Self-Determination in the Post-Colonial Era

  • Hurst Hannum

Abstract

Nationalism — the principle of homogeneous cultural units as the foundations of political life, and of the obligatory cultural unity of rulers and ruled — is indeed inscribed neither in the nature of things, nor in the hearts of men, nor in the pre-conditions of social life in general, and the contention that it is so inscribed is a falsehood which nationalist doctrine has succeeded in presenting as self-evident. But nationalism as a phenomenon, not as a doctrine presented by nationalists, is inherent in a certain set of social conditions; and those conditions, it so happens, are the conditions of our time.1

Keywords

Europe Boulder Nigeria Clarification Univer 

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Notes

  1. 1.
    Ernest Gellner, Nations and Nationalism (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1983), at 125.Google Scholar
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    Numerous scholars have traced these developments, and the present work will not attempt to retrace their steps. See, for example, Alfred Cobban, The Nation State and National Self-Determination (New York: Thomas Y. Crowell, rev. edn, 1969); Gellner, supra note 1; E. J. Hobsbawm, Nations and Nationalism since 1780 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2nd edn, 1992); Oscar I. Janowsky, Nationalities and National Minorities (New York: Macmillan, 1945); Hans Kohn, Nationalism: Its Meaning and History (Princeton, NJ: Van Nostrand, rev. edn, 1965); and Hugh Seton-Watson, Nations and States (London: Methuen, 1977).Google Scholar
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    56 Congressional Record, at 8671 (11 February 1918), emphasis added.Google Scholar
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    The most comprehensive treatise is Lee C. Buchheit, Secession (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1978); also cf., for example, Cassese, supra, note 35, at 155–7; James Crawford, The Creation of States in International Law (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1979), at 247–70; Ved P. Nanda, “Self-Determination Outside the Colonial Context: The Birth of Bangladesh in Retrospect”, in Yonah Alexander and Robert A. Friedlander (eds), Self-Determination: National, Regional, and Global Dimensions (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1980), at 193–220; Pomerance, supra note 47; “Klingenthal Symposium: Peoples’ Rights and Human Rights”, in (1986) 7 Human Rights L. J., 410, 410–12, 421–2. Various Marxist writers also support the right of secession in theory, but none has offered any specific example of when such a right might exist in a non-colonial context. See, for example, Hanna Bokor-Szego, New States and International Law (Budapest: Adadémiai Kiadó, 1970), at 34–5 (rejecting the right of minority groups to secede). For a summary of some of the major theories on secession, see Hannum, Autonomy, Sovereignty and Self-Determination: The Accommodation of Conflicting Rights (Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1990).Google Scholar
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    A lucid philosophical examination of these questions may be found in Allen Buchanan, Secession (Boulder: Westview Press, 1991).Google Scholar
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    Buchanan accurately notes that “the moral appeal of the principle of self-determination depends precisely upon its vagueness” (Buchanan, Ibid., at 50).Google Scholar
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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1996

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  • Hurst Hannum

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