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International Human Rights Law

International Human Rights Law (9th edn)

Rhona K. M. Smith
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date: 22 March 2023

p. 33018. The right to self-determinationlocked

p. 33018. The right to self-determinationlocked

  • Rhona K. M. SmithRhona K. M. SmithProfessor of International Human Rights and Head of Law School, Newcastle University


This chapter examines the right to self-determination in international human rights law. It traces the origins of this right and considers issues characterizing the current debate on the future of self-determination. The chapter suggests that while self-determination is acceptable for divesting States of colonial powers, problems can arise when groups that are not the sole occupants of a State territory choose to exercise self-determination. The right to self-determination may sit uneasily with respect for territorial integrity of States. Various forms of modern self-determination, including partial or full autonomy within States are emerging.

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