Sociology Index


As currently envisaged by federal and provincial governments, self government is not equivalent to territorial sovereignty, although it implies extensive legal autonomy within the general framework of the federal government's overriding power to make provision for ‘peace, order and good government’. Every nation of people may not be capable of self-government. But it has been proved that an educated and enlightened people are capable of self-government. For some First Nations peoples the idea of self-government is an acknowledgment of nationhood. For these groups their status as self-determining nations was never given up through colonization or treaties, so to have self-government recognized is seen as an acknowledgment of this earlier nationhood.

"[The] voluntary support of laws, formed by persons of their own choice, distinguishes peculiarly the minds capable of self-government. The contrary spirit is anarchy, which of necessity produces despotism." - Thomas Jefferson to Philadelphia Citizens, 1809.

While the term self-government is as yet without a clear definition, as used by the federal government it means something like self-determination. "Every man, and every body of men on earth, possesses the right of self-government." - Thomas Jefferson.

"We are a people capable of self-government, and worthy of it." - Thomas Jefferson to Isaac Weaver, Jr.

Japan’s system of local self-government is founded on two main principles,

First, it provides for the right to establish autonomous local public entities that are, to a certain extent, independent of the national government.

Second, it embraces the idea of “citizens’ self-government,” by which residents of these local areas participate in and handle, to varying degrees, activities of the local public entities. Japan’s system of local self-government originates in the pre–World War II period, primarily from the concept of autonomous local entities. After the war, the concept of citizens’ self-government was incorporated to a greater extent.

European Charter of Local Self-Government (Strasbourg, 15 October 1985).
The European Charter of Local Self-Government opened for signature by the member States of the Council of Europe on 15 October 1985 and entered into force on 9 September 1988. The Committee of the Regions of the European Union calls for the principle of local self-government, as defined by the Charter, to be included in the Community treaties. Moreover, the Committee of the Regions works together with the Council of Europe's Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe with a view to monitoring the implementation of the Charter.

Prepared by: Jill Wherrett, Political and Social Affairs Division.
Prior to contact with Europeans, Aboriginal peoples relied on a variety of distinctive ways to organize their political systems and institutions. Later, many of these institutions were ignored or legally suppressed while the federal government attempted to impose a uniform set of vastly different Euro-Canadian political ideals on Aboriginal societies.

Aboriginal Title and Self-Government in Canada: What is the True Scope of Comprehensive Land Claims Agreements? - Jennifer E. Dalton. Abstract: This article argues that there is currently insufficient recognition by the Canadian government of Aboriginal title and self-government as crucial components of comprehensive land claims agreements. While formal government recognition of Aboriginal self-government has occurred, for the most part comprehensive agreements do not incorporate robust conceptions of self-government.