Peoples and minorities in many parts of the world assert a right to self-determination, autonomy, and even secession from a state, which naturally conflicts with that state's sovereignty and territorial integrity. The right of a people to self-determination and secession has existed as a concept within international law since the American Declaration of Independence in 1776, but the exact definition of these concepts, and the conditions required for their application, remain unclear. The Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice concerning the Declaration of Independency of Kosovo (2010), which held that the Kosovo declaration of independence was not in violation of international law, has only led to further questions. This book takes four conflicts in the post-Soviet Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) as a starting point for examining the current state of the law of self-determination and secession. Four entities, Transnistria (Moldova), South Ossetia, Abkhazia (both Georgia), and Nagorno-Karabakh (Armenia), claim to be entitled not only to self-determination but also to secession from their mother state. For this entitlement they rely on historic affiliations, and on charges of discrimination and massive human rights violations committed by their mother state. This book sets out its analysis of these critical issue in three parts, providing a detailed understanding of the principles of international law on which they rely: The first part sets out the contours and meaning of self-determination and secession, including an overall assessment of secession within the Commonwealth of Independent States. The second section provides case studies investigating the events in Transnistria, South Ossetia, Abkhazia, and Nagorno-Karabach in greater detail. The third and final section extends the scope of the examination, providing a comparative analysis of similar conflicts involving questions of self-determination and secession in Kosovo, Western Sahara, and Eritrea.
This book addresses questions in connection with the international legal regime on demands for secession, which have arisen in various States. More specifically, it examines the unilateral declarations of independence by Kosovo in 2008, and by Crimea and its subsequent annexation by the Russian Federation in 2014. The work investigates the two cases so as to shed light on the international legal regime affecting entities that are smaller than a sovereign State. It analyzes the relevant principles of international law, the intention being to determine their scope and review them in light of the most recent practice and developments in international law. In turn, the book examines and explains the events of relevance for international law that occurred in the changing situations in Kosovo and Crimea. On the basis of these legal considerations, it explores how the international community can respond when faced with situations that may violate international law, together with the effectiveness of various measures. It also discusses whether certain situations might be legitimate as a concept could now be emerging that secession may be justified in specific circumstances, such as serious and widespread violations of basic human rights.
The case of Quebec within Canada, and the Supreme Court of Canada's case on the legality of secessionist attempts by Quebec, is one example of the tension associated with the relationship between self-determination and a right of secession. The object of the book is to render available to the international community the expert opinions and legal arguments associated with the Supreme Court of Canada's decision on the "Quebec Secession Reference." The questions put to the Court in large part concerned international law, leading the parties to the Reference to seek opinions from international law experts around the world as they prepared their arguments which are presented in this book. Self-determination is an idea rooted in human dignity and its meaning and force parallel the emergence of new understandings of the nature of sovereignty and the role of international law in the protection of human rights. The UN Human Rights Committee has identified self-determination as one of the most awkward principles to define because abuse of this right could jeopardize international peace and security. Self-determination, as formulated by the International Court of Justice, requires a free and genuine expression of the will of the peoples concerned. But serious questions remain about the extent of the relationship between self-determination and a right of secession. Does self-determination legitimate internal self-government, association of some kind with another state, or statehood, and in what contexts?
This book proposes a novel theory of self-determination; the Rule of the Great Powers. This book argues that traditional legal norms on self-determination have failed to explain and account for recent results of secessionist self-determination struggles. While secessionist groups like the East Timorese, the Kosovar Albanians and the South Sudanese have been successful in their quests for independent statehood, other similarly situated groups have been relegated to an at times violent existence within their mother states. Thus, Chechens still live without significant autonomy within Russia, and the South Ossetians and the Abkhaz have seen their conflicts frozen because of the peculiar geo-political equilibrium of power within the Caucuses region. The Rule of the Great Powers, which asserts that only those self-determination seeking entities which enjoy the support of the majority of the most powerful states (the Great Powers) will ultimately have their rights to self-determination fulfilled. The Great Powers, potent military, economic and political powerhouses such as the United States, China, Russia, Japan, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Italy, often dictate self-determination outcomes through their influence in global affairs. Issues of self-determination in the modern world can no longer be effectively resolved through the application of traditional legal rules; rather, resort must be had to novel theories, such as the Rule of the Great Powers. This book will be of particular interest to academics and students of law, political science and international relations.
This book provides a unique comparative study of the major secessionist and self-determination movements in post-colonial Africa, examining theory, international law, charters of the United Nations, and the Organisation of African Unity (OAU)/African Union’s (AU) stance on the issue. The book explores whether self-determination and secessionism lead to peace, stability, development and democratisation in conflict-ridden societies, particularly looking at the outcomes in Eritrea and South Sudan. The book covers all the major attempts at self-determination and secession on the continent, extensively analysing the geo-political, economic, security and ideological factors that determine the outcome of the quest for self-determination and secession. It reveals the lack of inherent clarity in international law, social science theories, OAU/AU Charter, UN Charters and international conventions concerning the topic. This is a major contribution to the field and highly relevant for researchers and postgraduate students in African Studies, Development Studies, African Politics and History, and Anthropology.
This text is part of a series which aims to bring together articles in international law. The text presents an informative introduction which provides an overview of the subject matter and justification of why the articles were collected.
The emergence of new states and independence movements after the Cold War has intensified the long-standing disagreement among international lawyers over the right of self-determination, especially the right of secession. Knop shifts the discussion from the articulation of the right to its interpretation. She argues that the practice of interpretation involves and illuminates a problem of diversity raised by the exclusion of many of the groups that self-determination most affects. Distinguishing different types of exclusion and the relationships between them reveals the deep structures, biases and stakes in the decisions and scholarship on self-determination. Knop's analysis also reveals that the leading cases have grappled with these embedded inequalities. Challenges by colonies, ethnic nations, indigenous peoples, women and others to the gender and cultural biases of international law emerge as integral to the interpretation of self-determination historically, as do attempts by judges and other institutional interpreters to meet these challenges.
Secession in International Law argues that the effective development of criteria on secession is a necessity in today’s world, because secessionist struggles can be analyzed through the legal lens only if we have specific legal rules to apply. Without legal rules, secessionist struggles are dominated by politics and sui generis approaches, which validate secessionist attempts based on geo-politics and regional states’ self-interest, as opposed to the law. By using a truly comparative approach, Milena Sterio has developed a normative international law framework on secession, which focuses on several factors to assess the legitimacy of a separatist quest.