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III. The Classical Right To Self-Determination

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Chapter Summary

The right to opposed unilateral secession stands in obvious tension with the claim to territorial integrity and unity of existing states. The first element of disenfranchisement lies in the very existence of a right to self-determination. The granting of the right to self-determination as an apparent exception to the rule of territorial unity therefore appears to indirectly confirm the existence of such a rule. The classical right of colonial self-determination is now a core part of international law and enjoys a status that is legally superior to other international norms that do not enjoy this elevated position (jus cogens). While self-determination is an activist right intended to overcome the evils of colonialism, it is in fact administered in a way that is consistent with the territorial designs and administrative practices imposed by the colonisers.

Keywords: colonialism; international law; self-determination; territorial unity



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