Are sovereignty referendums but a tool to legitimize territorial claims of the powerful?

Author: Daniel Moeckli
Published: 01.12.2022
This is the impression one could be left with in the wake of the popular votes organized by Russia in the occupied Ukrainian regions of Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk, and Zaporizhzhia. This impression might be reinforced by the fact that, as recently shown by Sze Hong Lam on these pages, these were by far not the first referendums to be (mis)used to justify the reallocation of sovereignty. Invocations of popular self-determination to legitimize annexations of territories can be traced back to the time of the French Revolution. The wider picture Considering that more than 600 referendums on sovereignty have been held…