The concept
of identity is a key factor that frames separatist movements, these can often
minority groups that hold no position at the state level but constitutes the
majority in the secessionist movements1.In
a divided society the ethnic structure creates an internal threat when there is
an existence of an ethnic minority trying to seceding into a new state based on
their collective identity2. The
use of national identity in separatist movements is essential as the rights of
self-determination is reliant on the
right of people (societies, ethnic rights, sub-national groups and indigenous
people). This creates nationalism by groups
seek recognition of their political
struggle for independence, the struggle of minorities for their political and
cultural rights and most especially secessionist movements3. Statehood
is the established form of recognition of national identities, the existence of
this common identity which can be historical, cultural, language or religious
links acknowledges a shared national identity4. National (External) self-determination is the right of people
(societies, ethnic rights, sub-national groups and indigenous people) to choose
their political status of an its place in the international community in
relation to other states, this involves the right to separate or secede from
the current state of which the group is a part, and to set up a new independent
independent separation of groups from within a states involves its territory
and its population constitutes secession stricto sensu6.The main outcome
of secession is that a new State is created out of the breakups while the
previous State remains in existence. In the new separating State choose to
unite with an existing State that also qualifies as secession. There is no
formal international legal right to secession this however excludes States
going through decolonization. This right of secession is often extended to
peoples exposed ‘to alien subjugation, domination and exploitation’, as an
abuse of the norm of equal rights and self-determination of
peoples, and in addition an abjuration of fundamental human rights7.  International organisation and States rarely
restrict the rise of new States in situations where partition has been
consented to by both or all parties included8.A large proportion of
current States were created from decolonization under the supports of the
United Nations and in function of the
principle of external self-determination. The separation of colonies or
other non-self-governing States from the original State is not to be
measured by any formal procedure secessions. The Friendly Relations Declaration
illustrates the rights of the people of in a colony or dependent territory to
use their right to self-determination in harmony with the Charter9. Decolonisation contributes
to most secessionist movements. However, these actions did not fundamentally focus on the
relationship between the administered territory and the administering State,
but rather the affiliation between the previously controlled territories
themselves. These are often referred to as post-decolonization cases.


Cases of secession

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Eritrea is a State that was created through secession which had
difficulty in terms of its devolvement into statehood, Eritrea was recognised
into the UN by accord in 199310.

The colonisation of Eritrea by Italy ended after the WWII when administration was
undertaken by Great Britain before become a federation with significant powers
being rendered to Ethiopia11.

With Ethiopia suspending the federation by occupying Eritrea it led to war.

Eritrea’s right to self-determination was accepted by Ethiopia, which resulted
in its independency. Although not a secession pre-say component of secession
emerged, from a formal perception, in that a new State arose from the grips of
a prevailing sovereign State. Bangladesh’s separation emanates more to
originally comprised part of Pakistan which was also a state that succeeded
from India. It was the recognition of Bangladesh by India that established it
statehood this conveys the implication of foreign sponsorship and military
support for the chances of success of secessionist movements13.


The fall of the Soviet
Union and Yugoslavia play a significant role in secession and its functions14.

The dissolution of the Union allowed states in Eastern Europe that retained
sovereignty become eligible for membership into the European Union. While the
collapse of the Soviet Union is not regarded as secessions, it was the States that
developed from, or persisted, the process has been united to such an extent
that, their perception, future structural changes would have to be considered
in terms of secession, these include Chechnya, South
Ossetia, and Abkhazia. In the dissolution of Yugoslavia, the subject of whether
the cases to power and independence of the in the past constituent/states of
the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia accounts for secession the
Badinter Commission opined that the Federation ‘is currently disintegration’15.

1 Beáta Huszka Framing
National Identity in Independence Campaigns: Secessionist Rhetoric and Ethnic Conflict,
Nationalism and Ethnic Politics, (2014) 20:2, 153-173,

2 Ibid

3 Margaret Moore National Self-Determination and Secession. (1998):
Oxford University Press

4 Anderson, B. Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of
Nationalism, (1993).  London: Verso.

5 Surendra Bhandari,
‘From External to the Internal Application of the Right to Self-Determination:
The Case of Nepal’ (2014) 21(3):330-370) International Journal on Minority and
Group Rights. (International Journal on Minority and Group Rights.

6 Ibid 17

7 UN General Assembly
Resolution 2625 (XXV) ‘Declaration on Principles of International Law

8 Thomas Burri and
Daniel Thürer, ‘Secession’ (Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International
Law, 5 June 2009)

accessed 13 January 2016.

9 Declaration on
Principles of International Law concerning Friendly Relations and cooperation
among States in Accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, UNGA Res
2625 (XXV) (24 October 1970) GAOR 25th Session Supp 28, 121.

10 UNGA Res 47/230 28
May 1993 GAOR 47th Session Supp 49 vol 2, 6

11 UNGA Res 390 (V) 2
December 1950 GAOR 5th Session Supp 20, 20

12 UN Security Council
Resolution 351

13 UNGA Res 3203 17
September 1974 GAOR 29th Session Supp 31 vol 1, 2

14 Snezana Trifunovska
(ed), Former Yugoslavia through Documents: Pt. 1: From Its Creation to Its
Dissolution (Kluwer Academic Publishers 1994).

15 Opinion No 1
(Conference on Yugoslavia Arbitration Commission, Opinion No 1).