Stability is a central component in the operation of the international system. Reflecting its necessity, the principles of territorial integrity and state sovereignty are deeply engrained in international law. Secession challenges these tenets through the right to self-determination. However, the right to self-determination is not a generalized right to secede, and secession remains a rare occurrence. This has held uniquely true to Africa, where colonialism left a legacy of non-viable states and ripe conditions for secession, yet South Sudan and Eritrea have been the only cases in the half of a century since decolonization. Existing research on secession has primarily sought to understand where it occurs and why. A deficit in the literature of secession exists as to what differentiates successful cases of secession from failures. Drawing local, regional and international factors of significance from case study analysis of Eritrea, South Sudan, Katanga, Biafra and Somaliland, this research finds that the presence of high-intensity, long duration civil war that generates regional instability strongly correlates with the outcome of a secession. The presence of physical or material resources does not necessarily enhance the viability of a secession, and the strength of a separatist legal claim as well as their fulfillment of the qualifications of statehood are dependent on other factors.
"Redrawing Borders in Africa: Norms and Exceptions,"
Proceedings of GREAT Day: Vol. 2012
, Article 16.
Available at: https://knightscholar.geneseo.edu/proceedings-of-great-day/vol2012/iss1/16