Unilateral secession against majority rule is justified if the group allows secession of any other group within its territory. Most sovereign states do not recognize the right to self-determination through secession in their constitutions. Many expressly forbid it. However, there are several existing models of self-determination through greater autonomy and through secession.
In liberal constitutional democracies the principle of majority rule has dictated whether a minority can secede. The Supreme Court in Texas v. White held secession could occur "through revolution, or through consent of the States. The Chinese Communist Party followed the Soviet Union in including the right of secession in its constitution in order to entice ethnic nationalities and Tibet into joining. However, the Party eliminated the right to secession in later years, and had anti-secession clause written into the Constitution before and after the founding the People's Republic of China.
The Constitution of the Union of Burma contained an express state right to secede from the union under a number of procedural conditions. It was eliminated in the constitution of the Socialist Republic of the Union of Burma officially the "Union of Myanmar". Burma still allows "local autonomy under central leadership". As of the constitutions of Austria, Ethiopia, France, and Saint Kitts and Nevis have express or implied rights to secession.
Switzerland allows for the secession from current and the creation of new cantons. In the case of proposed Quebec separation from Canada the Supreme Court of Canada in ruled that only both a clear majority of the province and a constitutional amendment confirmed by all participants in the Canadian federation could allow secession. The draft of the European Union Constitution allowed for the voluntary withdrawal of member states from the union, although the State which wanted to leave could not be involved in the vote deciding whether or not they can leave the Union.
As a result of the successful constitutional referendum held in , every municipality in the Principality of Liechtenstein has the right to secede from the Principality by a vote of a majority of the citizens residing in this municipality. In determining international borders between sovereign states, self-determination has yielded to a number of other principles. The bloody Yugoslav wars in the s were related mostly to border issues because the international community applied a version of uti possidetis juris in transforming the existing internal borders of the various Yugoslav republics into international borders, despite the conflicts of ethnic groups within those boundaries.
In the s indigenous populations of the northern two-thirds of Quebec province opposed being incorporated into a Quebec nation and stated a determination to resist it by force. The border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Free State was based on the borders of existing counties and did not include all of historic Ulster. A Boundary Commission was established to consider re-drawing it. Its proposals, which amounted to a small net transfer to Northern Ireland, were leaked to the press and then not acted upon.
There have been a number of notable cases of self-determination. For more information on past movements see list of historical autonomist and secessionist movements and lists of decolonized nations. Also see list of autonomous areas by country and list of territorial autonomies and list of active autonomist and secessionist movements. Republic of Artsakh Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh declared its independence basing on self-determination rights on September 2, It successfully defended its independence in subsequent war with Azerbaijan , but remains largely unrecognized by UN states today.
From onwards, self-determination has become the topic of some debate in Australia in relation to Aboriginal Australians and Torres Strait Islanders. In the s, the Indigenous community approached the Federal Government and requested the right to administer their own communities. This encompassed basic local government functions, ranging from land dealings and management of community centres to road maintenance and garbage collection, as well as setting education programmes and standards in their local schools.
The traditional homeland of the Tuareg peoples was divided up by the modern borders of Mali , Algeria and Niger. Numerous rebellions occurred over the decades, but in the Tuaregs succeeded in occupying their land and declaring the independence of Azawad. However, their movement was hijacked by the Islamist terrorist group Ansar Dine.
Since the 19th century, Basque nationalism has demanded the right of some kind of self-determination. The right of self-determination was asserted by the Basque Parliament in , and It was approved by a clear majority at the Spanish level, and with The derived autonomous regime for the BAC was approved by Spanish Parliament and also by the Basque citizens in referendum. The autonomous statue of Navarre Amejoramiento del Fuero : "improvement of the charter" was approved by the Spanish Parliament and, like the statues of 13 out of 17 Spanish autonomous communities, it didn't need a referendum to enter into force.
Founded in , it evolved from a group advocating traditional cultural ways to a paramilitary group with the goal of Basque independence. Its ideology is Marxist—Leninist. From to the present day, the indigenous people of Biafra have been agitating for independence to revive their country. They have registered a human rights organization known as Bilie Human Rights Initiative both in Nigeria and in the United Nations to advocate for their right to self-determination and achieve independence by the rule of law. After the Catalan march for independence , in which between , and 1.
The Parliament of Catalonia voted to hold a vote in the next four-year legislature on the question of self-determination. The parliamentary decision was approved by a large majority of MPs: 84 voted for, 21 voted against, and 25 abstained. In December the President of the Generalitat Artur Mas and the governing coalition agreed to set the referendum for self-determination on 9 November , and legislation specifically saying that the consultation would not be a "referendum" was enacted, only to be blocked by the Spanish Constitutional Court, at the request of the Spanish government.
Given the block, the Government turned it into a simple "consultation to the people" instead. The question in the consultation was "Do you want Catalonia to be a State? However, as the consultation was not a formal referendum, these printed answers were just suggestions and other answers were also accepted and catalogued as "other answers" instead as null votes. Due to the lack of an official census, potential voters were assigned to electoral tables according to home address and first family name. Participants had to sign up first with their full name and national ID in a voter registry before casting their ballot, which prevented participants from potentially casting multiple ballots.
Four top members of Catalonia's political leadership were barred from public office for having defied the Constitutional court's last-minute ban.
Almost three years later 1 October , the Catalan government called a referendum for independence under legislation adopted in September despite being blocked by the Constitutional Court of Spain , with the question "Do you want Catalonia to become an independent state in the form of a Republic? On polling day, the Catalan police prevented voting in over polling stations, without incident, while the Spanish police confiscated ballot boxes and closed down 92,  with several incidents involving truncheon charges, the closure of some voting centres and the seizure of ballot boxes.
The opposition parties had called for non-participation. Under Dzhokhar Dudayev , Chechnya declared independence as the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria , using self-determination, Russia's history of bad treatment of Chechens, and a history of independence before invasion by Russia as main motives. Russia has restored control over Chechnya, but the separatist government functions still in exile, though it has been split into two entities: the Akhmed Zakayev -run secular Chechen Republic based in Poland, the UK and the US , and the Islamic Caucasus Emirate.
There is an active secessionist movement based on the self-determination of the residents of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of eastern Ukraine , allegedly against the instability and corruption of the Ukrainian government. However, many in the international community assert that referendums held there in regarding independence from Ukraine were illegitimate and undemocratic. Self-determination is referred to in the Falkland Islands Constitution  and is a factor in the Falkland Islands sovereignty dispute. The population has existed for over nine generations, continuously for over years.
Argentina states the principle of self-determination is not applicable since the current inhabitants are not aboriginal and were brought to replace the Argentine population, which was expelled by an 'act of force', forcing the Argentinian inhabitants to directly leave the islands. Argentina thus argues that, in the case of the Falkland Islands, the principle of territorial integrity should have precedence over self-determination. The right to self-determination is referred to in the pre-amble of Chapter 1 of the Gibraltar constitution ,  and, since the United Kingdom also gave assurances that the right to self-determination of Gibraltarians would be respected in any transfer of sovereignty over the territory, is a factor in the dispute with Spain over the territory.
However, the UK government differs with the Gibraltarian government in that it considers Gibraltarian self-determination to be limited by the Treaty of Utrecht , which prevents Gibraltar achieving independence without the agreement of Spain, a position that the Gibraltarian government does not accept. The Spanish government denies that Gibraltarians have the right to self-determination, considering them to be "an artificial population without any genuine autonomy" and not "indigenous". This sparked several nation's protest along with Great Britain's declaration on 14 December that the decision is invalid.
It advocates the autonomous region to become a fully independent sovereign state.
Stability Without Statehood
Since the handover, many Hongkongers are increasingly concerned about Beijing's growing encroachment on the territory's freedoms and the failure of the Hong Kong government to deliver 'true' democracy. This sparked the day massive peaceful protests which was dubbed as the " Umbrella Revolution " and the pro-independence movement emerged on the Hong Kong political scene. Since then, localism has gained momentum, particularly after the failure of the peaceful Umbrella Movement. Young localist leaders have led numerous protest actions against pro-Chinese policies to raise awareness of social problems of Hong Kong under Chinese rule.
These include the sit-in protest against the Bill to Strengthen Internet Censorship , demonstrations against Chinese political interference in the University of Hong Kong , the Recover Yuen Long protests and the Mong Kok civil unrest. Ever since Pakistan and India's inception in the legal state of Jammu and Kashmir, the land between India and Pakistan, has been contested as Britain was resigning from their rule over this land.
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Maharaja Hari Singh, the ruler residing over Kashmir at the time accession, signed the Instrument of Accession Act on October 26, as his territory was being attacked by Pakistani tribesmen. The passing of this Act allowed Jammu and Kashmir to accede to India on legal terms. When this Act was taken to Lord Mountbatten, the last viceroy of British India, he agreed to it and stated that a referendum needed to be held by the citizens in India, Pakistan, and Kashmir so that they could vote as to where Kashmir should accede to.
This referendum that Mountbatten called for never took place and framed one of the legal disputes for Kashmir. In the United Nations intervened and ordered a plebiscite to be taken in order to hear the voices of the Kashmiris if they would like to accede to Pakistan or India. This plebiscite left out the right for Kashmiris to have the right of self-determination and become an autonomous state.
To this date the Kashmiris have been faced with numerous human rights violations committed by both India and Pakistan and have yet to gain complete autonomy which they have been seeking through self-determination. The insurgency in Kashmir against Indian rule has existed in various forms. A widespread armed insurgency started in Kashmir against India rule in after allegations of rigging by the Indian government in the Jammu and Kashmir state election.
This led to some parties in the state assembly forming militant wings, which acted as a catalyst for the emergence of armed insurgency in the region. The conflict over Kashmir has resulted in tens of thousands of deaths. The Inter-Services Intelligence of Pakistan has been accused by India of supporting and training both pro-Pakistan and pro-independence militants to fight Indian security forces in Jammu and Kashmir, a charge that Pakistan denies. According to official figures released in the Jammu and Kashmir assembly, there were 3, disappearance cases and the conflict has left more than 47, to , people dead as of July However, violence in the state had fallen sharply after the start of a slow-moving peace process between India and Pakistan.
After the peace process failed in , mass demonstrations against Indian rule, and also low-scale militancy have emerged again. However, despite boycott calls by separatist leaders in , the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly elections saw highest voters turnout in last 25 years since insurgency erupted.
It considered as increase in faith of Kashmiri people in democratic process of India. However, activists say that the voter turnout is highly exaggerated and that elections are held under duress. Votes are cast because the people want stable governance of the state and this cannot be mistaken as an endorsement of Indian rule. Kurdistan is a historical region primarily inhabited by the Kurdish people of the middle east. The territory is currently part of 4 states Turkey, Iraq, Syria and Iran.
There are Kurdish self-determination movements in each of the 4 states. Iraqi Kurdistan has to date achieved the largest degree of self-determination through the formation of the Kurdistan Regional Government , an entity recognised by the Iraqi Federal Constitution. To date two separate Kurdish republics and one Kurdish Kingdom have declared sovereignty. The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan which currently holds the Iraqi presidency and the Kurdistan Democratic Party which governs the Kurdistan Regional Government both explicitly commit themselves to the development of Kurdish self-determination, but opinions vary as to the question of self-determination sought within the current borders and countries.
Naga refers to a vaguely-defined conglomeration of distinct tribes living on the border of India and Burma. Each of these tribes lived in a sovereign village before the arrival of the British , but developed a common identity as the area was Christianized. After the British left India, a section of Nagas under the leadership of Angami Zapu Phizo sought to establish a separate country for the Nagas. It waged a secessionist insurgency against the Government of India.
The NNC collapsed after Phizo got his dissenters killed or forced them to seek refuge with the Government. Its efforts led to the creation of a separate Nagaland state within India in They envisage a sovereign, predominantly Christian nation called "Nagalim". Another controversial episode with perhaps more relevance was the British beginning their exit from British Malaya. An experience concerned the findings of a United Nations Assessment Team that led the British territories of North Borneo and Sarawak in to determine whether or not the populations wished to become a part of the new Malaysia Federation.
It also sifted through letters and memoranda submitted by individuals, organisations and political parties. Cobbold concluded that around two thirds of the population favoured to the formation of Malaysia while the remaining third wanted either independence or continuing control by the United Kingdom. The United Nations team largely confirmed these findings, which were later accepted by the General Assembly, and both territories subsequently wish to form the new Federation of Malaysia. The conclusions of both the Cobbold Commission and the United Nations team were arrived at without any referendums self-determination being held.
Cyprus was settled by Mycenaean Greeks in two waves in the 2nd millennium BC. As a strategic location in the Middle East, it was subsequently occupied by several major powers, including the empires of the Assyrians, Egyptians and Persians, from whom the island was seized in BC by Alexander the Great.
Following the death in of James II, the last Lusignan king, the Republic of Venice assumed control of the island, while the late king's Venetian widow, Queen Catherine Cornaro, reigned as figurehead. Venice formally annexed the Kingdom of Cyprus in , following the abdication of Catherine. The Venetians fortified Nicosia by building the Walls of Nicosia, and used it as an important commercial hub.
Although the Lusignan French aristocracy remained the dominant social class in Cyprus throughout the medieval period, the former assumption that Greeks were treated only as serfs on the island is no longer considered by academics to be accurate. It is now accepted that the medieval period saw increasing numbers of Greek Cypriots elevated to the upper classes, a growing Greek middle ranks, and the Lusignan royal household even marrying Greeks.
Throughout Venetian rule, the Ottoman Empire frequently raided Cyprus. In the Ottomans destroyed Limassol and so fearing the worst, the Venetians also fortified Famagusta and Kyrenia. Invaded in , Turks controlled and solely governed all of the Cyprus island from till its leasing to the United Kingdom in Cyprus was placed under British administration based on Cyprus Convention in and formally annexed by Britain in The idea of separation for peace has been amplified by a UN-implemented population exchange agreement in Northern Cyprus fulfills all the classical criteria of statehood.
The United Nations itself works with Northern Cyprus law enforcement agencies and facilitates cooperation between the two parts of the island.
In Canada, many in the province of Quebec have wanted the province to separate from Confederation. Section of the South African Constitution allows for the right to self-determination of a community, within the framework of "the right of the South African people as a whole to self-determination", and pursuant to national legislation.
Supporters of an independent Afrikaner homeland have argued that their goals are reasonable under this new legislation. The colonization of the North American continent and its Native American population has been the source of legal battles since the early 19th century.
Lessons from Europe's History before the Sovereign State
Many Native American tribes were resettled onto separate tracts of land reservations , which have retained a certain degree of autonomy within the United States. The federal government recognizes Tribal Sovereignty and has established a number of laws attempting to clarify the relationship among the federal, state, and tribal governments.
The Constitution and later federal laws recognize the local sovereignty of tribal nations, but do not recognize full sovereignty equivalent to that of foreign nations, hence the term "domestic dependent nations" to qualify the federally recognized tribes. It would comprise the Southwestern United States , historic territory of indigenous peoples and their descendants, as well as colonists and later settlers under the Spanish colonial and Mexican governments. They believe this area should be the basis of forming an independent state of New Afrika , designed to have an African-American majority and political control.
There are several active Hawaiian autonomy or independence movements, each with the goal of realizing some level of political control over single or several islands. The groups range from those seeking territorial units similar to Indian reservations under the United States, with the least amount of independent control, to the Hawaiian sovereignty movement , which is projected to have the most amount of independence.
The Hawaiian Sovereignty movement seeks to revive the Hawaiian nation under the Hawaiian constitution. Supporters of this concept say that Hawaii retained its sovereignty while under control of the United States. Since , the U. Decolonization Committee has called for Puerto Rico 's "decolonization" and for the US to recognize the island's right to self-determination and independence. In the Decolonization Subcommittee called for the United Nations General Assembly to review the political status of Puerto Rico, a power reserved by the Resolution.
In the first plebscite, the commonwealth option won with In subsequent plebiscites in and , the status quo was favored. In a referendum that took place in November , a majority of Puerto Rican residents voted to change the territory's relationship with the United States, with the statehood option being the preferred option. But a large number of ballots—one-third of all votes cast—were left blank on the question of preferred alternative status.
From conflict to compromise: Lessons in creating a state | The Independent
Supporters of the commonwealth status had urged voters to blank their ballots. Many current US state, regional and city secession groups use the language of self-determination. Since the late 20th century, some states periodically discuss desires to secede from the United States. White The self-determination of the West Papuan people has been violently suppressed by the Indonesian government since the withdrawal of Dutch colonial rule under the Netherlands New Guinea in There is an active movement based on the self-determination of the Sahrawi people in the Western Sahara region.
Morocco also claims the entire territory, and maintains control of about two-thirds of the region. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This article is about self-determination in international law. For other uses, see Self-determination disambiguation. Claim rights and liberty rights Individual and group rights Natural and legal rights Negative and positive rights. Civil and political Economic, social and cultural Three generations. This section may contain original research or biased language and needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources.
Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. Core values. Autonomy National identity Self-determination Solidarity.
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March Main article: Republic of Artsakh. Main article: Self-determination of Australian Aborigines. Main article: Northern Mali conflict. Main article: Basque nationalism. Main article: Biafra. Main article: Ukrainian crisis. Main article: Falkland Islands sovereignty dispute. Main article: Disputed status of Gibraltar. Main article: Hong Kong independence. Main article: Kashmir conflict. Main article: Naga nationalism. Main article: Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. Main article: Quebec sovereignty movement. Main article: Volkstaat. Main article: Papua conflict.
Main article: Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic. Martinus Nijhoff Publishers. Cambridge University Press. February 11, Retrieved September 5, Archived from the original on Retrieved Spielvogel, Western Civilization: Since , p. Archived from the original on March 3, Hensel and Michael E. Archived from the original PDF on January 20, Johan D.
Archived from the original PDF on Musgrave Self-Determination and National Minorities. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 5 March CS1 maint: Archived copy as title link Falkland Islands Government, Dick Sawle MLA, The Challenge of Sovereignty in small states As I mentioned previously, the UN itself, in , rejected the claim that a dispute over sovereignty affected self-determination, affirming self-determination to be "a basic human right.
Archived from the original PDF on April 30, UN Department of Public Information. Retrieved March 10, White , 74 U. Attempts to engineer stability in the Balkans " Review of International Studies Vol 39 2 , Book Chapters Sovremennaya Respublikanskaya Teoriya Svobody St. Petersburg: European University Press pp. Egnell and P. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, Research Reports Non-Peer Reviewed Articles Reviews Swedish Research Council grant for post-doc studies at the University of Helsinki 3.
Magn Bergvalls stiftelse Euro 3. Letterstedtska kulturfonden Euro 2. Ljubljana, Slovenia July Steven Pinker at a workshop at the Uppsala University, March 15, In Almedalen, Visby, Sweden July 10, May 19, Briefing of the Parliamentary Committee of Foreign Affairs Utrikesutskottet on climate change and security February 21,