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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The Fragility of the Modern Imaginary: A Case Study of Western Sahara


While the European Enlightenment marked the dawn of our modern era, marked by a belief in the rule of law to deliver security and prosperity to all people, the geopolitical reality of world order has not delivered on this promise. The case of Western Sahara, a UN declared non-self-governing territory demonstrates the negative implications for human rights where fissures occur between what Charles Taylor deemed the modern social imaginary and this global political reality. This paper explores the history of the Western Sahara conflict with respect to the UN framework of international law regarding self-determination. It concludes by offering suggestions for moving past a mere acceptance of the feasible, looking towards the ideal.

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