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The State has come to assume a profoundly ambivalent form in the contemporary world. While it remains the centrepiece of international legal thought and practice, it is regarded both as a vehicle for authoritarian rule and increasingly as a marginal political form in the context of a globalised and economically inter-dependent world. Despite these tendencies, the State remains the primary mode of ‘emancipation’ for communities around the world (for whom ‘self-determination’ and ‘statehood’ stand as the supreme objects of political action). In this subject, various legal dimensions of this apparent paradox will be explored. An analysis of traditional doctrines of statehood, recognition and self-determination, will be accompanied by an examination of the stakes of independence:
- What are the distributional consequences of self-determination?
- What conditions impinge upon the process and form of independence?
- How does the architecture of sovereignty serve to enhance or hold back broader developmental agendas (the combating of malnutrition, poverty, homelessness, illiteracy etc)?
- What place does ‘Empire’ have in this account?
In the subject of discussion, attention will be given to various case studies, such as Southern Sudan, Kosovo, Palestine and Somalia.
Principal topics will include:
- States and statehood: A historical excursus
- Doctrinal forms: Statehood; recognition; self-determination
- The critics of statism: Anti-authoritarianism, globalisation, nationalism and post-colonial radicalism
- Emancipatory statism: Self-determination, decolonisation and anti-imperialism
- The stakes of statehood: autonomy, succession and the political economy of emancipation
- Failed states, post-colonial and developmental states
- Statehood and the ‘developmental agendas’
- Case studies: Southern Sudan, Kosovo, Palestine and Somalia.
Intended learning outcomes
A student who has successfully completed this subject should:
- Have a thorough understanding of the historical and contemporary legal debates surrounding the question of statehood and sovereignty.
- Show knowledge of, and be able to critically engage with, the relevant legal doctrine on questions such as statehood, recognition, self-determination and succession.
- Be able to deploy such legal analysis in relation to particular case studies.
- Show awareness of the various economic, political, social and cultural dimensions of such analysis.
Last updated: 2 December 2019