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Recognizing StatesInternational Society and the Establishment of New States Since 1776$
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Mikulas Fabry

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199564446

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199564446.001.0001

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New States Between 1918 and 1945

New States Between 1918 and 1945

(p.117) Chapter 4 New States Between 1918 and 1945
Recognizing States

Mikulas Fabry (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Chapter 4 begins by considering Woodrow Wilson's intellectual revolution of 1916–18 which turned on the positive right of self‐determination. In marked contrast to the earlier conception of self‐determination as a negative right, which prescribed no more than non‐interference in foreign self‐determination endeavors of self‐defined peoples and recognition of their successful conclusions, Wilson argued that a peoples' right to determine their political future imposed an active obligation on international society to bring it about. This progressive doctrine demanded that outsiders identify: (a) the peoples who qualify for the right of self‐determination, (b) the correct procedure for assessing their consent to be independent, and (c) the exact scope of positive international obligations owed to them. These questions presented insurmountable operational difficulties. Participants at the Paris Peace Conference, even Wilson, came to appreciate that if the mere voicing of claims gave groups positive entitlement and if outsiders would be bound to intervene to effect such claims, there would be no limit to state fragmentation and international disorder. In the end, the statesmen were obliged by this situation to recognize only those claimants established de facto.

Keywords:   self‐determination, positive right, negative right, intervention, obligation, de facto statehood, Woodrow Wilson

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