Self-determination: a study

Reading law student Chantelle Bacchus was awarded a prize at the British Conference of Undergraduate Research last month.

The opportunity to do a research project came about as part of the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Programme (UROP) offered by the University of Reading to selected students from a number of disciplines.

It was a fantastic six weeks, exploring different sources, debating and creating hypotheses, educating myself and becoming attached to a very important part of human rights law: self-determination and peoplehood.

I was very much aware from the beginning that my research was going to contribute to my supervisor Robert Barnidge’s current project: Self-determination, statehood, and the law of negotiations: the case of Palestine and its engagement with international institution.

Prior to the research, I needed to study the aspects of international law relevant to complete the programme successfully and I was very proud to submit my research paper to Dr Barnidge after his support throughout the process.

I then presented my project at the conference. It was a tremendous experience. The amount of effort that the participants and staff put in to making the conference a success was undeniable. Of course, being a winner was the cherry on the cake and I am grateful to the judges for presenting me with such an award.

With a view to the short term, I have decided to complete a dissertation in my final year on An exploration of the effects of neo-colonialism on the rights of self-determination, minority rights and indigenous rights within international law.

I am excited to be working with my new supervisor, Tawhida Ahmed at the University of Reading, as I have become attached to the importance of self-determination; a people’s right to govern themselves either internally, within the state or externally, becoming an independent state.

My long terms plans include pursuing a career solely in or involving human rights and civil liberties. At this stage, I have been presented with two options – the pursuit of postgraduate study leading to an academic career or training to become a solicitor. However, for this moment, I am contented with the fact that I know where my passion lies.