Concepts for International Law
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Concepts for International Law

Contributions to Disciplinary Thought

Edited by Jean d’Aspremont and Sahib Singh

Concepts shape how we understand and participate in international legal affairs. They are an important site for order, struggle and change. This comprehensive and authoritative volume introduces a large number of concepts that have shaped, at various points in history, international legal practice and thought; intimates at how the many projects of international law have grappled with, and influenced, the world through certain concepts; and introduces new concepts into the discipline.
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Chapter 19: Ethnicity

Mohammad Shahabuddin

Abstract

The development of international law since the nineteenth century is characterized by the inherent tension between the liberal and conservative traditions of dealing with what might be termed the ‘problem’ of ethnicity. Having set the historical premise, this chapter argues that the presentday hesitancy of liberal international law to engage with ethnicity in ethnic conflicts and ethnic minorities has its roots in these conflicting philosophical traditions. The chapter therefore concludes that an effective response to the drawback of international law vis-à-vis minority protection and ethnic conflicts relies on the subtle normative reconciliation of the traditions of liberalism and conservatism apropos of the role of ethnicity in the political organisation of nation states.

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