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Chapter 4. Self-Determination and Courts

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Chapter Summary

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) has shown a notable caution when dealing with self-determination. There seem to be two methods. First, a court focuses on the legal aspects of self-determination. This approach was arguably taken by the ICJ in the Wall in Occupied Palestinian Territory Opinion of 2004. Second, there is the same method of balancing used in the drafting of instruments. These balances are a response to the twin nationalist-legal pressures. The ICJ in the Burkina Faso/Mali Frontier Dispute Case and the Russian Constitutional Court in Tatarstan and Chechnya, used basic nationalist arguments in their decisions. More significantly, the two commissions in the Åland Islands dispute, the Canadian Supreme Court in Re. Secession of Quebec, and the ICJ in Western Sahara have used substantial nationalist arguments involving quite elaborate descriptions of peoples.

Keywords: Åland Islands dispute; Burkina Faso/Mali Frontier Dispute; Canadian Supreme Court; Chechnya; international law; Re. Secession of Quebec; Russian Constitutional Court; self-determination; Wall in Occupied Palestinian Territory; Western Sahara



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