The Legitimacy of Catalonia's Exercise of Its Right to Decide

180 Pages Posted: 30 Nov 2017

See all articles by Paul R. Williams

Paul R. Williams

Public International Law & Policy Group; American University

Nicolas Levrat

University of Geneva

Sandrina Antunes

Universidade do Minho; Université Libre de Bruxelles

Guillaume Tusseau

Sciences Po Law School

Date Written: November 27, 2017


Catalonia’s decision to convene a referendum of Self-determination on October 1st 2017 constitutes a major challenge for Catalonia, as well as for Spain and the European Union. Scholars from all over Europe and beyond have been studying the recent self-determination trends that have their most salient expressions in Scotland (a self-determination referendum was held on 18 September 2014), the Brexit vote (23 June 2016) and Catalonia’s claim for self-determination. Numerous conferences, workshops, articles and books flourish on the topic. However, contrary to the Scottish and British referendums, the legality of the Catalan referendum is heavily contested by Spain national authorities, raising a legitimacy issue; not about the outcome, but about the process itself. This is these legitimacy issues of the process itself, the question of the legitimacy of the exercise of a right to decide by a people without a State within the EU, that the present report explores.

Keywords: Catalonia, Spain, Sovereignty, Self-determination

Suggested Citation

Williams, Paul R. and Levrat, Nicolas and Antunes, Sandrina and Tusseau, Guillaume, The Legitimacy of Catalonia's Exercise of Its Right to Decide (November 27, 2017). Available at SSRN: or

Paul R. Williams (Contact Author)

Public International Law & Policy Group ( email )


American University ( email )

4400 Massachusetts Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20016
United States

Nicolas Levrat

University of Geneva ( email )


Sandrina Antunes

Universidade do Minho ( email )

Braga, 4700

Université Libre de Bruxelles ( email )

CP 132 Av FD Roosevelt 50
Brussels, Brussels 1050

Guillaume Tusseau

Sciences Po Law School ( email )

27 rue Saint-Guillaume
Paris Cedex 07, 75337

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