5 Chi. J. Int'l L. 737 (2004-2005)
Taking Self-Determination Seriously: When Can Cultural and Political Minorities Control Their Own Fate

handle is hein.journals/cjil5 and id is 745 raw text is: Taking Self-Determination Seriously:
When Can Cultural and Political Minorities Control
Their Own Fate?
Paul A. Clark*
In the late 1980s, Iraqi warplanes dropped chemical weapons on Kurdish
villages, causing thousands of civilian deaths. The international community took
no significant steps to punish this action; in fact, countries continued to supply
Iraq with weapons. This inaction stands in stark contrast to the international
response to Iraq's invasion of Kuwait a few years later. The international
community took no action against Iraq for gassing Kurds because most
countries regarded the action as an internal matter rather than a violation of
international law.
Whether international law could prevent or punish mass murder of
minorities is the question that this Development seeks to answer.
One possible way to bring mass murder under international law is to
abandon the principle of territorial sovereignty, that is, the idea that the internal
matters of a state are subject only to the national laws of that state. This idea is
commonly traced back to the Treaty of Westphalia of 1648, which ended the
Thirty Years War. Alleged mistreatment of religious minorities had been put
forth as sufficient justification for one country to invade another, but the Treaty
of Westphalia decreed that how governments treat their own subjects would be
regarded under international law as an internal matter The doctrine of national
BA 1987, Christendom College; PhD 1996, The Catholic University of America; JD Candidate
2005, The University of Chicago.
Charles W. Kegley, Jr. and Gregory A. Raymond, Exorising the Ghost of Wesophalia: Building World
Order in the New Millennium 129-32 (Prentice Hall 2002). It should be noted that the Treaty-
signed by virtually every major country in continental Europe-affirmed the fact that religious
liberty was not guaranteed under international law. Id at 129-30. Freedom of religion was
regarded as a subversive and destabilizing doctrine that would lead to conflict and undermine
the integrity of the State.

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