Postmodern Tribalism and the Right to Secession

Rosalyn Higgins Dbe Qc

in Themes and Theories

Published in print August 2009 | ISBN: 9780198262350
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191682322 | DOI:
Postmodern Tribalism and the Right to Secession

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Tom Franck brilliantly describes the social phenomenon that surfaced after the end of the Cold War: postmodern tribalism — the transfer of defined parts of the populations and territories of existing multinational or multicultural states in order to constitute different uninational and unicultural states. Self-determination has long been with us as a legal concept. But is the concept correctly applicable to this explosive contemporary phenomenon of postmodern tribalism? And if not, what is its contemporary legal meaning? Franck contends that ‘after World War Two the imperfectly applied European principle of self-determination received a new lease of life as it was applied to former colonies and trust territories through the text of the UN Charter’. The very few references in the Charter to self-determination — Articles 1(2) and 55 — refer to friendly relations based on ‘equal rights and self-determination’. International law provides no right of secession, in the name of self-determination, to minorities. If self-determination has come to mean all things to all men, so has the concept of uti possidetis. Professor Franck uses it interchangeably with ‘territorial integrity’.

Keywords: Tom Franck; postmodern tribalism; secession; self-determination; UN Charter; minorities; territorial integrity; equal rights; international law; uti possidetis

Chapter.  2841 words. 

Subjects: Public International Law

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