Non-Intervention, Self-Determination and the New World Order

  • James Mayall
Part of the Southampton Studies in International Policy book series (SSIP)


In 1867 J. S. Mill wrote: ‘There seems to be no little need that the whole doctrine of non-interference with foreign nations should be reconsidered, if it can be said to have as yet been considered as a really moral question at all’.1 His statement neatly encapsulates the liberal dream and dilemma of a reformed international society. According to this vision, states are to be protected from aggression by a working and workable system of collective security, and the democratic and human rights of their citizens guaranteed by the evolution of a genuine (and preferably self-policing) international civil society.2 For most of the period since 1945, liberal values were championed by one side in the Cold War, but in reality the international system was both defined and maintained by the rivalry of the two superpowers and their respective alliances. Throughout this period, the role of the balance of terror — whether in maintaining or threatening international peace and security — remained the dominant and most fiercely argued question in world politics.


Security Council World Order International Obligation Collective Security Political Settlement 
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  1. 6.
    E. Gellner, ‘Islam and Marxism: Some Comparisons’, International Affairs, Vol. 67, No. 1 (January 1991) pp. 1–6.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 15.
    See D. Bradshaw, ‘After the Gulf War: the Kurds’, The World Today, Vol. 47, No. 5 (May 1991) pp. 78–80.Google Scholar

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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1993

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  • James Mayall

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