Self-Determination In The New World Order

In This Review

Self-Determination In The New World Order

By Morton H. Halperin and David J. Scheffer with Patricia Small
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 1992
178 pp. $21.95
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This cutting-edge book deals with one of the most immediately vexing conundrums to emerge from the end of the Cold War: How to cope with the breakup of states and claims for self-determination, as in Yugoslavia, the former Soviet Union and potentially Iraq? The authors argue convincingly that the old norms and practice of international law, based on the shedding of colonialism, are totally inadequate. They suggest a more expansive concept of international law that would include protecting minority rights, promoting democracy and linking diplomatic recognition for successor states with their commitment to standards of international behavior. An example of the latter is guarantees to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons, as in the case of the Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan.

No dry treatise of law, the book suggests a number of ways American policy and the international community could implement a new approach to self-determination. Washington should be ready to undertake an early involvement in disputes, long before refugees stream across borders. It should seek to work multilaterally, using the United Nations or other collective groups to undertake roles such as monitoring situations, intervening diplomatically or militarily and conditioning foreign assistance or imposing economic sanctions. Specific suggestions for the United Nations include transforming the now moribund Trusteeship Council into a clearinghouse for assessing self-determination movements. Clear, insightful analysis underpins the new ideas in this volume, some of which are already entering international discussions but are nowhere brought together so well. The appendix providing a global survey of over 100 self-determination movements is a valuable contribution in itself.