Date of Defense


Date of Graduation



Political Science

First Advisor

Jim Butterfield

Second Advisor

Thomas Kostrzewa

Third Advisor

Manuel Soque


Self-determination is accepted as an international right of all people, yet in many cases it still takes decades of struggle to achieve it. Through comparative analysis of the selfdetermination and independence struggles of East Timor and Western Sahara, conclusions can be drawn as to why some former colonies are able to achieve these goals while others do not. In order to better understand the challenges associated with self-determination, I evaluate the two cases based on four overarching factors which influence the process: statehood criteria and imagined community status, colonialism and occupation, presence of natural resources, and international recognition. I argue that it is the will of the occupying or colonizing state and the actions of the international community, along with the power of human resilience, that are most important to the success of a self-determination effort.

Access Setting

Honors Thesis-Open Access

Thesis Defense Presentation.pdf (454 kB)
Defense Presentation