University of Leicester
2014wrightscphd-2014.12.28.pdf (1.88 MB)

A global governance approach to post-colonial self-determination

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posted on 2015-01-16, 11:52 authored by Stuart Christopher Wright
Major changes to the interpretation and application of the law of self-determination have taken place since the era of decolonisation. Notably, because most non-selfgoverning territories have attained independence, analyses have shifted by looking at the internal application of self-determination. Although competing theories have generally defined internal self-determination as conditions under which human rights, democratic representation and access to the right to development are realised, there is continued uncertainty about how the concept is applied. In this regard, questions emerge about the linkage between internal self-determination and external selfdetermination within the self-determination continuum and particularly, whether territorial minorities can secede based on claims of oppression arising from state failure to satisfy conditions associated with internal self-determination. This thesis proposes that a global governance approach is required for understanding and applying post-colonial self-determination. Unlike other analyses, it is argued that the conditions relative to internal self-determination are case-specific. This means that the application of internal self-determination will be influenced by specific legal and extra-legal considerations affecting the parties in the minority-state relationship. Significantly, the actual conditions of internal self-determination may look different in each case, even though a normative process of evaluation is applied. A global governance approach identifies and formulates obligations based on these legal and extra-legal considerations, and a process for territorial minorities to pursue external selfdetermination if internal self-determination is denied. When considering possible local, regional and international pressures affecting territorial minorities like economic inequalities, human rights abuses, and the adverse effects of globalisation, is important to appreciate that obligations cannot be defined by pre-set criteria, but are derived from multi-party dialogue and the identification of specific rights, roles and responsibilities belonging to territorial minorities, states and the international community.



Hodson, Loveday; Lavers, Troy

Date of award


Author affiliation

School of Law

Awarding institution

University of Leicester

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

Qualification name

  • PhD



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