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Secession in International Law

A New Framework

Milena Sterio

Secession in International Law argues that the effective development of criteria on secession is a necessity in today’s world, because secessionist struggles can be analyzed through the legal lens only if we have specific legal rules to apply. Without legal rules, secessionist struggles are dominated by politics and sui generis approaches, which validate secessionist attempts based on geo-politics and regional states’ self-interest, as opposed to the law. By using a truly comparative approach, Milena Sterio has developed a normative international law framework on secession, which focuses on several factors to assess the legitimacy of a separatist quest.
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Chapter 7: Successful recent secessions

Milena Sterio


This chapter analyzes cases of recent successful secessions, including South Sudan, Kosovo, and Crimea. The chapter will discuss whether these instances of secession involved the right of self-determination, or whether they entailed different paradigms, leading to a new model and legal framework on secession. It concludes that it is difficult to analyze these cases as pure instances of secession, completely detached from the exercise of the right to self-determination. These cases are significant, however, because they shed light on circumstances under which groups have claimed the right to separate from their mother states. Such circumstances are in turn relevant for any discussion of a possible legal right to secession.

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