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International Law and Self-Determination: The Case of Eritrea

  • Luis B. Serapiao (a1)


Writing about the Eritrean conflict in the Horn of Africa is a difficult task, because it involves the issue of dismembership of a state. From the Greek Empire to the Roman, from the feudal era to the colonial times, and now in the post-colonial era, dismembership of the state has been a highly controversial and emotional issue. From the colonial era to decolonization, Africans did not have to face this problem. In fact, not only did they applaud the dismembership of the colonial empire, they worked hard to insure the disintegration of the colonies. In their optimism for the future of Africa, they developed a rhetoric that went beyond cooperation among future independent states to continental political unity. “Africa must unite” said the vibrant and dynamic leader of Ghana, Nkrumah.



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1. Connor, Walker, “Nation-Building or Nation Destroying”, World Politics, Vol. XXIV, April 1972, p. 32; Copson, Raymond W., “African International Politics: Underdevelopment and Conflict in the Seventies”, Orbis, Spring 1978, p. 228.

2. Jorgensen, Dahl A., “Forces of Fragmentation in International System: The Case Study of Ethno-Nationalism”, Orbis, Vol. XIX, Summer 1975 p. 657; Moseley, George V., “China’s Fresh Approach to National Minority Question”, China Quarterly, Sept.-Dec. 1965, p. 15.

3. Connor, Walker, “Self-Determination: New Phase”, World Politics, Vol. XX, Oct. 1967, p. 53; Connor, Walker, “Ethnology and Peace of South Asia”, World Politics, Vol. XXII, Oct. 1969, p. 58.

4. Buchheit, Lee C., Secession: The Legitimacy of Self-Determination, Yale University Press, 1978, pp. 2731.

5. Azadou S. Tiewul “Relations Between United Nations Organizations and the Organization of African Unity in the Settlement of Secessionist Conflicts”, Harvard International Law Journal, Spring, 1975, p. 259.

6. Eisuke Suzuki, “Self-Determination and World Public Order: Community Response to Territorial Separation”, Virginia Journal of International Law, Summer, 1976, p. 784.

7. Ibid, p. 783.

8. Buchheit, op.cit., p. 21.

9. Ved P. Nanda, “Self-Determination Under International Law: Validity Claims to Secede”, Case Western Reserve Journal of International Law, Spring 1981, pp. 263-264.

10. Buchheit, op. cit., p. 8.

11. Ronen, op. cit., p. 5.

12. “The Logic of Secession”, Yale Law Journal, 1980, p. 80.

13. Nanda, op. cit., p. 259.

14. Mengistu, Haile-Mariam, Speech Delivered at the Congress of the Eritrean Region Red Star Multi-Faced Revolution Campaign; and Nation-wide Address Delivered at Nassau, Asmara/Nassau, Jan. 25 and 26, 1982, p. 14.

15. Ibid, p. 35.

16. Campbell, op. cit., p. 543.

17. Selassie, op. cit., p. 69.

18. Ibid.

19. Ibid, pp. 72-73.

20. Ibid, p. 63.

21. Ibid.

22. Mengistu, op. cit., pp. 9-11.

23. Selassie, op. cit., pp. 55-57.

24. Ibid, pp. 59-62.

25. Sherman, op. cit., p. 29; Campbell, op. cit., p. 542.

26. Campbell, op. cit., p. 546.

27. Kaladharan M. Nayar, “Self-determination Beyond the Colonial Context: Biafra in Retrospect”, Texas International Law Journal, 1975 p. 333.

28. Campbell, op. cit., p. 545.

29. “Legal Problems Arising from the Dissolution of the Mali Federation”, British Yearbook of International Law, 1960, p. 375.

30. Onyeonoro S. Kamami, “Secession and the Right to Self-determination: The OAU Dilemma”, Journal of Modern African Studies, 1974, p. 359; Nanda, op. cit., p. 265; Nayar, op. ciL, p. 331.

31. Saxena, J.N., Self-determination from Biafra to Bangladesh, University of New Delhi, 1978, p. 6; M.B. Kawaz, “The Meaning and Range of the Principle of Self-determination”, Duke Law Journal, Winter 1965, p. 92.

32. Buchheit, op. cit., p. 81.

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International Law and Self-Determination: The Case of Eritrea

  • Luis B. Serapiao (a1)


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