Postcolonial boundaries, international law, and the making of the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar

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The development of post-colonial states through the operation of the uti possidetis principle in international law is intrinsically connected to the suppression of ethnic minorities and the ensuing humanitarian catastrophes in these states. With the continuation of colonial boundaries in post-colonial states due to the uti possidetis principle, international law facilitates many of these catastrophes. Accordingly, through exploring the questionable legal status of the uti possidetis principle and the fallacy of its conflict-preventing potential, I argue that uti possidetis itself is a key problem. The continuation of arbitrarily drawn colonial boundaries undermines the legitimate right to self-determination of numerous ethnic minorities. This paper specifically explores the application of uti possidetis to Myanmar and how it contributed to the Rohingya crisis. In the process, the paper also highlights the inherent relationship between colonialism and international law and how it has shaped the development of post-colonial states.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)334-358
Number of pages25
JournalAsian Journal of International Law
Issue number2
Early online date6 Jun 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Law


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