Supersession and Sovereignty

Julius Stone Address, August 3, 2006

NYU School of Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 13-33

28 Pages Posted: 24 Jan 2013 Last revised: 18 Jun 2013

See all articles by Jeremy Waldron

Jeremy Waldron

New York University School of Law

Date Written: August 3, 2006


This paper -- presented originally as the Julius Stone lecture at the University of Sydney (Australia) in 2006 -- considers the application of the thesis of "supersession of historic injustice" to issues of sovereignty. The supersession thesis has ben applied in the past to historic injustice concerning land and property rghts in formler colonial contexts; but it may also be applied to the historic legacy of the unjust subjugation of a people. It considers and criticizes reversion theories, which suggest that the proper remedy for unjust subjugation is some sort of reversion to the politcal status quo ante. The paper argues that this cannot be entertained without considering the great differences in statecraft and political circumstances that may have emerged since the time of the unjust subjugation. Those considerations may affect the way we apply the principle of self-determination to these contexts.

Keywords: aboriginal rights, Australia, autonomy, historic injustice, indigenous peoples, New Zealand, political development, reversion, self-determination, self-government, sovereignty, state

Suggested Citation

Waldron, Jeremy, Supersession and Sovereignty (August 3, 2006). Julius Stone Address, August 3, 2006; NYU School of Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 13-33. Available at SSRN:

Jeremy Waldron (Contact Author)

New York University School of Law ( email )

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