Self-determination, national minorities and the liberal principle of equality

Aleksandar Pavković*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The argument presented by Aleksandar Pavković in Chapter 8 challenges the view of self-determination as an extrainstitutional right. The thesis that national minorities have a right to have state-like institutions (that is, a degree of intrastate autonomy) within a state implies that national minorities have an extrainstitutional right to restricted self-determination. Pavković argues that the liberal principle of equality of citizens cannot provide any justifi cation of such a thesis. In particular, a liberal state, in his view, is not obliged to grant state-like institutions to its national minority groups in order to protect and promote their languages and cultures. There are equally effective instruments for this purpose which do not invoke or require the right of self- determination. The liberal principle of equality, he maintains, does not require that every national (or any other) group within a liberal–democratic state should be granted equal political power within that state. It is rather the fundamental principle of nationalism – that each nation deserves a state or state-like institution – that can justify such a distribution of political power among national groups. Yet a demand for national self-determination of national minorities is often a demand for the parity of political power among various national groups within the state, and not a demand for the protection of equality or liberty of its individual citizens. Liberalism, Pavković argues, cannot justify or support the former demand.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationIdentity, self-determination and secession
EditorsIgor Primoratz, Aleksandar Pavković
Place of PublicationAldershot, UK
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9781351156080
ISBN (Print)0754652653, 9780815389613
Publication statusPublished - 2006

Bibliographical note

eBook Published 18 January 2018 (originally published 2006)


  • self-determination
  • national minority
  • nationalism
  • rights
  • liberties


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