Reckoning with Empire: Self-Determination in International Law

The book adopts a new approach to self-determination’s international legal history, tracing the ways in which various actors have sought to reinvent self-determination in different juridical, political, and economic iterations to create the conditions for global transformation. The value of the book’s approach lies not only in a more nuanced understanding of self-determination’s legal history, but in excavating the multiple ways in which actors, particularly those from the Global South, have challenged the existing normative and legal structures which rendered them unequal under the European system of international law. Rethinking this process touches on issues that are relevant not only to debates about the enduring legacy of imperialism in our present, but also to contemporary discussions of the position self-determination has come to occupy in international law.

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Miriam Bak McKenna, Ph.D, LL.M. University of Copenhagen is an Associate Professor of Law at the Institute of Social Science and Business, Roskilde University. Her work focusses on the theory and history of international law, drawing in particular on critical feminist and decolonial approaches to law.
Table of Cases

 1 Recovering Self-Determination’s History
 2 An Aperture for Worldmaking
 3 Organisation of the Book
 4 Approach

1 Self-Determination: Between Hierarchy and Equality
 1 Sovereignty and Empire
 2 Popular Sovereignty and the Age of Revolution
 3 National Self-Determination, Imperial Expansion and the Civilizing Mission

2 Renegotiating Sovereignty in the Interwar Period
 1 Self-Determination as Political Strategy
 2 Post WWI Resettlement and “The New International Law”
 3 The Aaland Islands Dispute
 4 Quasi-Sovereigns: The Mandate and Trusteeship System

3 “One World” - Anticolonialism at the UN
 1 Self-Determination and the New World Order
 2 Contesting Empire at the UN
 3 Anti-Colonial Activism
 4 The Colonial Declaration
 5 The Boundaries of Independence

4 Remaking the World after Empire
 1 A New International Law
 2 Strengthening the Post-Colonial State
 3 Economic Self-Determination and the New International Economic Order
 4 The Human Rights Revolution and Self-Determination

5 Sovereignty and Self-Determination at the End of History
 1 New and Old Claims
 2 Adjudicating Secession
 3 Human Rights, Democracy and the New Standards of Sovereignty
 4 Re-working Sovereignty: Minority and Indigenous Rights

Epilogue: Contesting Sovereignty
The book is relevant for students and scholars of both international law and international relations, as well as legal history, international history, human rights and critical legal studies.
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