ARTICLE
The Notion of the Nation from a Legal Perspective of Law, Including Human Rights Standards
 
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Uniwersytet Mikołaja Kopernika w Toruniu
Publication date: 2021-08-21
 
Stosunki Międzynarodowe – International Relations 2020;56(4)
 
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ABSTRACT
The article examines the place and role of the notion of the nation in contemporary law, highlighting doubts about the very concept, especially the definition of the nation, as well as, on the other hand, pointing out that it is still widely and considerably used in the law. In the constitutions of contemporary states, the nation is expressis verbis indicated in the preambles, as the source of the state and the constitution itself and, at the same time, referred to in their introductory articles as the holder of supreme power in the state. The above regards a ‘living nation’ which expresses itself through the will and voices of active citizens. In international law, the importance of the nation is evidenced by the very name of this field, especially in conjunction with the purpose and principle of selfdetermination of nations, enshrined in the UN Charter itself, and then creatively codified. In the author’s opinion, the notion of the nation is also important – despite its removal in official interpretative practice – for the proper understanding of the obligations in the field of preventing and combating the crime of genocide, the victim of which can also be a nation. In international human rights standards, the role of the nation is embodied in the exercise of electoral rights and in the functioning of electoral systems, as their primary function is to express the will of the nation. In particular, the value of the concept of a nation appears in the context of the derogation of states’ obligations in extreme situations, as it is precisely the ‘threat to the nation’s life’ that constitutes the general criterion for the legitimacy of derogatory measures, and thus also the introduction of emergency measures. In all the above spheres of law, it is a living nation being referred to, which is not only prevented from being subject to physical extermination, but also politically efficient, as it has the basic guarantees of functioning as the holder of supreme power through its citizens and their representatives/parliaments.
ISSN:0209-0961