Territorial Disputes in the Context of Secessionist Conflicts
M. Kohen & M. Hebie (eds), Research Handbook on Territorial Disputes in International Law, Edward Elgar Publishing, 2017
48 Pages Posted: 8 Mar 2017
Date Written: June 5, 2016
In this chapter, we explore the territorial dimension of non-decolonization secessionist conflicts in international law. Our investigation is divided in three parts. The first part focuses on secessions resulting from violations of jus cogens norms. We conclude that contemporary international law prohibits such secessions and prescribes non-recognition as the legal consequence. In the second part, we explore the legal framework under general international law relating to unilateral secessions that do not involve violations of jus cogens. We conclude that even though international law neither authorizes nor outright prohibits unilateral secession it sets many obstacles and presumptions against its ultimate success, but ultimately leaves some space for the principle of effectiveness in exceptional cases. Our third part investigates consensual agreements in the context of secessionist conflicts, which have either led to the creation of new states or accommodated the self-determination aspirations of separatist entities within parent states based on territorial self-governance arrangements. This part also highlights the interplay between consent, effectivités and uti possidetis in state practice and also gives a close look to three arbitrations that dealt with territorial disputes in various non/post-colonial contexts.
Keywords: secession, self-determination, territorial disputes, effectiveness, jus cogens, recognition, non-recognition, uti possidetis, consent, territorial self-government, autonomy
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