Contesting Self-determination in the Wake of Empire: Sovereignty, Human Rights and Economic Justice

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This article considers the ways in which geo-political and legal concerns materialised in debates over self-determination in the years following decolonisation, and how they impacted on its' possibilities, objectives and conception. During this period, self-determination was not, as some scholars have argued, a declining norm, but one central to the competing visions of reinventing international law after empire. These varying articulations were largely shaped by the experience of colonialism and its ongoing effects, along with the ideological confrontation between East-West and North-South. One articulation stressed the primacy of political and economic sovereignty, prominently seen in calls for the establishment of a New International Economic Order. The other sought to integrate self-determination into the elevation of democratic governance and individual human rights protection. Examining these alternative formulations of self-determination, underlines the incompleteness of mainstream historical accounts, and may throw light upon continuing anxieties over its current legal status.

TidsskriftNordic Journal of International Law
Udgave nummer1
Sider (fra-til)67-93
Antal sider27
StatusUdgivet - 2020
Udgivet eksterntJa

Bibliografisk note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 by Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands.


  • Cold War
  • history
  • human rights
  • New International Economic Order (nieo)
  • self-determination
  • sovereignty

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