n Comparative and International Law Journal of Southern Africa - Between a rock and a hard place : the right to self-determination versus in Africa

Volume 41, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 0010-4051



The tension between the right of a people to self-determination and the right of a state to its territorial integrity has claimed many lives in Africa. The of international law is the regulation of affairs pertinent to its main subjects : states. A difficulty arises when one asserts rights of individuals or peoples within a legal system that is designed for the needs of states. Generally, the international community has not had difficulty with the exercise of the right to self-determination ; the problem has always been when its application resulted in secession. In post-colonial Africa, struggles have been waged under the banner of self-determination and these have been thwarted with reference to the right of a state to its territorial integrity. This paper seeks to address this tension as Africa is replete with examples of the suppression of 'a peoples'' right to selfdetermination in favour of the territorial integrity of a state.

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