Self-determination and the use of force

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter considers the ways in which the right to self-determination interacts with the prohibition on the use of force. Their interaction is complicated by the fact that these two rules both occupy the highest position within the hierarchy of international law: they are both peremptory norms (ius cogens), from which no derogation is permitted. The chapter will survey scenarios in which an administering State and the representatives of a people use force against each other, as in the wars of national liberation against Portugal and other colonial powers. In those scenarios, the two rules are not, strictly speaking, in conflict. The chapter also surveys scenarios in which a foreign State uses force, either to facilitate secession or to annex territory, as India did with Bangladesh and Goa. In those scenarios, the law on force prevails on questions about whether actions are unlawful, but it appears that the law of self-determination may prevail on questions about validity such as whether a new State validly comes into being.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Routledge Handbook of Self-Determination and Secession
EditorsAleksandar Pavkovic, Peter Radan, Ryan Griffiths
Place of Publication Oxon, U.K.
PublisherRoutledge, Taylor and Francis
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9781003036593
ISBN (Print)9780367478117, 9780367692469
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Self-determination
  • International law
  • Use of force


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