comprehensive programs, studies policies, advocacy messages and strategies that will be efficiently communicated at the highest international level and harmoniously reflect capacity and personality of the Crimean Tatar people as decent and strong actor.