Chechnya and the Right of Self-Determination

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The armed conflicts in Chechnya following the demise of the Soviet Union have destroyed much of the region, yet have not resolved the central issue: whether Chechnya has a right to secede from Russia. This note argues that, based on the evolution of the concept of self-determination under international law, and taking both Chechen and Russian behavior into account, Chechnya does possess a right of self-determination. However, based on current circumstances, this right only encompasses a certain amount of autonomy within Russia—not secession.