A normative approach to state secession : in search of a legitimate right to secede

Lenong, Jentley (2013-12)

Thesis (LLM)-- Stellenbosch University, 2013.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Secession is one of the oldest and probably more controversial themes of public international law. The potential of a right to secede draws even more controversy amongst international law scholars and lawyers alike. This research merges classical international law perspectives on secession and the right to secede in particular, within a contemporary setting. Two research questions are answered: (i) Does a legitimate right to state secession exist under contemporary international law; if so, what are its normative characteristics? (ii) What is the position of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the realisation of a legitimate right to secede, considering its opinion in the Kosovo-case? The work follows a normative methodological approach in tackling and presenting the arguments towards and against the legitimacy of the right to secede. This allows for a clear interrogation of the norms constituting classic international law against the realities of an evolving pedagogy. Classical international law is traditionally statecentred, primarily due to the 1648 legacy of the Treaty (Peace) of Westphalia. However, contemporary international law has come to incorporate the roles of nonstate actors and even individuals. Consequently, the impact of secession extends beyond traditional international law norms like; territorial integrity and sovereignty, nationalism and uti possidetis. Moving forward, a critical inclusion within modern conceptualisation of secession needs to be considerations like, the right to selfdetermination and the promotion of human rights. The research departs with a clear comprehension of the status quo of a general theory of secession. The identification of a prescriptive general theory of secession remains rather elusive. However, cogent arguments are presented for the establishment of a right to secede with a sufficient legal foundation to support a general theory and find effective enforcement for the right. The arguments for the right to secede are rooted within a sound conceptual framework and historical context. In dealing with the normative characteristics of the right to secede, the historic reasoning of Shaw is utilised in order to establish a legal process for secession. This reasoning is applied in the presentation of the municipal manifestation of the right to secede, which traditionally is found in the constitutional entrenchments of the right. The relationship between the right to secede and selfdetermination is presented through a balancing of the components that constitute the right to self-determination. Following the Canadian Supreme Court’s contribution on the right to self-determination in the Quebec-case, the aspirations of peoples for selfdetermination needs to follow this dual view of self-determination as consisting of the right to internal and external self-determination. The contemporary position of the right to secede under international law is best illustrated in the ICJ treatment of secession in its Kosovo Opinion. The focus here is to present new insights into the impact of unilateralism and multilateralism in the interaction with secession. Ultimately, this research in its normative methodological approach presents the arguments both ancient and contemporary for the legitimate potential of a right to secede.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: In die internationale reg, is sessessie (afskeiding) sekerlik een van die meer kontroversiële temas. Binne die geledere van akademici en praktisyns veroorsaak die moontlikheid van ‘n reg tot afskeiding selfs meer onenigheid. Met hierdie navorsing word die klassieke sienings hieroor in die internationale reg saamgesnoer binne ‘n meer hedendaagse uitleg. Twee navorsingsvrae word beantwoord: (i) Bestaan daar ‘n legitieme reg vir staatsafskeiding binne die hendendaagse internationale reg en indien wel wat is die normatiewe karaktereienskappe van so ‘n reg? (ii) Wat is die stand van die Internationale hof vir Geregtigheid (ICJ) aangaande die verwesinliking van ‘n legitieme reg op afskeiding in die lig van die hof se uitspraak in die Kosovo-Opinie. Die navorsing volg ‘n normatiewe metodologiese benadering om die argumente teen asook vir die legitieme reg op afskeiding te voer. Dit skep ruimte vir ‘n duidelike bevraagtekening van die klassieke internationale regsnorme teen die agtergrond van ‘n transformerende pedagogie. Die klassieke internationale reg is kenmerkend staatsgeorienteerd, grootendeels as gevolg van die nalatingskap van die 1648 Verdrag (Vrede) van Westphalia. Tog gee hedendaagse internasionale reg erkening aan die handelinge van nie-regeringsentiteite en selfs individue. Gevolglik, strek die impak van sessessie heel verder as tradisionele internasionale regsnorme soos; territoriale integriteit en soewereiniteit, nasionalisme en uti possidetis. 'n Kritiese blik op die moderne begrip van sessessie moet oorwegings soos die reg op selfbeskikking en die bevordering van menseregte in ag neem om vooriutgang te bewerkstellig. Die navorsing begin met 'n duidelike begrip van die status quo insake 'n algemene teorie van sessessie. Die identifisering van 'n voorskriftelike algemene teorie van afskeiding bly ongelukkig ontwykend. Tog word oortuigende argumente vir die vestiging van 'n reg om af te skei gevoer. Dit gaan gepaard met 'n voldoende regsgrondslag wat 'n algemene teorie ondersteun, asook die moontlikheid vir die doeltreffende uitvoering van die reg. Die argumente ter ondersteuning van die reg tot afskeiding word geïllustreer binne 'n verantwoordbare konseptuele raamwerk en historiese konteks. In die hantering van die normatiewe kenmerke van die reg word die klassieke redenasie van Shaw benut ten einde 'n regsproses vir afskeiding te vestig. Hierdie redenasie word toegepas by die handtering van voorbeelde oor plaaslike manifestasies van die reg to afskeiding. Hierdie plaaslike manifestasies word tradisioneel gevind binne state se grondwetlike erkennings van die reg. Die verhouding tussen die reg om af te skei en selfbeskikking word aangebied deur 'n balansering van die komponente waaruit die reg op selfbeskikking bestaan. Na aanleiding van die Kanadese Hooggeregshof se bydrae tot die reg om selfbeskikking in die Quebec-saak, is die aspirasies van volkere vir selfbeskikking gevestig in die reg om interne en eksterne selfbeskikking. Die kontemporêre posisie van die reg om af te skei ingevolge die internasionale reg word goed geïllustreer in die Wêreldhof se behandeling van afskeiding in die Kosovo-Opinie. Die fokus hier is die uitleg van nuwe insig oor die mag van unilateralisme en multilateralisme in die interaksies oor sessessie. Ten slotte bied hierdie navorsing in sy normatiewe metodologiese benadering die argumente, beide antiek en kontemporêre, vir die legitieme potensiaal van 'n reg om af te skei.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/85675
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