This article revisits the collapse of Yugoslavia and the impact which the recognition policy of the European Community at the time may have had upon the international law of self-determination. It begins with an overview of the principle of self-determination and of its internal and external dimensions. It reviews briefly the history of the principle in particular its 'colonial' model. The article then chronicles the collapse of Yugoslavia and analyses the importance of human rights and the principle of democratic government in the recognition policy applied by the EC. It concludes that the application of new recognition criteria by the Community may have helped reshape the meaning of self-determination as an international legal right.