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Autonomy, Sovereignty, and Self-Determination

The Accommodation of Conflicting Rights

By Hurst Hannum

Publication Year: 1996

Demands for "autonomy" or minority rights have given rise to conflicts, often violent, in every region of the world and under every political system. Through an analysis of contemporary international legal norms and an examination of several specific case studies—including Hong Kong, India, the transnational problems of the Kurds and Saamis, Nicaragua, Northern Ireland, Spain, Sri Lanka, and the Sudan—this book identifies a framework in which ethnic, religious, and regional conflicts can be addressed.

Published by: University of Pennsylvania Press

Title Page

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Copyright Page

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Table of Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix

The present book is, in many respects, a logical progression from the author's early interests in human rights, minority rights, and constitutional law, which began at Boalt School of Law of the University of...

Part I: The International Legal Context

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1. Introduction

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pp. 3-13

While this book is written from the perspective of an international lawyer, its focus is on individuals and groups rather than states, the traditional subjects and objects of international law.1 Of course, the state....

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2. Sovereignty, Statehood, and Nationalism

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pp. 14-26

"Sovereignty" and the accompanying corollary of the equality of states have been termed "the basic constitutional doctrine of the law of nations." 24 Sovereignty is the cornerstone of international rhetoric about...

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3. Self-Determination

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pp. 27-49

"The proposition (to begin by using a perfectly neutral word) that every people should freely determine its own political status and freely pursue its economic, social, and cultural development has long been one of...

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4. The Rights of Minorities

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pp. 50-73

All but the smallest and most cohesive of societies include numerically inferior groups which may be distinguished-and which may distinguish themselves-from the majority. As noted beiow, no proposed definition...

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5. Indigenous Rights276

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pp. 74-103

Genocide has been committed against indigenous, Indian, or tribal peoples276 in every region the world, and it is in this context that any...

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6. Human Rights

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pp. 104-118

With the exception of the somewhat questionable doctrine of humanitarian intervention and a state's long-standing responsibility for injuries to aliens, the treatment by a state of those within its jurisdiction was...

Part II: Searching for Solutions: Mine Case Studies

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pp. 123-128

The themes discussed in the preceding chapters-national unity and integrity, the right to self-determination, the human rights of minorities and indigenous peoples, sovereignty-have been raised, often stridently...

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7. Hong Kong

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pp. 129-150

Hong Kong's 5.7 million people live in an area of 1,071 square kilometers, making Hong Kong one of the most densely populated areas of the world; approximately 98% are of Chinese origin, and by the mid- 1980s nearly 60% had been born in Hong Kong.431 Administered by the...

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8. India and the Punjab

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pp. 151-177

Problems of national unification and of religious and linguisic rightshave been fundamental to modern Indian politics and history. India has experienced not only the partition of British India into India and Pakistan...

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9. The Kurds

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pp. 178-202

The largest concentration of Kurds live in the mountains which connect Iraq, Iran, and Turkey, while smaller Kurdish communities are also ound in Syria, Lebanon, and the U.S.S.R. Despite severe repression over the centuries, the Kurdish culture remains dominant in this region,

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10. The Atlantic Coast of Nicaragua

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pp. 203-225

The Atlantic Coast of Nicaragua, which is separated from the Pacific side of the country by significant geographic barriers, constitutes more than half of Nicaragua's territory but contains only about 10% of the...

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11. Northern Ireland

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pp. 226-246

Created by the essentially pragmatic British decision to partition Ireland in 1920, Northern Ireland comprises about one-fifth of the area and one third...

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12. The Saami (Lapp) People of Norway, Sweden

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pp. 247-262

The indigenous people of northern Europe, who inhabit a region much of which is above the Arctic Circle, are variously known as "Lapps" (in the Finnish language), "Finns" (in Norwegian, formerly), or, by their...

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13. Spain-The Basque Country and Catalonia

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pp. 263-279

Modern Spain consists of several distinct ethnic groups, each with its own language and cultural traditions. While Castillian has been recognized as the national language and is what....

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14. Sri Lanka

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pp. 280-307

The present conflict between the Sinhalese and Tamil communities in Sri Lanka (known as Ceylon until 1972) has deep historical roots, dating back to the first century A.D. It is claimed that the Sinhala race was founded in Sri Lanka, an island of 66,000 square kilometers off the...

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15. Sudan

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pp. 308-328

This chapter focuses on the content of southern Sudanese autonomy as embodied in the 1972 Addis Ababa Agreement, which ended a seventeen-year-Iong civil war, and the constitutional arrangements...

Part III: Other Examples of Autonomous Arrangements

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pp. 333-336

The scope of arrangements which provide for some degree of "autonomy" is almost unlimited, and the case studies which follow furnish a glimpse of some of the many unique...

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16. Federal or Quasi-Federal Structures

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pp. 337-369

The region now known as Eritrea became an Italian colony in 1890 and was probably first recognized as a distinct entity at that time. That period of Italian domination lasted until 1941, during which that a sense of...

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17. Territories of International Concern

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pp. 370-406

The Aland Islands are located in the Baltic Sea between Sweden and Finland .and, because of their location, have been considered to be of prime strategic importance by Sweden and Russia for centuries. The...

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18. Other Situations of Interes

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pp. 407-448

Belgium became an independent state in 1830, following earlier attachment to Holland and France and unification with Holland in 1815 as part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. After declaring its...

Part IV: Conclusion

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19. Conclusion

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pp. 453-478

Much of history has been concerned with efforts by those without power to assert greater control over their own lives. I)esignation as a "minority" or "majority" has had little meaning in many of these struggles, as the territory in which dissident or anti-state forces...

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Recent Developments

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pp. 479-494

It is, in some sense, rewarding to observe that the analyses of the nine major case studies discussed in Part II remain largely valid in the "post-...

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pp. 495-508

Since this book was written in the late 1980s, sea changes have occurred in the international political environment. The "Cold War" has ended, and the Soviet Union has disintegrated. The United Nations has launched an unprecedented...

Selected Bibliography

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pp. 509-514


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pp. 515-534

E-ISBN-13: 9780812202182
Print-ISBN-13: 9780812215724

Page Count: 552
Publication Year: 1996

Edition: Revised Edition

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Self-determination, National -- Case studies.
  • Sovereignty -- Case studies.
  • Sovereignty.
  • Autonomy.
  • Autonomy -- Case studies.
  • Self-determination, National.
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