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Monday, April 13, 2015

SELF-DETERMINATION Sovereignty, Territorial Integrity, and the Right to Secession

REPORT FROM A ROUNDTABLE HELD IN CONJUNCTION WITH THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE’S POLICY PLANNING STAFF

SELF-DETERMINATION Sovereignty, Territorial Integrity, and the Right to Secession
by Patricia Carley

UNITED STATES INSTITUTE OF PEACE

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Summary v Preface ix 1 Introduction 1 2 A History of the Self-Determination Concept 3 3 The Rise of Contemporary Self-Determination Movements 5 4 The Self-Determination Principle: Legal Definitions and Obligations 8 5 A Specific Case: The Crisis in Chechnya 11 6 U.S. Interests and Possible Policy Options 13 7 Conclusion 18 About the Author 19 About the Institute 20 CONTENTS he right to self-determination has become one of the most complex issues for U.S. foreign policymakers and the international community at large. Confusion over the issue stems not so much from whether there exists a right to self-determination, which is included in many international human rights documents, but from the failure of those documents to define exactly who is entitled to claim this right—a group, a people, or a nation—and what exactly the right confers. At the same time, the international system, particularly in the post–World War II era, has steadfastly defended the inviolability of existing nation-states’ borders, regardless of how and when they were determined. In recent years, many groups that constitute minorities in their states have invoked the “right to self-determination” in their demands for autonomy—or, in some cases, secession—and have resorted to violence to pursue their aims. These groups typically justify their demand for self-determination as a way to end years of repression and human rights violations by the majority ethnic group or the central government. The absence of a