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A critical appraisal of the right to self determination under international law

Somto David Ojukwu
Osita Dominic Okoli


International law recognizes the rights of people to selfdetermination as well as the rights of States to territorial integrity and territorial sovereignty. This situation created uncertainty on whether or not self-determination permits ethnic groups in existing States to break away from their parent State, at least where doing so is the only means of maintaining peace. This study therefore, using qualitative
research method, critically examined whether ethnic groups in existing States can exercise self-determination to form a new State from their parent State in view of States’ rights to territorial integrity and sovereignty under international law. It was discovered that international law does not only uphold the right to self-determination of people but it has widened beyond decolonization and is still evolving amidst challenges. International law has made provisions for ethnic groups in existing States who can exercise self-determination by forming a new state under international law in certain strict circumstances.

Keywords: Self-Determination, Territorial Integrity, Territorial Sovereignty