The concept of the ‘post-modern tribal state’ was first popularized by Thomas M. Franck but was later seized on by Rosalyn Higgins and Antonio Cassese. An unprecedented scale of ‘tribal revivalism’ in contemporary nation states was feared by many to represent a form of struggle to establish ethnically defined new ‘tribal states’.1 However, some scholars have questioned the suitability of such a term, notably Patrick Thornberry2 and the UN Special Rapporteur, Asbjórn Eide.3

Thornberry noted that when ‘tribal’ in the descriptive sense is used, it might carry some negative connotations. He preferred the use of the expression ‘ethnic fundamentalism’ to ‘tribalism’. Special Rapporteur Asbjórn Eide also uses ‘ethnic fundamentalism’ to identify this new ethno-tribal phenomenon and the resulting trend towards secession. One might argue that ‘ethnic fundamentalism’ also has negative connotations since ‘fundamentalism’ suggests a type of fringe group extremism currently prevalent in many parts of the globe. However, since the 1990s, with the end of the Cold War and the break-up of many eastern European states, attitudes to the demands of minority groups in various parts of the world, for some form of self-government, changed. The economic and cultural aspirations of ethnic minorities became a legitimate political issue both domestically and internationally: Empire-building and its subsequent dissolution, particularly in Asia, Africa and

Eastern Europe has been largely instrumental in the de-stabilization of