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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 in Decolonization After 1945

New States in Decolonization After 1945

(p.147) Chapter 5 New States in Decolonization After 1945
Recognizing States

Mikulas Fabry (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Chapter 5 shows that despite the problematic character of self‐determination as a positive claim against international society, the Wilsonian conception was the basis of post‐1945 decolonization. Reflecting the new normative consensus that colonialism was no longer tolerable, international society defined, for the first time, specific peoples entitled to sovereignty: the populations of colonial jurisdictions. The key to their foreign recognition was not their attainment of de facto statehood but rather prior international acceptance of their asserted right to independence. This right required colonial powers to withdraw and third parties to facilitate the emergence of a new state in their place as soon as colonial peoples voiced their desire for independence. While in its most important documents decolonization was explicitly premised on the tenet that all peoples had a right to self‐determination, it was evident, just as in 1919, that self‐determination could not be a universal positive right. Post‐decolonization recognition practice restricted the legitimate candidates for statehood to colonial territories, to constituent units of dissolved states, and to seceding entities that received the consent of their parent states. Unilateral secession, which gave rise to recognition of de facto statehood, became illegitimate.

Keywords:   decolonization, unilateral secession, secession by consent, de facto statehood, positive right, self‐determination, state dissolution, legitimacy

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