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2020 | Buch

Perspectives on Secession

Theory and Case Studies


Über dieses Buch

This book explores the changing nature of secessionist attempts in connection with rapidly evolving geopolitical and technological landscapes. By presenting theoretical chapters as well as case studies on various secessionist movements around the globe, the contributing authors study a range of topics, including: the role of the media in secessionist conflicts; secessionist referenda and the viability of secessionist attempts in terms of their internal dimension; and external support and interference. The book will appeal to political scientists and international relations scholars who are interested in the processes, politics and geopolitical implications of secessionist movements.


Secessionist movements were throughout history always perceived by their parent states as a violation of the order that, consequently, needs to be restored. Secession itself was thus understood as a negative phenomenon and states, if possible, tried to counter it by force. This, however, not always succeeded. One of the most well-known examples of a successful secession resulting in an establishment of a small, yet powerful, imperial power is the secession of the 16th century Netherlands from the Spanish Habsburg monarchy. An example of an unsuccessful secessionist attempt would, on the other hand, include the separation of the southern states and an establishment of the Confederate States of America in the 19th century. 19th century was also a period of the finalization of the colonial division of the world among the European powers while the American continent underwent the process of decolonization connected to several secessionist attempts—Texas was a successful case, despite deciding to unite with the US a decade into its independence, while Yucatán in southern Mexico or Southern Rio Grande (the Riograndense Republic) in Brazil were reincorporated by their respective parent state.
Vladimír Baar
Self-determination and Secession: The Normative Discourse Yesterday and Today
This chapter covers secession and the principle of self-determination. It starts with the normative state of play in the 19th century and until 1914; then moves on to the brief heyday of national self-determination in 1919–1923; and then covers the self-determination of people from 1945 until today as a UN norm. Then secession is examined and the options open to international society for exceptional secessionist self-determination, for instance in cases of some federations. The three main schools of thought on secession are examined (remedial theory, choice theory and national theory) and the author concludes with his own remedial approach.
Alexis Heraclides
Secession in the Post-truth, Post-order World: A View from Africa
This  chapter analyses the secessionism in Africa. Looking at the root causes of the secessionism at the continent in the 21st century it helps its reader to understand the underlying causes for the movement´s success and possible counter-reactions by the governments.
Eeben Barlow
Democracy, Realism and Independence Referendums
The chapter analyses the factors conducive to recognizing independence referendums. After a tour d’horizon of the history of referendums on independence and a summary of the legal position, the chapter argues that independence referendums are most likely to be implemented when this in the interest of the three Western Powers on the UN Security Council. While there is a statistically significant correlation between the support for independence (the yes-vote) and international recognition, this is much lower than the 100% association between support of the three permanent Western Powers on the Security Council and international recognition. Countries may cite legal, democratic and philosophical principles but the statistical and historical facts suggest that these are of secondary importance when it comes to recognizing states after independence referendums.
Matt Qvortrup
Neomedievalism and International Recognition: Explaining the Level of Recognition Via Networking
The chapter presents an analysis of the impact of the nature of the patron state on the outcome of the secession in terms of international recognition. The text applies division of the global geopolitical landscape into three types of environment and argues that the networking nature of the Trans-Atlantic and Trans-Pacific part of the world allows for a larger level of bandwagoning compared to the strictly territorial authoritative states of Eurasia and elsewhere.
Bohumil Doboš, Martin Riegl
Foreign Interference in Secession Movements Through the Lens of Game Theory
The chapter covers the applicability of the game theory on secessionist movements. Though research has been completed on game theory concerning secession in multinational states, games incorporating the impact of external interference on the secession process have not been developed. The impact of a competing power on a multinational state containing one or more secession movements is explored. Relying on a recursive game, this study provides evidence that international powers outside the state benefit empirically from supporting secession movements and by undermining cooperation. If the multinational state is destabilized through secession or decentralization of power, the external player may utilize the resultant vacuum to exert greater influence in the area.
Cam Healy
Military Intervention in Aid of Secession: Kosovo and Its Aftermath
The chapter analyses the impact of the military interventions supportive to the secessions on the cases from the post-communist Europe. The text begins with the analysis of the case of Kosovo and presents clear conclusions on the impact of the Western intervention in the Balkans conflict for the contemporary situation in Ukraine.
Aleksandar Pavković
The Viability of De Facto States: Cases from the Caucasus and the Horn of Africa
This chapter examines the issue of establishing viability for de facto states. It looks into what it means for a de facto state to be viable; what the interplay is between viability on the one hand, and the need to secure de facto secession, de facto statehood, and internal legitimacy on the other; and how viability is fundamentally linked to the ability of de facto states to establish relationships with the wider world. The latter point, especially, is illustrated by unpacking cases from the Caucasus (Abkhazia and South Ossetia) and the Horn of Africa (Somaliland).
Giulia Prelz Oltramonti
A Mid-Rainy-Season Night’s Dream: Cyber-Secessionism in Cameroon, 2016–2018
The chapter presents a case study of Ambazonian bid for secession. Cameroon was also a site of secessionist tendencies in its Anglophone part. These appeared at a time when the importance and impact of the social media for the political processes increases. By analysing the media and social media reporting on the case, the text discovers important processes hidden behind the attempt.
Josef Kučera
“Free Trieste Movement”: A First Russian Intervention in Domestic Politics of a Western Country?
The chapter analyses the secessionist sentiments in the Italian port city of Trieste. The secessionist tendencies in Trieste are long-standing. The recent spike in the secessionist sentiments are, nonetheless, not only another chapter in the long-lasting story of the emancipation of the local identity. Maybe, it could also reflects the attempts of the Russian government to destabilize the EU countries.
Michele Pigliucci
A seemingly trivial question to which the international community has not found an answer yet. One may argue that political fragmentation of the political map of the world is a major concern of the international community. „The post-Second World War bipolar system, built on the norms of territorial integrity and non-intervention, was designed to preserve stability of the conservative intestate order and to protect territorial integrity of its members at any cost (Heraclides 1990, p. 351).” Likewise one could also point at differentiated international community’s approach to various forms of political fragmentation, not only non-consensual ones. For example a non-voluntary dissolution (of SFRY), defined by Crawford (2006, pp. 705–707) as an irreversible process when the consent of the central government for an entity to seek independent statehood does not seem to be necessary, was not actively opposed by the EC or the US which coordinated their diplomatic actions. As deeply covered in Chap. 2 by A. Heraclides, the thinking on the secession is very rich and number of positions throughout the history very wide.
Martin Riegl, Bohumil Doboš
Perspectives on Secession
herausgegeben von
Dr. Martin Riegl
Bohumil Doboš
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