Last updated

Secession is the withdrawal of a group from a larger entity, especially a political entity, but also from any organization, union or military alliance. Some of the most famous and significant secessions have been: the former Soviet republics leaving the Soviet Union, Ireland leaving the United Kingdom and Algeria leaving France. Threats of secession can be a strategy for achieving more limited goals. [1] It is, therefore, a process, which commences once a group proclaims the act of secession (e.g. declaration of independence). [2] A secession attempt might be violent or peaceful, but the goal is the creation of a new state or entity independent from the group or territory it seceded from. [3]


Secession theory

There is a great deal of theorizing about secession so that it is difficult to identify a consensus regarding its definition. [3] There is also a claim that this subject has been neglected by political philosophers and that by the 1980s—when it finally generated interest—the discourse concentrated on the moral justifications of the unilateral right to secession. [4] It was only in the early 1990s when American philosopher Allen Buchanan offered the first systematic account of the subject and contributed to the normative classification of the literature on secession. In his 1991 book Secession: The Morality of Political Divorce From Fort Sumter to Lithuania and Quebec, Buchanan outlined limited rights to secession under certain circumstances, mostly related to oppression by people of other ethnic or racial groups, and especially those previously conquered by other people. [5]

According to the 2007 book Secession and Security by George Mason political scientist Ahsan Butt, states respond violently to secessionist movements if the potential state would pose a greater threat than a violent secessionist movement would. [6] States perceive future war as likely with a potentially new state if the ethnic group driving the secessionist struggle has deep identity division with the central state, and if the regional neighbourhood is violent and unstable. [6]

Justifications for secession

Some theories of secession emphasize a general right of secession for any reason ("Choice Theory") while others emphasize that secession should be considered only to rectify grave injustices ("Just Cause Theory"). [7] Some theories do both. A list of justifications may be presented supporting the right to secede, as described by Allen Buchanan, Robert McGee, Anthony Birch, [8] Jane Jacobs, [9] Frances Kendall and Leon Louw, [10] Leopold Kohr, [11] Kirkpatrick Sale, [12] and various authors in David Gordon's "Secession, State and Liberty", includes:

Aleksander Pavkovic, [14] associate professor at the Department of Politics and International Studies at Macquarie University in Australia and the author of several books on secession describes five justifications for a general right of secession within liberal political theory: [15]

Types of secession

US Vice President Joe Biden and Hashim Thaci with Declaration of Independence of Kosovo Hashim Thaci Joe Biden Fatmir Sejdiu with Declaration of Independence of Kosovo.JPG
US Vice President Joe Biden and Hashim Thaçi with Declaration of Independence of Kosovo

Secession theorists have described a number of ways in which a political entity (city, county, canton, state) can secede from the larger or original state: [1] [15] [16]

Arguments against secession

Allen Buchanan, who supports secession under limited circumstances, lists arguments that might be used against secession: [17]

Explanations for the 20th century increase in secessionism

According to University of California, Santa Barbara, political scientist Bridget L. Coggins, there are four potential explanations in the academic literature for the drastic increase in state birth during the 20th century: [18]

Other scholars have linked secession to resource discoveries and extraction. [19] David B. Carter, H. E. Goemans and Ryan Griffiths find that border changes among states tend to conform to borders for previous administrative units. [20] [21] [22]

Several scholars have argued that changes in the international system have made it easier to survive and prosper as a small state. [23] [24] [25] [26] [27] Tanisha Fazal and Ryan Griffiths link increased numbers of secessions to an international system that is more favorable for new states. For example, new states can obtain assistance from international organizations, such as the International Monetary Fund, World Bank and United Nation. [24] Alberto Alesina and Enrico Spolaore argue that greater levels of free trade and peace have reduced the benefits of being part of a larger state, thus motivating nations within larger states to seek secession. [25]

Woodrow Wilson's proclamations on self-determination in 1918 created a surge in secessionist demands. [24]

Rights to secession

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. [28]

In liberal constitutional democracies the principle of majority rule has dictated whether a minority can secede. In the United States Abraham Lincoln acknowledged that secession might be possible through amending the United States Constitution. The Supreme Court in Texas v. White held secession could occur "through revolution, or through consent of the States". [29] [30] The British Parliament in 1933 held that Western Australia only could secede from Australia upon vote of a majority of the country as a whole; the previous two-thirds majority vote for secession via referendum in Western Australia was insufficient. [31]

The Chinese Communist Party followed the Soviet Union in including the right of secession in its 1931 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 1947 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 1974 constitution of the Socialist Republic of the Union of Burma (officially the "Union of Myanmar"). Burma still allows "local autonomy under central leadership". [28]

As of 1996 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 1998 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. [28]

The 2003 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. [28] There was much discussion about such self-determination by minorities [32] before the final document underwent the unsuccessful ratification process in 2005.

As a result of the successful constitutional referendum held in 2003, 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. [33]

Secession movements

Movements that work towards political secession may describe themselves as being autonomy, separatist, independence, self-determination, partition, devolution, decentralization, sovereignty, self-governance or decolonization movements instead of, or in addition to, being secession movements.


During the 19th century, the single British colony in eastern mainland Australia, New South Wales (NSW) was progressively divided up by the British government as new settlements were formed and spread. Victoria (Vic) in 1851 and Queensland (Qld) in 1859.

However, settlers agitated to divide the colonies throughout the later part of the century; particularly in central Queensland (centred in Rockhampton) in the 1860s and 1890s, and in North Queensland (with Bowen as a potential colonial capital) in the 1870s. Other secession (or territorial separation) movements arose and these advocated the secession of New England in northern central New South Wales, Deniliquin in the Riverina district also in NSW, and Mount Gambier in the eastern part of South Australia.

Western Australia

Secession movements have surfaced several times in Western Australia (WA), where a 1933 referendum for secession from the Federation of Australia passed with a two-thirds majority. The referendum had to be ratified by the British Parliament, which declined to act, on the grounds that it would contravene the Australian Constitution.


After being liberated by the Red Army and the U.S. Army, Austria seceded from Nazi Germany on April 27, 1945. This took place after seven years of Austria's being part of Adolf Hitler's Third Reich due to the Anschluss annexation of Austria into Nazi Germany in March 1938, and could not have taken place without the Third Reich being defeated by the Allies.

Belgium and the Netherlands

On August 25, 1830, during the reign of William I, the nationalistic opera La muette de Portici was performed in Brussels. Soon after, the Belgian Revolt occurred, which resulted in the Belgian secession from the Netherlands.


In 1825, soon after the Empire of Brazil managed to defeat the Cortes-Gerais and Portugal in an Independence War, the platinean nationalists in Cisplatina declared independence and joined the United Provinces, which led to a stagnated war between both, as they were both weakened, without manpower and fragile politically. The peace treaty accepted Uruguay's independence, reasserted the rule of both nations over their land and some important points like free navigation in the Silver River.

Three rather disorganized secessionist rebellions happened in Grão-Pará, Bahia and Maranhão, where the people were unhappy with the Empire (these provinces were Portuguese bastions in the Independence War). The Malê Revolt, in Bahia, was an Islamic slave revolt. These three rebellions were bloodily crushed by the Empire of Brazil.

The Pernambuco was one of the most nativist of all Brazilian regions, which in five revolts (1645–1654, 1710, 1817, 1824, 1848), the province ousted the Dutch West India Company, tried to secede from the Portuguese Empire and from the Brazilian Empire. In the attempts the rebels were crushed, the leaders shot and its territory divided, nevertheless they kept revolting until its territory was a little fraction of what it was before.

In the Ragamuffin War, the Province of Rio Grande do Sul was undergoing a (at that time common) liberal vs conservative "cold" war. After the Emperor favoured the conservatives, the liberals took the Capital and declared an independent Republic, fighting their way to the Province of Santa Catarina, declaring the Juliana Republic. Eventually they were slowly forced back, and made a reunification peace with the Empire. The war was not a secessionist war, even if it could become if the Empire were defeated, after the Empire agreed to aid its economy by taxing Argentina's products (like dry meat), the rebels reunited with the Empire and even filled its ranks, as the rebels were very good fighters.

In modern times, the South Region of Brazil has been the centre of a secessionist movement led by an organization called The South is My Country since the 1990s. Reasons cited for South Region Brazil's secession are taxation due to it being one of the wealthiest regions in the country and political disputes with the northernmost states of Brazil as well as the recent scandal revolving around the Workers Party found to be making shady deals with state-owned oil company Petrobras and the impeachment of then-President Dilma Rousseff additionally there is also an ethnic divide as the South Region is predominately European populated primarily by Germans, Italians, Portuguese and other European countries in contrast to the rest of Brazil which is a multicultural melting pot "Racial Democracy". The South Region in 2016 voted in an unofficial referendum called "Plebisul" in which 616,917 (or half a million) voters overwhelmingly supported secession and the creation of an independent South Region by 95%. Another Brazilian secession movement is based in the state of Sao Paulo which seeks to create to make the state an independent country from the rest of Brazil.


In October 2017, Ambazonia declared its independence from Cameroon. Less than a month beforehand, tensions had escalated into open warfare between separatists and the Cameroonian military. Ambazonia-Cameroun conflict is deeply rooted in the October 1, 1961 incomplete decolonization of the former British Southern Cameroons (UNGA Resolution 1608). On January 1, 1960, Cameroon under French administration (Cameroun) was granted independence from France and admitted into the United Nations. The more advanced democratic and self ruling people of former British Southern Cameroons were instead limited to two choices. Through a UN plebiscite, they were directed to gain independence by either joining the independent Federation of Nigeria or the independent Republic of Cameroun as a federation of two equal states. They decided on independence by joining Cameroun, but they did so without a formal UN Treaty of Union on record at the UN. In 1972, Cameroun used her majority population to abolish the federation and implement a system which resulted in the occupation of Southern Cameroon territory by French speaking Cameroon administrators. To make matters worse in 1984, Cameroun returned to her name at independence "Republic of Cameroun" which did not include the territory of the former British Southern Cameroons or Ambazonia. For more than 50 years, the English speaking people of the Former British Southern Cameroons made multiple attempts both nationally and internationally to get the Cameroon government to address these issue and possibly return to the previously agreed federation at independence. When all these attempts failed in 2016 and Cameroon engaged in a military crackdown including cutting the internet in the English speaking regions, the people of Southern Cameroons declared on October 1, 2017, the restoration of their UN state of Southern Cameroons, which they called the "Federal Republic of Ambazonia".


Throughout Canada's history, there has been tension between English-speaking and French-speaking Canadians. Under the Constitutional Act of 1791, the Quebec colony (including parts of what are today Quebec, Ontario and Newfoundland and Labrador) was divided in two: Lower Canada (which retained French law and institutions and is now part of the provinces of Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador) and Upper Canada (a new colony intended to accommodate the many new English-speaking settlers, including the United Empire Loyalists, and now part of Ontario). The intent was to provide each group with its own colony. In 1841, the two Canadas were merged into the Province of Canada. The union proved contentious, however, resulting in a legislative deadlock between English and French legislators. The difficulties of the union led (amongst other factors) in 1867 to Confederation, the adoption of a federal system that united the Province of Canada, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick (later joined by other British colonies in North America). The federal framework did not eliminate all tensions, however, leading to the Quebec sovereignty movement in the latter half of the 20th century.

Other occasional secessionist movements have included anti-Confederation movements in 19th century Atlantic Canada (see Anti-Confederation Party), the North-West Rebellion of 1885, and various small separatism movements in Alberta particularly (see Alberta separatism) and Western Canada generally (see, for example, Western Canada Concept).

Central America

After the 1823 collapse of the First Mexican Empire, the former Captaincy-General of Guatemala was organized into a new Federal Republic of Central America. In 1838 Nicaragua seceded. The Federal Republic was formally dissolved in 1840, all but one of the states having seceded amidst general disorder.



In 1960 the State of Katanga declared independence from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. United Nations troops crushed it in Operation Grand Slam.


Northern Cyprus Grenspost.jpg
Northern Cyprus

In 1974, Greek irredentists launched a coup d'état in Cyprus, in an attempt to annex the island with Greece. Almost immediately, the Turkish Army invaded northern Cyprus to protect the interests of the ethnic Turkish minority, who in the following year formed the Turkish Federated State of Cyprus and in 1983 declared independence as the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, recognized only by Turkey.

East Timor

September 1999 demonstration for independence from Indonesia East Timor Demo.jpg
September 1999 demonstration for independence from Indonesia

The Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste (also known as East Timor) has been described as having "seceded" from Indonesia. [34] [35] [36] After Portuguese sovereignty was terminated in 1975, East Timor was occupied by Indonesia. However the United Nations and the International Court of Justice refused to recognize this incorporation. Therefore, the resulting civil war and eventual 2002 East Timorese vote for complete separation are better described as an independence movement. [37]


Following the May 1991 victory of EPLF forces against the communist Derg regime during the Eritrean War of Independence, Eritrea (formerly known as "Medri Bahri") gained de facto independence from Ethiopia. Following the United Nations observed 1993 Eritrean independence referendum, Eritrea gained de jure independence.

European Union

Before the Treaty of Lisbon entered into force on 1 December 2009 no provision in the treaties or law of the European Union outlined the ability of a state to voluntarily withdraw from the EU. The European Constitution did propose such a provision and, after the failure to ratify the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe, that provision was then included in the Lisbon Treaty.

The treaty introduces an exit clause for members who wish to withdraw from the Union. This formalises the procedure by stating that a member state may notify the European Council that it wishes to withdraw, upon which withdrawal negotiations begin; if no other agreement is reached the treaty ceases to apply to the withdrawing state two years after such notification. [38]


Finland successfully and peacefully seceded from the newly formed and weak Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic in 1917, the latter led by Lenin who had goodwill towards the Finns due to their having helped in his revolutionary struggle. Unsuccessful attempts at greater autonomy or peaceful secession had already been made during the preceding Russian Empire but had been denied by the Russian emperor.


France was one of the European Great Powers with populous foreign empires; like the others the United Kingdom, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Belgium and the Netherlands; and formerly Germany and the Ottoman Empire populous states abroad have all seceded, in most cases granted independence. These generally took place at similar stages by continent, see decolonization of the Ottoman Empire, Americas, Asia and Africa. As to France's contiguous state, these have few present representatives at national level, see:

Gran Colombia

Map showing the shrinking territory of Gran Colombia from 1824 to 1890 (red line). Panama separated from Colombia in 1903. AGHRC (1890) - Carta XI - Division politica de Colombia, 1824.jpg
Map showing the shrinking territory of Gran Colombia from 1824 to 1890 (red line). Panama separated from Colombia in 1903.

After a decade of tumultuous federalism, Ecuador and Venezuela seceded from Gran Colombia in 1830, leaving the similarly tumultuous United States of Colombia, now the Republic of Colombia which also lost Panama in 1903.


Pakistan seceded from the British Indian empire in what is known as the Partition. Today, the Constitution of India does not allow Indian states to secede from the Union.

The Indian Union Territory bulk of Jammu and Kashmir hosts some paramilitary Muslim-state-advocating nationalists, operating against the Indian establishment. They are mostly in the Valley of Kashmir since 1989, where the Indian army sometimes patrol, having bases along the nearby international border. They are supported via Pakistan, though the country denies any direct involvement. The militancy reached at its peak influence in the 1990s.

Other secessionist movements in Nagaland, Assam, Manipur, Punjab (known as the Khalistan movement), Mizoram and Tripura were also formerly active, while Tamil Nadu had a non-violent movement in the 1960s. [39] The sometimes violent, Maoist, Naxalite insurgency operates in eastern rural India is rarely considered secessionist as its goal is to overthrow the government of India. Its commanders sometimes idealise a Communist republic to be made up swathes of India.


The Movement for the Independence of Sicily (Movimento Indipendentista Siciliano, MIS) has its roots in the Sicilian Independence Movement of the late 1940s; they have been around for 60 years. Today, the MIS no longer exists, though many other parties have been born. One is Nation Sicily (Sicilia Nazione), which still believes in the idea that Sicily, due to its deeply personal and ancient history, has to be a sovereign country. Moreover, a common ideology shared by all the Sicilian independentist movements is to fight against Cosa Nostra and all the other Mafia organizations, that have a very deep influence over Sicily's public and private institutions. Also, the Sicilian branch of the Five Star Movement, which is according to the polls Sicily's most popular party, has publicly expressed the intention to start working for a possible secession from Italy in the case where the central government would not collaborate in shifting the nation's administrative organization from a unitary country to a federal state. Lega Nord has been seeking the independence of the so-called region of Padania, which includes lands along the Po Valley in northern Italy. Some organizations separately work for the independence of Venetia or Veneto and the secession or reunification of South Tyrol with Austria. Lega Nord governing Lombardy has expressed a will to turning the region into a sovereign country. Also the island of Sardinia is home to a notable nationalist movement. In Southern Italy several movements have expressed a will to secede from Italy. This newborn ideology is so-called neo-Bourbonic, because the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies was under the control of the House of Bourbon. The Kingdom of the Two Sicilies was created in 1816 after the Congress of Vienna, and it comprised both Sicily and continental Southern Italy. The Kingdom came to an end in 1861, being annexed to the newborn Kingdom of Italy. However, the patriotic feelings shared among the southern Italian population is more ancient, starting in 1130 with the Kingdom of Sicily, which was composed by both the island and south Italy. According to the neo-Bourbonic movements the Italian regions which should secede are Sicily, Calabria, Basilicata, Apulia, Molise, Campania, Abruzzo, and Latio's provinces of Rieti, Latina and Frosinone. The major movements and parties which believe in this ideology are Unione Mediterranea, Mo! and Briganti.


Active secession movements include: Iranian Azeri, Assyrian independence movement, Bakhtiary lurs movement in 1876, Iranian Kurdistan; Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran (KDPI), Khūzestān Province Balochistan and independence movement for free separated Balochistan, ( Arab nationalist ); Al-Ahwaz Arab People's Democratic Popular Front, Democratic Solidarity Party of Al-Ahwaz (See Politics of Khūzestān Province: Arab politics and separatism), and Balochistan People's Party (BPP) supporting Baloch Separatism. [40]


The ethnic Ryukyuan (a branch of modern Okinawan) people had their own state historically (Ryukyu Kingdom). Although some Okinawan people have sought to become independent from Japan since they were annexed by Japan in 1879, and especially after 1972 when the islands were transferred from U.S. rule to Japan, their activism and movement have been consistently supported by single digit [41] of Okinawan people. [42]


When racial and partisan strife erupted, Singapore was expelled from the Malaysian federation in 1965.


The Territorial evolution of Mexico after independence, noting losses to the US (red, white and orange) and the secession of Central America (purple) Mexico's Territorial Evolution.png
The Territorial evolution of Mexico after independence, noting losses to the US (red, white and orange) and the secession of Central America (purple)


The United Provinces of the Netherlands, commonly referred to historiographically as the 'Dutch Republic', was a federal republic formally established from the formal creation of a federal state in 1581 by several Dutch provinces seceded from Spain.

New Zealand

Secession movements have surfaced several times in the South Island of New Zealand. A Premier of New Zealand, Sir Julius Vogel, was amongst the first people to make this call, which was voted on by the Parliament of New Zealand as early as 1865. The desire for South Island independence was one of the main factors in moving the capital of New Zealand from Auckland to Wellington in the same year.

The NZ South Island Party with a pro-South agenda, fielded only five candidates (4.2% of electoral seats) candidates in the 1999 General Election but achieved only 0.14% (2622 votes) of the general vote. The reality today is that although "South Islanders" are most proud of their geographic region, secession does not carry any real constituency; the party was not able to field any candidates in the 2008 election due to being unable to enlist 500 paying members, a requirement by the New Zealand Electoral commission. The party is treated more as a "joke" party than any real political force.


A girl during the Nigerian Civil War of the late 1960s. Pictures of the famine caused by Nigerian blockade garnered sympathy for the Biafrans worldwide. Starved girl.jpg
A girl during the Nigerian Civil War of the late 1960s. Pictures of the famine caused by Nigerian blockade garnered sympathy for the Biafrans worldwide.

Between 1967 and 1970, the state of Biafra (The Republic of Biafra) seceded from Nigeria and fought a war that ended with the state returning to Nigeria. [43] Later in 1999 at the beginning of a new democratic regime, other secessionist movements emerged, the movement for the Actualization of a Sovereign state of Biafra was formed as a military wing of the Republic of Biafra. [44]

Norway and Sweden

Sweden, having left the Kalmar Union with Denmark and Norway in the 16th century, entered into a loose personal union with Norway in 1814. Following a constitutional crisis, on June 7, 1905 the Norwegian Parliament declared that King Oscar II had failed to fulfill his constitutional duties. He was therefore no longer King of Norway and because the union depended on the two countries sharing a king, it was thus dissolved. After negotiations Sweden agreed to this on October 26 and on April 14.


After the Awami League won the 1970 national elections, negotiations to form a new government floundered, resulting in the Bangladesh Liberation War by which the eastern wing of Pakistan seceded, to become Bangladesh. The Balochistan Liberation Army (also Baloch Liberation Army or Boluchistan Liberation army) (BLA) is a Baloch nationalist militant secessionist organization. The stated goals of the organization include the establishment of an independent state of Balochistan free of Pakistani, Iranian and Afghan Federations . The name Baloch Liberation Army first became public in summer 2000, after the organization claimed credit for a series of bomb attacks in markets and removal of railways lines.[ citation needed ]

Papua New Guinea

The island of Bougainville has made several efforts to secede from Papua New Guinea.


Somaliland is an autonomous region, [45] which is part of the Federal Republic of Somalia. [46] [47] Those who call the area the Republic of Somaliland consider it to be the successor state of the former British Somaliland protectorate. Having established its own local government in Somalia in 1991, the region's self-declared independence remains unrecognized by any country or international organization. [48] [49]

Soviet Union

Changes in national boundaries in post-Soviet states Cold War border changes.png
Changes in national boundaries in post-Soviet states

The Constitution of the Soviet Union guaranteed all SSRs the right to secede from the Union. In 1990, after free elections, the Lithuanian SSR declared independence and other SSRs soon followed. Despite the Soviet central-government's refusal to recognize the independence of the republics, the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991.

South Africa

In 1910, following the British Empire's defeat of the Afrikaners in the Boer Wars, four self-governing colonies in the south of Africa were merged into the Union of South Africa. The four regions were the Cape Colony, Orange Free State, Natal and Transvaal. Three other territories, High Commission Territories of Bechuanaland (now Botswana), Basutoland (now Lesotho) and Swaziland later became independent states in the 1960s. Following the election of the Nationalist government in 1948, some English-speaking whites in Natal advocated either secession or a loose federation. [50] There were also calls for secession, with Natal and the eastern part of the Cape Province breaking away. [51] following the referendum in 1960 on establishing a republic, and in 1993, prior to South Africa's first elections under universal suffrage and the end of apartheid, some Zulu leaders in KwaZulu-Natal [52] considered secession as did some politicians in the Cape Province. [53]

In 2008, a political movement calling for the return to independence of the Cape resurged in the shape of the political organisation, the Cape Party. The Cape Party contested their first elections on 22 April 2009. [54]


A republican mural in Belfast showing solidarity with the Basque nationalism. Mural, Falls Road, Belfast (7) - - 802538.jpg
A republican mural in Belfast showing solidarity with the Basque nationalism.

Present-day Spain (known officially as "the Kingdom of Spain") was assembled as a central state in the French model between the 18th and 19th centuries from various component kingdoms with varying languages, cultures and legislations. Spain has several secessionist movements, the most notable ones being in Catalonia, the Basque Country and Galicia.

Sri Lanka

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, operated a de facto independent state for Tamils called Tamil Eelam in eastern and northern Sri Lanka until 2009.

South Sudan

A referendum took place in Southern Sudan from 9 to 15 January 2011, on whether the region should remain a part of Sudan or become independent. The referendum was one of the consequences of the 2005 Naivasha Agreement between the Khartoum central government and the Sudan People's Liberation Army/Movement (SPLA/M).

A simultaneous referendum was supposed to be held in Abyei on whether to become part of Southern Sudan but it has been postponed due to conflict over demarcation and residency rights.

On 7 February 2011, the referendum commission published the final results, with 98.83% voting in favour of independence. While the ballots were suspended in 10 of the 79 counties for exceeding 100% of the voter turnout, the number of votes were still well over the requirement of 60% turnout, and the majority vote for secession is not in question.

The predetermined date for the creation of an independent state was 9 July 2011.


In 1847, seven disaffected Catholic cantons formed a separate alliance because of moves to change the cantons of Switzerland from a confederation to a more centralized government federation. This effort was crushed in the Sonderbund War and a new Swiss Federal Constitution was created. [55]


Donetsk status referendum organized by pro-Russian separatists. A line to enter a polling place, 11 May 2014 2014-05-11. Referendum v Donetske 014.jpg
Donetsk status referendum organized by pro-Russian separatists. A line to enter a polling place, 11 May 2014

In 2014 after the start of Russian intervention in Ukraine, several groups of people declared independence of several Ukrainian regions:

United Kingdom

A mural in Belfast depicting the Easter Rising of 1916 Easter 1916.jpg
A mural in Belfast depicting the Easter Rising of 1916

The Republic of Ireland is the only part of the British Isles that has withdrawn from the country. Ireland proclaimed independence in 1916 and, as the Irish Free State, gained independence in 1922. The United Kingdom has a number of secession movements:

United States

Discussions and threats of secession often surface in American politics, and secession was declared during the American Civil War. However, in 1869 the United States Supreme Court ruled in Texas v. White , 74 U.S. 700 (1869) that unilateral secession was not permitted saying that the union between a state (Texas in the case before the bar) "was as complete, as perpetual, and as indissoluble as the union between the original States. There was no place for reconsideration or revocation, except through revolution or through consent of the States." [30] [29]

In January 2021, after President Donald J. Trump lost to Joe Biden in a hotly debated election, President Trump encouraged his supporters to march on the Capitol building. The supporters proceeded to break into, and invade the building forcing an evacuation of the area. In the coming days after the hullabaloo had subsided, there were growing threats by militia groups and other Southern organizations to secede from the U.S.

Thought leaders including Michael Malice have proposed that non-violent secession is a viable and humane outcome of the political strife that the U.S. faces in 2021.


North Yemen and South Yemen merged in 1990; tensions led to a 1994 southern secession which was crushed in a civil war. [60]


A destroyed T-34-85 tank in Karlovac, Croatian War of Independence, 1992 A destroyed T-34-85 tank in Karlovac, Croatia.jpg
A destroyed T-34-85 tank in Karlovac, Croatian War of Independence, 1992

On June 25, 1991, Croatia and Slovenia seceded from the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Bosnia and Herzegovina and North Macedonia also declared independence, after which the federation broke up, causing the separation of the remaining two countries Serbia and Montenegro. Several wars ensued between FR Yugoslavia and seceding entities and among other ethnic groups in Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and later, Kosovo. Montenegro peacefully separated from its union with Serbia in 2006.

Kosovo declared de facto independence on February 17, 2008, and was recognized by several dozen countries, but officially remains under United Nations administration.

See also




Related Research Articles

The right of a people to self-determination is a cardinal principle in modern international law, binding, as such, on the United Nations as authoritative interpretation of the Charter's norms. It states that people, based on respect for the principle of equal rights and fair equality of opportunity, have the right to freely choose their sovereignty and international political status with no interference.

Separatism is the advocacy of cultural, ethnic, tribal, religious, racial, governmental or gender separation from the larger group. As with secession, separatism conventionally refers to full political separation. Groups simply seeking greater autonomy are not separatist as such. Some critics equate separatism with religious segregation, racist segregation, or sexist segregation, but most separatists argue that separation by choice may serve useful purposes and is not the same as government-enforced segregation. There is some academic debate about this definition, and in particular how it relates to secessionism, as has been discussed online.

<i>Reference Re Secession of Quebec</i>

Reference Re Secession of Quebec, [1998] 2 SCR 217 is a landmark judgment of the Supreme Court of Canada regarding the legality, under both Canadian and international law, of a unilateral secession of Quebec from Canada.

In politics, regionalism is a political ideology focusing on the "development of a political or social system based on one or more" regions and/or the national, normative or economic interests of a specific region, group of regions or another subnational entity, gaining strength from or aiming to strengthen the "consciousness of and loyalty to a distinct region with a homogeneous population", similarly to nationalism. More specifically, "regionalism refers to three distinct elements: movements demanding territorial autonomy within unitary states; the organization of the central state on a regional basis for the delivery of its policies including regional development policies; political decentralization and regional autonomy".

Secessionist movements of Canada

There have been various movements within Canada for secession.

A multinational state is a sovereign state that comprises two or more nations or states. This contrasts a nation state, where a single nation accounts for the bulk of the population. Depending on the definition of "nation", a multinational state might also be multicultural or multilingual.

Ordinance of Secession

An Ordinance of Secession was the name given to multiple resolutions drafted and ratified in 1860 and 1861, at the beginning of the Civil War, by which each seceding Southern state or territory formally declared secession from the United States of America. South Carolina, Mississippi, Georgia, and Texas also issued separate documents explaining their reasons for secession.

Secessionism in Western Australia Pro-independence sentiment and movement in Western Australia

Secessionism has been a recurring feature of Western Australia's political landscape since shortly after Federation in 1901. The idea of self-governance or secession has often been discussed through local newspaper articles and editorials. On a number of occasions secession has been a serious political issue for the State, including in a successful but unimplemented 1933 State referendum.

Thomas Herbert Naylor was an American economist and professor. From Jackson, Mississippi, he was a Professor Emeritus of Economics at Duke University, the author of thirty books, and a founder of the Second Vermont Republic (2003). Naylor authored ten academic books and three books advocating secession.

Independence referendum Referendum to decide whether a territory should become an independent country

An independence referendum is a type of referendum in which the citizens of a territory decide whether the territory should become an independent sovereign state. An independence referendum that results in a vote for independence does not always ultimately result in independence.

Legal status of Texas Standing of Texas as a political entity

The legal status of Texas is the standing of Texas as a political entity. While Texas has been part of various political entities throughout its history, including 10 years during 1836–1846 as the independent Republic of Texas, the current legal status is as a state of the United States of America.

In the context of the United States, secession primarily refers to the voluntary withdrawal of one or more states from the Union that constitutes the United States; but may loosely refer to leaving a state or territory to form a separate territory or new state, or to the severing of an area from a city or county within a state. Advocates for secession are called disunionists by their contemporaries in various historical documents.

Texas secession movements

Texas secession movements refer to the secession of Texas during the American Civil War and the activities of modern organizations supporting such effort to become an independent sovereign nation since the 1990s.

The Anglophone Problem, as it is commonly referred to in Cameroon, is a socio-political issue rooted in Cameroon's colonial legacies from the Germans, British, and the French.

Secession in China

Secession in China refers to several secessionist movements in the People's Republic of China.


  1. 1 2 Allen Buchanan, "Secession", Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2007.
  2. Pavkovic, Aleksandar; Radan, Peter (2013). The Ashgate Research Companion to Secession. Burlington, VT: Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. p. 3. ISBN   9780754677024.
  3. 1 2 Pavkovic, Aleksandar; Radan, Peter (2007). Creating New States: Theory and Practice of Secession. Burlington, VT: Ashgate Publishing. p. 6. ISBN   9780754671633.
  4. Pavkovic, Aleksandar; Radan, Peter (2008). On the Way to Statehood: Secession and Globalisation. Burlington, VT: Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. p. 133. ISBN   9780754673798.
  5. Allen Buchanan, Secession: The Morality of Political Divorce From Fort Sumter to Lithuania and Quebec, West View Press, 1991.
  6. 1 2 Butt, Ahsan I. (2017-11-15). Secession and Security: Explaining State Strategy against Separatists. Cornell Studies in Security Affairs. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press. ISBN   9781501713941.
  7. Allen Buchanan, How can We Construct a Political Theory of Secession?, paper presented October 5, 2006 to the International Studies Association.
  8. Anthony H. Birch, "Another Liberal Theory of Secession". Political Studies 32, 1984, 596–602.
  9. Jane Jacobs, Cities and the Wealth of Nations, Vintage, 1985.
  10. Frances Kendall and Leon Louw, After Apartheid: The Solution for South Africa, Institute for Contemporary Studies, 1987. One of several popular books they wrote about canton-based constitutional alternatives that include an explicit right to secession.
  11. Leopold Kohr, The Breakdown of Nations, Routledge & K. Paul, 1957
  12. Human Scale, Coward, McCann & Geoghegan, 1980.
  13. "Full text of "The writings of Thomas Jefferson;"". Retrieved 12 August 2015.
  14. University of Technology, Sydney description of Aleksandar Pavkovic
  15. 1 2 Aleksandar Pavkovic, Secession, Majority Rule and Equal Rights: a Few Questions, Macquarie University Law Journal, 2003.
  16. Steven Yates, "When Is Political Divorce Justified" in David Gordon, 1998.
  17. Allen Buchanan, Secession: The Morality of Political Divorce From Fort Sumter to Lithuania and Quebec, Chapter 3, pp. 87–123.
  18. Coggins, Bridget (2011). "Friends in High Places: International Politics and the Emergence of States from Secessionism". International Organization. 65 (3): 433–467. doi:10.1017/S0020818311000105. ISSN   1531-5088.
  19. Gehring, Kai; Schneider, Stephan A. (2020). "Regional resources and democratic secessionism". Journal of Public Economics. 181: 104073. doi: 10.1016/j.jpubeco.2019.104073 . ISSN   0047-2727.
  20. Carter, David B.; Goemans, H. E. (2011). "The Making of the Territorial Order: New Borders and the Emergence of Interstate Conflict". International Organization. 65 (2): 275–309. doi:10.1017/S0020818311000051. ISSN   0020-8183. JSTOR   23016813.
  21. Griffiths, Ryan D. (2015). "Between Dissolution and Blood: How Administrative Lines and Categories Shape Secessionist Outcomes". International Organization. 69 (3): 731–751. doi:10.1017/S0020818315000077. ISSN   0020-8183.
  22. Abramson, Scott F.; Carter, David B. (2016). "The Historical Origins of Territorial Disputes". American Political Science Review. 110 (4): 675–698. doi:10.1017/S0003055416000381. ISSN   0003-0554.
  23. Thorhallsson, Baldur; Steinsson, Sverrir (2017-05-24), "Small State Foreign Policy", Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Politics, Oxford University Press, doi:10.1093/acrefore/9780190228637.013.484, ISBN   978-0-19-022863-7 , retrieved 2020-05-02
  24. 1 2 3 Fazal, Tanisha M.; Griffiths, Ryan D. (2014). "Membership Has Its Privileges: The Changing Benefits of Statehood". International Studies Review. 16 (1): 79–106. doi:10.1111/misr.12099. ISSN   1521-9488.
  25. 1 2 Alesina, Alberto. "The Size of Nations". The MIT Press. Retrieved 2020-05-02.
  26. Thorhallsson, Baldur (2018), "The small state in international relations", "The Small State in International Relations" from Small States and Shelter Theory: Iceland's External Affairs (Routledge, 2019), Routledge, pp. 13–23, doi:10.4324/9780429463167-2, ISBN   978-0-429-46316-7 , retrieved 2020-05-02
  27. Lake, David A.; O’mahony, Angela (2004). "The Incredible Shrinking State". Journal of Conflict Resolution. 48 (5): 699–722. doi:10.1177/0022002704267766. ISSN   0022-0027. S2CID   8619491.
  28. 1 2 3 4 Andrei Kreptul, The Constitutional Right of Secession in Political Theory and History, Journal of Libertarian Studies, Ludwig von Mises Institute, Volume 17, no. 4 (Fall 2003), pp. 39 – 100.
  29. 1 2 Aleksandar Pavković, Peter Radan, Creating New States: Theory and Practice of Secession, p. 222, Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., 2007.
  30. 1 2 Texas v. White, 74 U.S. 700 (1868) at Cornell University Law School Supreme Court collection.
  31. Aleksandar Pavkovic and Peter Radan, In Pursuit of Sovereignty and Self-determination: Peoples, States and Secession in the International Order, Index of papers, Macquarie University Law Journal, 1, 2003.
  32. Xenophon Contiades, Sixth Scholarly Panel: Cultural Identity in the New Europe, 1st Global Conference on Federalism and the Union of European Democracies, March 2004. Archived January 5, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  33. "The Reform of the Constitution in 2003". Retrieved 2017-01-02.
  34. Santosh C. Saha, Perspectives on contemporary ethnic conflict, p. 63, Lexington Books, 2006 ISBN   0-7391-1085-3.
  35. Paul D. Elliot, The East Timor Dispute, The International and Comparative Law Quarterly, Vol. 27, No. 1 (Jan., 1978).
  36. James J. Fox, Dionísio Babo Soares, Out of the ashes: destruction and reconstruction of East Timor, p. 175, ANU E Press, 2003, ISBN   0-9751229-1-6
  37. Thomas D. Musgrave, Self-determination and national minorities, p. xiii, Oxford University Press, 2000 ISBN   0-19-829898-6
  38. Poptcheva, Eva-Maria (February 2016). "Article 50 TEU: Withdrawal of a Member State from the EU" (PDF).
  39. Linz, Juan; Stepan, Alfred; Yadav, Yogendra (2007). 'Nation State' or 'State Nation': India in Comparative Perspective. Oxford University Press. pp. 81–82. ISBN   978-0-19-568368-4.
  40. "UNPO: West Balochistan". Retrieved 12 August 2015.
  41. "Opinion Polls among Residents of the Okinawa Prefecture (Japanese)". Asahi Shinbun Digital. Asahi Shinbun. 12 May 2017. Retrieved 22 January 2021.
  42. Molasky, Michael S., 1956– (8 March 2001). The American Occupation of Japan and Okinawa : Literature and Memory. ISBN   978-0-203-98168-9. OCLC   1048580450.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  43. Daly, Samuel Fury Childs (2020-08-07). A History of the Republic of Biafra. Cambridge University Press. ISBN   978-1-108-88774-8.
  44. Moses, A. Dirk, editor. Heerten, Lasse, editor. (6 July 2017). Postcolonial conflict and the question of genocide : the Nigeria-Biafra War, 1967–1970. ISBN   978-1-351-85866-3. OCLC   993762001.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  45. No Winner Seen in Somalia's Battle With Chaos New York Times, June 2, 2009
  46. The Transitional Federal Charter of the Somali Republic Archived 2009-03-25 at the Wayback Machine : "The Somali Republic shall have the following boundaries. (a) North; Gulf of Aden. (b) North West; Djibouti. (c) West; Ethiopia. (d) South south-west; Kenya. (e) East; Indian Ocean."
  47. "The World Factbook". Retrieved 12 August 2015.
  48. The Signs Say Somaliland, but the World Says Somalia
  49. UN in Action: Reforming Somaliland's Judiciary
  50. SOUTH AFRICA: Cry of Secession TIME , Monday, May 11, 1953
  51. Secession Talked by Some Anti-Republicans, Saskatoon Star-Phoenix , 11 October 1960
  52. Launching Democracy in South Africa: The First Open Election, April 1994, R. W. Johnson, Lawrence Schlemmer, Yale University Press, 1996
  53. Party Wants the Cape to Secede", Business Day , December 24, 1993.
  54. Cape Party Website, Monday, May 11, 1953
  55. A Brief Survey of Swiss History, Switzerland Federal Department of Foreign Affairs.
  56. "Federalization supporters in Luhansk proclaim people's republic". TASS: World. Retrieved 12 August 2015.
  57. "Ukraine crisis: Pro-Russia activists take Luhansk offices". BBC News. 29 April 2014. Retrieved 18 January 2015.
  58. "Luhansk regional council backs referendum on region's status". Retrieved 6 May 2014.
  59. Smout, Alistair; MacLellan, Kylie; Holton, Kate (September 19, 2014). "Scotland stays in UK, but Britain faces change". Reuters – Special Report. Retrieved September 19, 2014.
  60. Hiro, Dilip (2019-03-01), "Saudi-Iranian Détente", Cold War in the Islamic World, Oxford University Press, pp. 141–162, doi:10.1093/oso/9780190944650.003.0009, ISBN   978-0-19-094465-0

Further reading