Northern Ireland and the international system
The onset of Northern Ireland's troubles in the late 1960s coincided with the beginnings of the post-colonial era, while the troubles started to peter out with the end of the Cold War. It is argued that the correspondence was not accidental, but that the different assumptions of the two eras profoundly influenced events in Northern Ireland, notwithstanding elaitns that what set Northenl Ireland apart from other places was its resistance to external trends. In particular, changing interpretations of international nonns have made a profound difference to the course of the conflict. At the start of the troubles, the prevailing interpretation of self-detennination was territorial and the world appeared to be heading towards an international political system composed entirely of sovereign independent states with permanently fixed boundaries.