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Secessions, Coups and the International Rule of Law: Assessing the Decline of the Effective Control Doctrine

Melbourne Journal of International Law
Volume 11 Issue 2 (Nov 2010)

Abstract: International legal standing has traditionally been established by victory in a trial by ordeal: a region initially integral to an existing state successfully establishes itself as an independent sovereign unit only where its secession movement creates, usually by decisive victory in an armed struggle, facts on the ground that appear irreversible; an insurgent faction successfully establishes itself as a government where it overthrows an existing constitutional structure and secures, even if at bayonet-point, widespread popular acquiescence. Insofar as it is perceived as little more than an imprimatur for 'might makes right' at the local level, this 'effective control doctrine' is manifestly offensive to a rule-of-law sensibility. Notwithstanding the international order's disposition to defer to the outcome of internal conflicts, alternative solutions are available where a state manifestly fails to embody the self-determination of the entirety of the territorial population, or where a government manifestly fails to represent the political community that the state encompasses. These alternative solutions, however, far from generating new generally applicable doctrines, tend ineluctably to have an ad hoc character.

To cite this article: Roth, Brad R. Secessions, Coups and the International Rule of Law: Assessing the Decline of the Effective Control Doctrine [online]. Melbourne Journal of International Law, Vol. 11, No. 2, Nov 2010: 393-440. Availability: <http://search.informit.com.au/documentSummary;dn=749400452181905;res=IELHSS> ISSN: 1444-8602. [cited 29 May 16].

Personal Author: Roth, Brad R; Source: Melbourne Journal of International Law, Vol. 11, No. 2, Nov 2010: 393-440 Document Type: Journal Article ISSN: 1444-8602 Subject: International law; Legitimacy of governments; Rule of law; Recognition (International law); Peer Reviewed: Yes Affiliation: (1) Associate Professor of Political Science and Law, Wayne State University

Database: Humanities & Social Sciences Collection