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Secession. International Law Perspectives

Editor: Marcelo G. Kohen (Argentina), Universidad de Ginebra

Academic (Cambridge University Press). Abril 2006 – Relanzamiento 2014 (Graduate Institute Geneve). || ISBN: 9780521849289

Contributors: Marcelo G. Kohen, Christian Tomuschat, Andrew Clapham, Georg Nolte, John Dugard, David Raic, Théodore Christakis, Antonello Tancredi, Andreas Zimmermann, Olivier Corten, Fatsah Ouguergouz, Djacoba Liva Tehindrazanarivelo, Li-ann Thio, Photini Pazartzis, Frida Armas Pfirter, Silvina González Napolitano, Patrick Dumberry, Christian Dominicé, Georges Abi-Saab


The end of the Cold War brought about new secessionist aspirations and the strengthening and re-awakening of existing or dormant separatist claims everywhere. The creation of a new independent entity through the separation of part of the territory and population of an existing State raises serious difficulties as to the role of international law. This 2006 book offers a comprehensive study of secession from an international law perspective, focusing on practice and applicable rules of international law. It includes theoretical analyses and a scrutiny of practice throughout the world by eighteen distinguished authors from Western and Eastern Europe, North and Sub-Saharan Africa, North and Latin America, and Asia. Core questions are addressed from different perspectives, and in some cases with divergent views. The reader is also exposed to a far-reaching picture of State practice, including some cases which are rarely mentioned and often neglected in scholarly analysis of secession.

— Exhaustive analysis of a hotly debated topic in international law
— Examines the issues of self-determination versus State unity
— Devotes a section entirely to secessionist practice in each region of the world


Catalonia is the inverse situation. The Spanish Government, and the Spanish Supreme Court, established that a unilateral referendum organised by the Catalonian Regional Government late this year is contrary to the Constitution. Like in the previous cases, international law does not recognise the application of the principle of self-determination in such circumstances. Hence, a unilateral secession by Catalonia would not have either constitutional or international law support.


Falkland Islands?
In this case, there is a sovereignty dispute between Argentina and the United Kingdom and the territory is subject to a process of decolonisation by the United Nations. The UK expelled Argentina from the islands and installed its own population. The UN General Assembly, as the organ in charge of the process of decolonisation, has not applied the principle of the rights of peoples to self-determination to the current British inhabitants of the islands and has called the parties to settle their sovereignty dispute as a way to decolonise the territory.


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