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Why the Legal Rules on Self-determination Do Not Resolve Self-determination Disputes

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Chapter Summary

The rigidity of the classical doctrine of self-determination has been subjected to numerous challenges since it consolidated during the 1960s. In particular, the unfreezing of the Cold War certainties since 1989 has brought with it significant challenges to the doctrine of territorial unity. This chapter argues that even these challenges were addressed in a way that has left the restrictive doctrine of self-determination in place. The result is the fragile insistence on the continued existence or territorial unity of threatened states in Eastern and Central Europe. The chapter dissects the main strands of classical discourse about self-determination. It then considers the development of the doctrine of constitutional self-determination - an innovation of the 1990s - and asks whether it offers a solution to self-determination disputes. The chapter briefly introduces the most recent practice of complex power-sharing settlements and asks whether these will indeed point a way out of the self-determination trap.

Keywords: constitutional self-determination; power-sharing settlements; right to self-determination; self-determination disputes; territorial unity; threatened states



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