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Minorities’ Claim to Secession by Virtue of the Right to Self-Determination: Asian Perspectives with Special Reference to Kosovo and Sri Lanka

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This study examines the attitudes of the South and South East Asian states to secession in the post-colonial context. The right to self-determination was a key argument in the overthrow of colonial rule, but states that won their independence from foreign rule are unwilling to recognise that ethnic minorities in these former colonial states have a right to make the same argument in their bid for self-government. These states insist on the inviolability of mainly colonial boundaries and reject any notion that the right to self-determination implies the right to secession. This article examines the reasons for this attitude. Also, in the last five years two significant events have occurred: Kosovo has seceded and the Tamil Tigers have been defeated. The article explores the implications of these two extremes.

Affiliations: 1: Attorney-at-Law, Supreme Court of Sri Lanka; 2: Senior Lecturer in Public Law, School of Law, Liverpool John Moores University, UK


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