Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Sean Yau (LLB 2016) on the Legality of the Use of Force for Self-Determination (Palestine Yrbk Int'l L)

Sean Shun Ming Yau (LLB 2016)
2020, Vol 21, Issue1, pp. 32-76
Introduction: Self-determination is a complex animal. It is the only principle in international law which is so antithetical to State centricity – the premise of the legal architecture – and yet is one of the most fundamental principles of the discipline. More than 70 years after the adoption of the United Nations (UN) Charter, when the principle of self-determination first became black-letter law, today almost every aspect of its scope and content remains highly unsettled. To some, this concern is immaterial because they consider the principle obsolete and no longer applicable in today’s world. Over the past decade, the International Court of Justice (ICJ), in its Advisory Opinions on Kosovo and recently on Chagos, has shown otherwise. It not only left the door open whether international law permits a right to secession; even more, it demonstrated that the process of decolonization might be void if unlawfully completed. The article taps into one of the biggest nuances in this area of law: the use of force in the exercise of the right to self-determination, with a particular reference to Palestine. This is not least because the use of force has often been the means resorted to in historical attempts to achieve self-determination. Nonetheless, neither courts and tribunals nor academic scholars have seriously studied the issue. The question whether or not the use of force for self-determination is lawful is also particularly interesting from a legal perspective. It is one of the few phenomena of international life where two legal norms, both with a hierarchical superiority – namely the prohibition on the use of force and the right to self-determination – seem to collide... Click here to read the full article.

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