Background. The problem of lawful and unlawful self-determination of peoples and ethnic minorities in a complex state is very delicate. Meanwhile our contemporary world confronts with a few new cases of the desire for self-determination. Crimea, Catalonia, Scotland… How to define the significance and consequences of these and other events, their legality and desirability from different angles?
Materials and methods. The author suggests that some criteria are necessary to put forward to estimate the concrete desire for self-determination. Our hypothesis states that it is necessary to take into account a historical background of selfdetermination, social and economic conditions, international factors, the balance of political forces in a country, the degree of consolidation of public opinion in a region, legal clarity of a situation.
Results. We have analyzed three attempts of self-determination. In the case of Crimea there was a concurrence of many favorable factors for self-determination and integration with Russia. First of all the high degree of public support for secession from Ukraine at the level of 95–96 % was the guarantee of success. In the cases of Catalonia and Scotland there were much more unfavorable factors and rather limited public support. In particular, the balance of political forces and external factors (the negative position of the European Union) were unfavorable.
Conclusions. The examples of Crimea, Catalonia and Scotland need to be reviewed in the context of contemporary development under post-modernization and globalization. Limited application of the possibility for self-determination only for colonial peoples is long gone. The world public opinion must be more flexible towards the application of self-determination guided by the expertise of legal and political researchers and common sense. It’s necessary to keep in mind that the possibility for self-determination is provided not only by the international law which in reality is often ignored, but also by a group of the above mentioned factors. As a rule a path to self-determination is rather long and difficult, but every ethnic minority has a chance.
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