Lani E. Medina


In the case of Puerto Rico, the exercise of self-determination has raised, and continues to raise, particularly difficult questions that have not been adequately addressed. Indeed, as legal scholars Gary Lawson and Robert Sloane observe in a recent article, “[t]he profound issues raised by the domestic and international legal status of Puerto Rico need to be faced and resolved.” Accordingly, this Note focuses on the application of the principle of self-determination to the people of Puerto Rico. Part I provides an overview of the development of the principle of self-determination in international law and Puerto Rico's commonwealth status. Part II provides background information on the political status debate in Puerto Rico and focuses on three key issues that arise in the context of self-determination in Puerto Rico. Part III explains why Puerto Rico's political status needs to be resolved and how the process of self-determination should proceed in Puerto Rico. Ultimately, this Note contends that the people of Puerto Rico have yet to fully exercise their right to self-determination.