Creating New States by Aleksandar Pavkovic with Peter Radan

By Aleksandar Pavkovic with Peter Radan

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This is illustrated by the comment of the then Secretary-General of the United Nations in 1992 that ‘if every ethnic, religious or linguistic group claimed statehood, there would be no limit to fragmentation, and peace, security and economic well-being for all would become ever more difficult to achieve’ (Boutros-Ghali 1992, 9). Thus, whilst decolonization was relatively uncontroversial, secession from an independent state has been, and remains, a contested and sensitive political and legal issue.

But policy makers and their advisers also need to justify their policies – for example, secessionist leaders need to justify their attempts to secede, the host state policy makers need to justify their policies towards secessionist movements and policy makers in other states need to justify their policies towards both secessionist movements and their host states. As we shall see, they are not the only ones who would be interested in the question of justification of secession. Is an attempt to secede the right thing to do?

Examples here include the states of Canada, Australia and New Zealand that obtained their independence from the UK. 22 Creating New States The two world wars of the first half of the twentieth century signalled a significant change in public attitudes towards colonialism, in particular towards the European states’ rule over their overseas colonies. International opinion became increasingly hostile to the continuation of colonialism. This was clearly demonstrated with the recognition of the principle of selfdetermination in the United Nations Charter that came into effect in 1945.

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