• P. Tahmindjis


Allegations of slavery are not normally the stuff of Australian law and politics in the latter half of the twentieth century.However, on 30 August 1972, the majority of Australians were first made aware that Australian territory included the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, mere crumbs on the map of the Indian Ocean, where what appeared to be a feudal kingdom of Malay slaves was run by a barefoot Caucasion monarch replete with a dagger at his waist. The media seized upon this exotic scenario about which most Australians were totally ignorant. A little less than fourteen years later, on 6 April 1984, in what was described by Australian and United Nations officials as an act of self-determination, the Cocos Islanders voted for integration of the islands with Australia. The events of the intervening period shed some light on the Australian approach to self-determination and on the content and reality of any rules of self-determination, including the conjunction and disjunction between them and human rights generally. This is despite the salutory warning of Judge Dillard in the Western Sahara Case (It is for the people to determine the destiny of the territory and not the territory the destiny of the people'), since the approach to self-determination in the Cocos Islands and its result cannot be properly understood outside the historical (and lego-historical) context. Moreover, these events illuminate the broader issues of the auto-interpretative aspect of international law and the effect of the latter on Australian law.
Dec 1, 1985
How to Cite
TAHMINDJIS, P.. AUSTRALIA, THE COCOS ISLANDS AND SELF-DETERMINATION. QUT Law Review, [S.l.], v. 1, n. 1, p. 177-198, dec. 1985. ISSN 2201-7275. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 01 feb. 2021. doi:
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