Chapter

Self-determination as a Constitutive Aspect of Democracy

Neera Chandhoke

in Contested Secessions

Published in print January 2012 | ISBN: 9780198077978
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199080977 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198077978.003.0005
Self-determination as a Constitutive Aspect of Democracy

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The central objective of democracy is to achieve self-determination through the establishment of apposite institutions, which can (a) realize core moral rights, (b) help deflect secessionist demands, and (c) resolve conflicts between rights. The first benefit is non-negotiable and holds even if these institutions cannot deflect secessionist demands. The third benefit is as follows: if we scale down the concept of self-determination as a constitutive aspect of state-breaking and state-making, and see it as a constitutive aspect of democracy instead, we might resolve some of the intractable problems that attend secession. The first part of this chapter details the biography of self-determination in the United Nations. The last section holds that the original grant of regional autonomy to Jammu and Kashmir is in keeping with the spirit of democracy, decentralization of power, and the realization of self-determination. In sum, self-determination can be attained short of secession.

Keywords: United Nations; substantive democracy; minority rights; regional autonomy

Chapter.  15220 words. 

Subjects: Political Theory

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