A Market for Sovereignty? The Roles of Other States in Self-Determination

Karen Knop
2017 Social Science Research Network  
How can the popular sovereignty associated with international law's regulation of self-determination (secession) be reconciled with the state's traditional property-like prerogative to transfer (cede) territory regardless of the inhabitants' wishes? Joseph Blocher and Mitu Gulati innovatively propose a "market" for sovereignty that would treat secession more like a sale of property, and cession, less. Existing international law does not conceive of states as potential bidders, buyers, backers,
more » ... , buyers, backers, underwriters or investors in a people's exercise of self-determination. However, international lawyers should not overestimate the differences with Blocher and Gulati's unconventional proposal. Compared to their idea of marketgenerated options for sovereignty, the generation of options pursuant to a right of self-determination appears murky in international law. Questions about the rights and duties of other states and the limits on outside investment in a people's independence were legally salient in colonial self-determination-a doctrinal category of self-determination that Blocher and Gulati neglect. These questions deserve renewed attention in any analytical and critical stock-taking of self-determination in international law. Cover How can the popular sovereignty associated with international law's regulation of self-determination (secession) be reconciled with the state's traditional property-like prerogative to transfer (cede) territory regardless of the inhabitants' wishes? Joseph Blocher and Mitu Gulati innovatively propose a "market" for sovereignty that would treat secession more like a sale of property, and cession, less. Existing international law does not conceive of states as potential bidders, buyers, backers, underwriters or investors in a people's exercise of self-determination. However, international lawyers should not overestimate the differences with Blocher and Gulati's unconventional proposal. Compared to their idea of market-generated options for sovereignty, the generation of options pursuant to a right of self-determination appears murky in international law. Questions about the rights and duties of other states and the limits on outside investment in a people's independence were legally salient in colonial self-determination-a doctrinal category of self-determination that Blocher and Gulati neglect. These questions deserve renewed attention in any analytical and critical stock-taking of self-determination in international law. Comment concilier, d'une part, la souveraineté populaire associée aux règles du droit international en matière d'autodétermination (sécession) et, d'autre part, la prérogative traditionnelle de l'État de transférer (céder) son territoire indépendamment de la volonté de ses habitants? Joseph Blocher et Mitu Gulati postulent de manière innovante l'existence d'un « marché » de la souveraineté au sein duquel la sécession se rapproche davantage de la vente de biens que la cession.
doi:10.2139/ssrn.2905162 fatcat:ge45wdkt3bbexi676zvbmd5ory