Liberation Movement

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A liberation movement or freedom movement is a process in which a group organizes an uprising against a colonial or neo-colonial power or against a dictatorial government , i.e. organizes a struggle for freedom . The acting group itself is also called the liberation movement . The term is applied to nationalist and ethnicist movements on the one hand, but also to social emancipatory and socialist movements on the other .


If the goal of a liberation movement is the establishment of a nation state on its own territory ( separatism ), it is also called an independence or autonomy movement .

Liberation movements are often carried out by particularly oppressed sections of the population, over which another section of the population rules, whereby religious motives are often of decisive importance. It is not uncommon for Christian communities to provide impulses to overcome oppression (cf. liberation theology ).

Liberation movements occur mainly in Latin America , Africa including the Arab states and in the successor states of the Soviet Union . In Europe, liberation movements played an important role in the formation of states up to the 20th century.

Significance under international law

In terms of international law, the classification of insurgents as (national) liberation movements is particularly explosive , since liberation movements recognized by the community of states have partial subjectivity under international law, they must therefore adhere to international humanitarian law and enjoy protection from the intervention of other states (intervention prohibition). At the same time, such a division is controversial, since the implicit support that a liberation movement receives in contrast to ordinary insurgents already constitutes in itself an intervention in the internal affairs and thus in the internal sovereignty of a state, contrary to international law . In addition, it can be noted that the decision about the existence of a liberating component in an armed rebel group is hardly a legal question itself, but takes place in the arbitrary field of international politics and the realpolitical interpretation of international law, which is prone to double standards and subliminal interests .

List of political and paramilitary groups that act as liberation movements

National Liberation Fronts
National Liberation Armies
National Liberation Movements