UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

Crimean Tatars and the politics of sovereignty : small state instrumentalization of ethnic minority sovereignty claims in geopolitically disputed territory Humber, Kelley


This thesis analyzes the contemporary case of Ukraine and its shifting posture towards the ethnic minority group, Crimean Tatars, by tracing the relationship of Crimean Tatars and the Ukrainian Government prior to and following the 2014 Russian annexation of the Crimean Peninsula. After annexation, Ukraine has pursued a policy of recognizing, embracing, and advocating for the indigenous rights of Crimean Tatars in the wake of Russia’s annexation of this strategically located peninsula and the lingering territorial dispute between the two countries. This is significant as it represents a distinct departure from how national governments have traditionally accommodated this ethnic minority with indigenous claims to the Crimean Peninsula. On 20 March 2014, Ukraine officially recognized Crimean Tatars’ indigenous claims to Crimea, with Ukraine only prioritizing these claims once Crimea was de facto controlled by Russia, suggests an instrumentalization of the Crimean Tatar’s indigenous claims. This thesis argues that the actions of Ukraine in this instance could be the first of more to come for small states hoping to perpetuate a particular conception of state sovereignty which relies on the compliances with international legal norms—now including respect for indigenous rights. This particular conception of sovereignty is most advantageous to small states, who often have fewer resources to secure their sovereignty in other realms.

Item Media

Item Citations and Data


Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International