Matt Qvortrup
Publication type
Pull Quote

"Provided that referendums are consistent with this principle they are a good – indeed, the best - way to resolve issues pertaining to self-determination."


Referendums have been used to settle matters regarding self-determination since the early 19th Century and gained prominence when the institution was championed by Woodrow Wilson in the wake of the First World War. The referendum provides a mechanism for resolving territorial disputes through democratic means, the referendum on Scottish independence shows. However, without an agreed legal framework referendums can also exacerbate ethnic conflict as the recent referendums in Ukraine show. What is required is a new doctrine of self-determination referendums in international law.