Democracy and state creation in international law

Vidmar, Jure (2009) Democracy and state creation in international law. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

PDF - Requires a PDF viewer such as GSview, Xpdf or Adobe Acrobat Reader
Download (2MB) | Preview


At the end of the Cold War some scholars argued that democracy is the only legitimate political system and that this needs to be acknowledged even by international law. This thesis rejects such arguments and takes the position that attributes of statehood are not dependent on type of government. As far as existing states are concerned, democracy is not an ongoing requirement for statehood.

The end of the Cold War also coincided with the dissolutions of two multiethnic federations, the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia. The dissolution of Czechoslovakia followed shortly afterwards and subsequently Eritrea, East Timor and Montenegro also became independent states. Most recently, independence was declared by Kosovo. Some of these post-Cold War state creations were subject to

significant international involvement, which might have had effects of (informal) collective state creations. This thesis argues that in such circumstances international efforts to create a new state were associated with attempts to implement a democratic political system. On the other hand, where the emergence of a new state was merely a fact (and the international community was not involved in producing this fact), recognition was normally universally granted without an enquiry into the (non-) democratic methods of governments of the newly-emerged states.

Apart from democracy as a political system, this thesis is also concerned with the operation of democratic principles in the process of state creation, most notably through the exercise of the right of self-determination. An argument is made that the will of the people within the right of self-determination has a narrower scope than is the case within democratic political theory. Further, while the operation of the right of self-determination requires consent of the people before the legal status of a territory may be altered, a democratic expression of the will of a people will not necessarily create a state.

Limits on the will of the people in the context of the right of selfdetermination stem from the principle of territorial integrity of states, protection of rights of other peoples and minorities, and even from the previously existing internal boundary arrangement. In the context of the latter it is concluded that the uti possidetis principle probably does not apply outside of the process of decolonisation. However, this does not mean that existing internal boundaries are not capable of limiting the democratically-expressed will of the people, especially where boundaries of strong historical pedigree are in question.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: McCorquodale, R.G.
Keywords: democracy, self-determination, national, international law, international relations, world politics
Subjects: K Law > KZ Law of nations. Law of the sea. Space law
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Social Sciences, Law and Education > School of Law
Item ID: 11290
Depositing User: EP, Services
Date Deposited: 20 May 2010 11:55
Last Modified: 13 Sep 2016 23:19

Actions (Archive Staff Only)

Edit View Edit View