The Confused Compass: From Self-determination to State-determination

Uriel Abulof*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Self-determination, a prime justificatory principle of the international society, has become a confused, and confusing, compass. At the heart of this confusion, I argue, lies the tacit submersion of self-determination in state-determination. In principle, self-determination entails the ‘moral double helix' of duality (personal right to align with a people, and the people’s right to determine their politics) and mutuality (the right is as much the other’s as the self’s). In practice, state actors have labored to tame self-determination: to control and contain this perilous principle by yielding the will of ‘the people' to the interests of powerful states, which have repeatedly impaired its moral DNA.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)488-497
Number of pages10
Issue number5
StatePublished - 20 Oct 2015


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