Australian Institute of International Affairs. European Separatist Movements. oct2012
By Katherine Tranter
The response of the international community to separatist movements in recent decades has been varied. While the claims of some separatist movements are not recognised by the international community, other movements are perceived as having a justified right to self-determination. The use of violence by a separatist group and the treatment of claimants for self-determination by a central government can influence the international community’s response, as can national interests.
The various texts of international law that address the right to self-determination are ambiguous. While a number of international conventions espouse the right to self-determination, many also promote the “principle of territorial integrity”, that is, the right of existing states to prevent regions from seceding. In addition, no state explicitly recognises the right to secession.
It has been argued that the international community responds to claims for self-determination based on the claimant group’s perceived capacity for democracy or accountability to similar standards of legitimate governance that are applied to states. Self-determination or secession movements that have democratic norms are more likely to be recognised and supported by the international community. Separatist groups engaging in terrorist activity and using violence that targets civilian populations aregenerally not perceived to have legitimate claims to secession. Claims for self-determination are also more likely to be supported by the international community when they are victims of human rights violations.
Read the full article here.