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The Historical Development of Self-Determination

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Chapter Summary

This chapter illustrates that the right of peoples to self-determination is product of a particular set of historical circumstances. In particular, the development of the modern state gave the right its context and political significance. Three doctrines, nationalism, liberalism and international law developed from organisation, and have been crucial for defining the doctrine of self-determination. Even if in the period investigated, self-determination was not strictly speaking a principle of international law, it had become increasingly essential for the legitimacy of the states which underpinned that law. The chapter illustrates that the right grew out of a western liberal nationalist tradition in which individual liberties, national equality and a community of nations provided the context in which the right was supposed to operate.

Keywords: international law; Law of Nations; liberalism; national patriotism; self-determination



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