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The classical definition of a nation state requires territory, population, a formal body that can impose taxes and government policy, and recognition by (some number) of sovereign states. How does the last principle sit with regards to the right to self determination, which seems to be getting closer to becoming a peremptory norm?

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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it is a question of philosophy or politics, not law. – Nij Sep 28 '17 at 7:44
  • It's a question of law. One law says an individual state can declare independenc by itself, the other says it requires the support of other states. I'm only interested in how the arising contradiction is viewed and dealt with. – Ilya Grushevskiy Sep 28 '17 at 7:57
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    Laws of different jurisdictions say different things all the time. How to resolve that conflict is a political question. – Nij Sep 28 '17 at 8:24
  • Both are within the domain of public international law. The rule that states a need for other's recognition is pre 20th century, self determination is inscribed in Chapter I, Article 1, section 2 of the UN charter, and is getting more play since then. They are contradictory, my question is how it is being resolved legally. If you want philosophy though, if politics superseedes the law, then is politics subject to the law? – Ilya Grushevskiy Sep 28 '17 at 8:37
  • It's not clear to me what you mean by classical definition. The first three points seem to come directly from the Montevideo Convention, but the fourth directly contradicts it. – Peter Taylor Oct 1 '17 at 13:03
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The right of self-determination is typically a right of a "nation", i.e. a group of people who share a national identity (e.g. Kurds or Palestinians or Navajos or Kosovars or Scots) who are the dominant population of a compact and contiguous geographic area. Self-determination is a right that belongs to "peoples" not to states.

If you have a "nation state" then you have already achieved the self-determination to which you are entitled, which is another way of saying that you have a right to establish a sovereign state or in lieu of that, an autonomous region with substantially autonomous self-government.

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  • So does self-determination mean a desire for more autonomy then, rather than the more clearly defined (and more evidenced) desire for self-government, which by definition satisfies the third criteria of a state? – Ilya Grushevskiy Sep 29 '17 at 13:25
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    According to the UN organizations that is linked either autonomy or sovereignty could constitute self-determination, and there are plenty of dependencies with an ethnic identity (e.g. Scotland and Puerto Rico) that have rejected independence in referendums when they have been held because they think being part of something bigger is worth it. Self-determination means an ability to determine what system of governance a people will have. If sovereign independence were the only goal, you would never see organizations like the EU form. – ohwilleke Sep 29 '17 at 16:56
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How does the last principle sit with regards to the right to self determination

Well, if you get

territory, population, a formal body that can impose taxes and government policy, and recognition by (some number) of sovereign states

then you have the right to self determination, if you do not get them then you do not have that right1.

BTW, the requisites you mention are for the classical definition of an state, whatever it is a nation state or it is not.


1Maybe you could claim that you have the right but you are not allowed to use it, which reminds me much of this scene

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  • So in other words, 'self'-determination subject to other-determination. Still not an answer that sits within reason. – Ilya Grushevskiy Sep 29 '17 at 2:25

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