Norms Of Self-Determination

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Norms of self-determination and claiming independence from imperial powers have defined the twentieth century and have influenced major upheavals in countries with colonial histories. The Egyptian independence movement used multiple tactics to gain autonomy from the British justified by the principle of self-determination. Nationalist leaders in Egypt used the burgeoning norm of self-determination to claim independence by undermining the colonial norm of foreign influence in the domestic functioning of the state through revolutions and widespread public support. These expressions of international norms are important because they have shaped the political climate and tensions in the Middle East. The norms of self-determination and gaining independence…show more content…
It became the fuel for the wave of anti-imperial sentiment amongst colonial nations following the First World War. Although not explicitly affirming the legitimacy of self-determination as a principle, Wilson did, however, declare in his fifth point that “in determining all such questions of sovereignty the interests of the populations concerned must have equal weight with the equitable claims of the government whose title is to be determined.” His rhetoric helped to develop the notion of the possibility of independence from colonial empires for colonized people around the globe. As Manela elaborates, for a time, “Wilson appears to millions worldwide as the herald of an emerging new world in which all people will be granted the right to determine their own future.” The Egyptians were among the many nations inspired by his words to take action against the British, vying for autonomy and recognition as a self-governing…show more content…
The British occupation of Egypt began “during an era in which…darker, more racialist series of attitudes towards non-European peoples.” This outlook became the foundation upon which the British handled conditions in Egypt and incredibly biased their perspectives of the local population, undervaluing their competency as a collective people. Arthur Milner, in 1894, discussed the impact of the British influence on Egypt as a means of bringing European ideals around the world, as “it needs only a little experience of the East to realize how vast an improvement may be effected in the condition of a country by the introduction of nothing more than the ordinary methods and principles of civilized government.” Milner voiced the common perspective of the colonized world as being backwards and in need of superior, European, guidance to function more like an enlightened state. Another aspect of Britain’s imperialist manoeuvring in Egypt is a “humanitarian basis,” as the British believed it was their role to defend foreign, usually Christian, minorities because the Egyptians were not capable of maintaining peace themselves. This colonial norm is an essential factor that critically influences colonized populations because it opposes any prospects of autonomy and self-rule. This perception of what Great Britain’s role ought to be, as a regulating force with control over the economy and
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