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This is a resubmission of proposal 100015_129634 (with the same title), whose positive evaluation by five reviewers was received on 22 March 2010. The resubmission takes account of the methodological suggestions made by the reviewers (see detailed research plan). The other change is that the previous co-applicant is now the main applicant.The research proposal is animated by the following puzzle: Referendums on sovereignty issues have been a relatively prominent feature of the international political and legal landscape since the late 18th century. During this time at least five historical waves of sovereignty referendums can be identified which, on the whole, were accompanied by comparatively peaceful reconfigurations of sovereignty among states. This occurred when Norway seceded from Sweden, for example, or, perhaps most spectacular of all, the dissolution of the ex-Soviet Union. On the other hand, there have been recent instances where referendums have had detrimental effects which have aggravated a political situation (e.g. Abkhazia 1999, South Ossetia 2007) or even acted as a trigger for outright civil war such as was the case in former Yugoslavia. Furthermore, there have also been recent instances where the people's constituent power has been deliberately avoided altogether, most notably during German reunification or the dissolution of Czechoslovakia. This suggests a research puzzle at the very core of legal and political theory. Under what conditions is the expression of the people's will likely to lead to one particular outcome (successful resolution of sovereignty dispute) as opposed to another (escalation of violent conflict) and when is the referendum device likely to be specifically avoided. A critical reassessment of the role of the people in solving or not solving sovereignty questions -the goal of this project- could also shed analytical light on a number of salient contemporary cases where direct democracy increasingly intersects with secessionist claims. This would include cases such as Spain (the Basque Country and increasingly Catalonia), the UK (where a sovereignty referendum in Scotland is on the political agenda) as well as the Americas (including the classic case of Quebec as well as less known examples such as Bolivia). Evidently, a global perspective would reveal countless other cases. Thus, the project involves an extensive mapping exercise of possibly over 300 cases across all continents and over time. Many of these cases are already identified on the existing international database of the Centre for Research on Direct Democracy (c2d). However, they will require much further in-depth legal and political analyses -the most demanding task of this project. In addition, new cases, especially at the sub-national level, will need to be identified. The 'extensive' mapping exercise will be supplemented by an 'intensive' case study approach focusing on a number of themes in which secession (e.g. former Yugoslavia), the dissolution of Empires (e.g. the ex-Soviet Union); decolonisation (especially in Africa and South East Asia), territorial modification in federal systems (e.g. US and Switzerland); and contested international delegation (e.g. NATO and EU) will feature prominently. The research project will lead to a number of scholarly publications (with at least one research monograph) and 2 related doctoral dissertations by two Law PhD students supervised by the co-applicant. The 2 PhD students will collaborate with a 100 per cent post-doc research team internally financed by the c2d.