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Boxing PandoraRethinking Borders, States, and Secession in a Democratic World$
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Timothy William Waters

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780300235890

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300235890.001.0001

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A New Right to Secession

A New Right to Secession

(p.123) 4 A New Right to Secession
Boxing Pandora

Timothy William Waters

Yale University Press

This chapter describes a right of secession by self-identified communities through plebiscites—a truly self-determined process. This new rule allows communities to identify themselves without reference to preexisting units. It takes the democratic aspects of self-determination seriously, prioritizing them over the diktat of borders. However, the rule is also territorial, since it requires the group to constitute a local majority. It expects political communities to be territorial in nature, just as the current system does. A community's right to define itself and its territory is the legal and moral heart of this new rule; the plebiscite is the engine. The plebiscite is the procedural and political expression of the right—the way the community announces its claim and constitutes itself as a recognizable, legally relevant unit. Indeed, the plebiscite is the mechanism by which a local majority's democratic preference is expressed and recognized.

Keywords:   secession, self-identified communities, plebiscite, self-determination, borders, local majority, political communities, democratic preference

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