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The Conflict between Territorial Integrity and Self-Determination - Essay Example

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Territorial integrity, along with other elements, has always been considered a requisite of statehood under international law. Reinforcing this perspective is Article 6 of the of the 1960 Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, a UN Resolution, that categorically declared any form of disruption of the territorial integrity of a state as incompatible with the purposes and principles of the UN Charter. …
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The Conflict between Territorial Integrity and Self-Determination
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"The Conflict between Territorial Integrity and Self-Determination"

Download file to see previous pages Such a classic perspective of statehood with respect to territorial integrity has manifested a simmering tension with another international principle. Recent events, equated with the collapse of the USSR, illustrate that the concept of self-determination shows a tendency to conflict with this long-held principle in international law. The embrace of territorial integrity by international law has something to do with international security and stability and there is a gnawing concern that the burgeoning concept of self-determination may pose a challenge to the status quo. Nonetheless, one need not necessarily neutralize or render the other principle void. While territorial integrity still finds relevance in the present times, the world must find a place for self-determination for the purpose of resolving existing conflicts and avoiding the escalation of violence or the eruption of wars. The international community must seek ways to moderate the build-up of tension between these two seemingly contending international principles. Territorial Integrity and Self-Determination: Definition of Concepts The origin of the concept of self-determination can be traced back to the 1789 American Declaration of Independence and later in the 1792 French Declaration. It originally refers to the entitlement endowed to the state by the populace to govern on their behalf with their consent as well as represent them in the international community as a separate, independent and co-equal entity alongside other states (Castellino p.11). Simply put however, self-determination was just perceived as “the right of nations to sovereign independence” (cited Schwed p. 447) According to the Finnish international law professor Koskenniemi, the concept of national determination can be viewed from two perspectives. The first has a patriotic facet while the other a secessionist element. The first model has a classical or Hobbesean underpinning because it sees the nation as a state and self-determination as closely related to the presence or absence of procedural mechanism that the state adopts to allow its citizens to participate in decision-making. Anything outside of this decision-making procedure, therefore, is “destructive, irrational passion” according to this model (Castellino pp. 9-10). The implication of this perspective is that the state is placed at the center of everything and that self-determination is legitimate only when it preserves the state as an organized body and when it prevents bellum omnium or what Hobbes called “a war by all against all,” which occurs in the absence of a civilized society (Leviathan Chapter 13). On the other hand, the second model of self-determination has a more romantic underpinning to it as it is largely based on Rousseau’s social contract theory. In this model, procedure is relegated to the background while purpose and goal take center stage. Moreover, this model does not see a nation as merely an artificial entity, but as an authentic community. Self-determination from this perspective is thus, an expression, rather than a procedure, of the will of the community geared towards the collective good, not necessarily of the state (Castellino pp. 9-10).An example of the classical or Hobbesian model is the Palestinian claim against Israel, while the South Ossenian-Georgia conflict illustrates the romantic or Rousseauesque model. On the other hand, the concept of territorial integrity has underpinnings from the concept of state as a person of international law under the ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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