Self-determination of peoples in the context of supranational governance

PhD thesis

Benziger, F. 2023. Self-determination of peoples in the context of supranational governance. PhD thesis Middlesex University School of Law
TypePhD thesis
TitleSelf-determination of peoples in the context of supranational governance
AuthorsBenziger, F.

Globalisation has proven to be a strong transformative force in almost all sectors of public life and has also left its mark on international law. The increasing number of supranational organisations being established and their increasing significance as actors that shape international and regional law is proof of this phenomenon. At the same time, self-determination of peoples remains contentious and has in recent history led to new questions emerging in a supranational setting. Catalan independence aspirations within Spain in the European Union (EU), and continued efforts to enable a second Scottish referendum on independence in post-Brexit times show the continued salience of self-determination even in mature democracies. What both cases have in common, is that both regions aspire to either remain in or re-join a supranational organisation, namely the EU. Against this background the lack of research dedicated to reassessing self-determination of peoples as international legal norm in a supranational context is striking. This thesis seeks to address that lacuna, by charting a new trajectory of the principle of self-determination of peoples in relation to supranationalism. It does so by focussing on developments in two regional frameworks: the EU and the African Union (AU). Textual interpretation following the model of Arts. 31 to 33 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties of 1969 will be the main tool of this research, with special attention paid to historical and contemporary political considerations that may have influenced the interpretation and application of the right to self-determination in different contexts. The discussion on the evolution of the norm itself is of particular interest, as is UN involvement in generating customary international law and state practice, the work on decolonisation, and the interface between self-determination and other concepts (among others human rights, indigenous peoples’ rights and development). This thesis aims to add to existing literature by bringing the results gained from looking at the above-mentioned elements together, to (re-) evaluate the interpretation of self-determination in international human rights law. Special consideration was also given to how the concepts of ‘nation’ and ‘state’ affect the interpretation of the right to self-determination in international law.

Sustainable Development Goals16 Peace, justice and strong institutions
10 Reduced inequalities
Middlesex University ThemeSustainability
Department nameSchool of Law
Business and Law
Institution nameMiddlesex University
PublisherMiddlesex University Research Repository
Publication dates
Online19 Mar 2024
Publication process dates
Accepted13 Jun 2023
Deposited19 Mar 2024
Output statusPublished
Accepted author manuscript
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