The United Nations Charter-based international order sought to reconcile the selfdetermination of peoples with the inviolability of state boundaries by presuming sovereign states to be manifestations of the self-determination of the entirety of their territorial populations. This presumption, albeit notionally rebuttable, traditionally prevailed even where states could only by a feat of ideological imagination be characterized as "possessed of a government representing the whole people belonging to the territory without distinction." But the international reaction to fragmentation in the former Yugoslaviaregarding both the initial "dissolution" and the subsequent struggle over Kosovo-called into question the rigid doctrines of the past and opened the door to secessionist claims theretofore dismissible as beyond the pale. Although no vindication of Russian intervention in Ukraine can properly be drawn from the Yugoslav cases, the Ukrainian crises help to surface the hidden dangers of an emerging jurisprudence that would allow previously inadmissible considerations-whether ethnic, historical, constitutional, or "democratic"-to compromise the territorial inviolability norm.
Comparative and Foreign Law | International Law | Transnational Law
Brad R. Roth, The Virtues of Bright Lines: Self-Determination, Secession, and External Intervention, 16 German L. J. 384 (2015).