Autonomy and Self-determination
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Autonomy and Self-determination

Between Legal Assertions and Utopian Aspirations

Edited by Peter Hilpold

Europe has reached a crisis point, with the call for self-determination and more autonomy stronger than it ever has been. In this book, renowned international lawyers give a detailed account of the present state of international law regarding self-determination and autonomy.
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Chapter 4: Self-determination and secession: similarities and differences

Rein Müllerson


Dealing shortly with some general questions of self-determination, the chapter concentrates on the comparison between secessionist claims and reactions of central authorities and the so-called world community to them in states that belong to the category of post-modernist states (e.g., the United Kingdom vis-à-vis Scotland, Canada vis-à-vis Quebec) and modern or pre-modern states (e.g., Ukraine vis-à-vis Eastern Ukraine or the Crimea). One of his conclusions is that the more reasons a minority may have to break away, the more difficult it usually is; both for internal and external reasons (e.g., the Kurds in some Middle Eastern countries). And on the contrary, the lesser the need, the easier it may be (the Quebecois in Canada). The chapter also analyses the reasons (mostly political while legal arguments serve to cover political considerations) why the world community, or parts of it, supports independence claims of some groups (e.g., the Kosovars), while being vehemently against other groups (e.g., the Crimeans).

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