Rethinking the Boundaries of Democratic Secession: Liberalism, Nationalism and the Right of Minorities to Self-Determination
International Journal of Constitutional Law, No. 3 & 4, pp. 553-584, July/October 2008
32 Pages Posted: 8 Oct 2009
Date Written: 2008
Whereas secession has been dealt with extensively in international law, in connection with the creation and recognition of states, it has received little attention as a possible tool in the constitutional protection of minority rights. This paper examines the more frequent uses and invocations of secession and assesses their potential adaptability as means of promoting minority group rights. It argues that international law and the international community have never provided coherent guidance for responding to nationalistic minority aspirations or, specifically, to secessionist challenges. At the same time, constitutional models regarding the management of national diversity have also failed to reconcile liberal democracy and nationalism. From a substantive point of view, there is probably no solution to such difficulties. Neither available model of “constitutional coexistence” nor of secession is likely, ultimately, to be satisfactory. Nonetheless, the adoption of an explicit constitutional procedural approach to secession provides the best means of averting the worst dangers and excesses.
Keywords: secession, self-determination, minority rights, federalism, nationalism
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