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Chapter

Cover The Politics of International Law

9. States, nations, and colonies  

The law and politics of self-determination

This chapter investigates how-and how effectively-international law strikes a balance between the individual and collective rights of people, and the prerogatives of sovereign states. It begins by exploring the what, who, and where of self-determination. Self-determination is a concept that has meant different things to different people at different times. Its meaning under international law can only be understood in relation to the shifting paradigms of international politics in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. The chapter discusses the Wilsonian principle of self-determination and its partial application during the interwar period. It then turns to the post-Second World War rebirth of self-determination as a right of colonized peoples to independent statehood. The chapter also considers the concept of internal self-determination, before analysing what external self-determination has come to mean in non-colonial contexts and the problem of remedial secession. Finally, it examines the law and politics of recognition of statehood.

Chapter

Cover Introducing Political Philosophy

16. Humanitarian Intervention and Political Self-Determination  

William Abel, Elizabeth Kahn, Tom Parr, and Andrew Walton

This chapter argues that there is a just cause to intervene militarily in a state that systematically violates the human rights of its members. It rejects the views of those who contend that there is no justification for humanitarian intervention because there are no universal moral values. The chapter accepts that the value of political self-determination can explain what is wrong with humanitarian intervention in some cases. However, appeals to this value are decisive less often than many critics of intervention suppose. One concern with adopting a permissive attitude towards humanitarian intervention is that this might be open to misuse. The chapter then articulates a role for international law in authorizing intervention to minimize this risk. It concludes by clarifying how these arguments fit within a wider set of considerations pertinent to the justifiability of humanitarian intervention.

Chapter

Cover Rethinking Political Thinkers

16. Edward W. Said  

Rahul Rao

This chapter studies the major intellectual contributions of Edward Said, many of which laid the foundations for what would become the field of postcolonial studies. It begins by exploring Said’s views on how knowledge and power structure relations between Western imperial powers and non-Western states and societies, through critical readings of Orientalism (1978) and Culture and Imperialism (1993), respectively. The chapter then looks at Said’s writings and activism as a spokesperson for Palestinian self-determination. It also examines Said’s views on what it means to be a public intellectual. While Said’s ideas have become so influential, the apparent familiarity of his ideas has allowed a forgetting of the nuance and complexity with which they were originally articulated. By offering a close re-reading of Said’s best-known texts, the chapter encourages a more careful appreciation of the ideas that were central to his political thinking.

Chapter

Cover Rethinking Political Thinkers

18. C.L.R. James  

Robbie Shilliam

This chapter investigates a key tension in the political thought of C.L.R. James, the celebrated Trinidadian Marxist. James believed that the human condition was defined by a search for meaningful freedom through the pursuit of collective self-determination. Yet he was conflicted as to whether peoples of African descent had to depend for this meaning on the European civilization that had enslaved and colonized them. The chapter details James’s unique contribution to Marxist thought: a ‘dialectic of freedom’ that triangulates the struggle between the bourgeoisie, the masses, and the radical intelligentsia. It then considers the impact of colonial education on James’s own development and the ways in which it made Black intellectual production, for him, intrinsically political and contentious. The chapter also explores the dualism with which James treated Blackness as a resource with which to struggle for meaningful freedom. It considers James’s legacy as edifying, precisely because of the intellectual forthrightness by which he lived his split ethical, theoretical, and political orientation towards Europe and Africa.

Chapter

Cover The Globalization of World Politics

31. Nationalism, national self-determination, and international relations  

John Breuilly

This chapter examines the role of nationalism and national self-determination (NSD) in shaping the major institution of modern international relations: the nation-state. It considers different types of nationalism and how they vary from one another, whether the commonly accepted sequence of nation > nationalism > nation-state is actually the reverse of the normal historical sequence, and whether the principle of NSD is compatible with that of state sovereignty. The chapter also explores the contribution of nationalism to the globalization of world politics and the changing meanings of NSD since 1918. Three case studies of nationalism are presented: Germany, India, and Yugoslavia. There follows one more case study that focuses on nationalisms in South Africa, making a distinction from South African nationalism.

Chapter

Cover The Globalization of World Politics

33. Humanitarian intervention in world politics  

Alex J. Bellamy and Nicholas J. Wheeler

This chapter examines the role of humanitarian intervention in world politics. It considers how we should resolve tensions when valued principles such as order, sovereignty, and self-determination come into conflict with human rights; and how international thought and practice has evolved with respect to humanitarian intervention. The chapter discusses the case for and against humanitarian intervention and looks at humanitarian activism during the 1990s. It also analyses the responsibility to protect principle and the use of force to achieve its protection goals in Libya in 2011. Two case studies are presented in this chapter. The first one looks at Myanmar and barriers to intervention. The second one centres on the role of Middle Eastern governments in Operation Unified Protector which took place in 2011 in Libya.

Chapter

Cover The Globalization of World Politics

30. Nationalism, national self-determination, and international relations  

John Breuilly

This chapter examines the role of nationalism and national self-determination (NSD) in shaping the major institution of modern international relations: the nation-state. It considers different types of nationalism and how they vary from one another, whether the commonly accepted sequence of nation > nationalism > nation-state is actually the reverse of the normal historical sequence, and whether the principle of NSD is compatible with that of state sovereignty. The chapter also explores the contribution of nationalism to the globalization of world politics and the changing meanings of NSD since 1918. Four case studies of nationalism are presented: Kurdistan, Germany, India, and Yugoslavia. There is also an Opposing Opinions box that asks whether the principle of NSD threatens stable international relations.

Chapter

Cover The Globalization of World Politics

32. Humanitarian intervention in world politics  

Alex J. Bellamy and Nicholas J. Wheeler

This chapter examines the role of humanitarian intervention in world politics. It considers how we should resolve tensions when valued principles such as order, sovereignty, and self-determination come into conflict with human rights; and how international thought and practice has evolved with respect to humanitarian intervention. The chapter discusses the case for and against humanitarian intervention and looks at humanitarian activism during the 1990s. It also analyses the responsibility to protect principle and the use of force to achieve its protection goals in Libya in 2011. Two case studies are presented, one dealing with humanitarian intervention in Darfur and the other with the role of Middle Eastern governments in Operation Unified Protector in Libya in 2011. There is also an Opposing Opinions box that asks whether the West should intervene in Syria to protect people there from the Islamic State (ISIS).

Chapter

Cover Human Rights: Politics and Practice

19. Indigenous Peoples’ Human Rights  

Paul Havemann

This chapter examines issues surrounding the human rights of Indigenous peoples. The conceptual framework for this chapter is informed by three broad, interrelated, and interdependent types of human rights: the right to existence, the right to self-determination, and individual human rights. After describing who Indigenous peoples are according to international law, the chapter considers the centuries of ambivalence about the recognition of Indigenous peoples. It then discusses the United Nations's establishment of a regime for Indigenous group rights and presents a case study of the impact of climate change on Indigenous peoples. It concludes with a reflection on the possibility of accommodating Indigenous peoples' self-determination with state sovereignty.