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Secession as opposed to dismembration

Secession ( Latin secessio , `` splitting off '' , `` going off the beaten track '', `` separation ''; the division of territory is also known as separation ) denotes in political terms the detachment of individual parts of the country from an existing state with the aim of forming an independent and new sovereign state of their own to join another state. In the course of a secession, one or more state subjects usually arise, and at the same time the reduced old state continues to exist , which is often referred to as the “rump state”, “remnant state” or “shrinking state”. Although that before the division of existing Altstaat or assignor due to its continuity and subject identity is not with the rump state of the successor states heard he must not retain its traditional name.

As separatism (from the Latin. Separatus for separated '(off) separately' individually ') are referred secession of a part of the population. They are often - but not necessarily - accompanied by armed conflicts. In the narrower sense, separatism stands for the ideological basis or the political-social action which, if successful, leads to a secession, which the old state does not contradict in today's reading. Separatism can, but does not have to be, regionalism or nationalism of minorities .

Right to secession

international law

It is controversial among international lawyers whether the right of peoples to self-determination also includes the right of minorities to withdraw from a state association. The prevailing opinion in jurisprudence rejects such an offensive right to self-determination with reference to the integrity interests of existing state associations, i.e. the defensive right to self-determination . Matthias Herdegen, for example, takes the view that a discriminated minority, whose human rights are fundamentally violated and who are excluded from the process of political decision-making, should be granted the right to secession.

Another problem is what a “ people ” actually is in the sense of the peoples' right to self-determination. If, for example, an ethnic group is not recognized as such in a nation state, it will not be granted any special rights.

There are a number of secessionist peoples and regions who strive for independence peacefully as well as aggressively and militarily . Among these, some already have de facto full control of their territory . However, in order to be accepted into the United Nations as an independent state , a majority in the UN General Assembly is generally required ; In addition, recognition as a state can be applied for in the United Nations Security Council , whose five permanent members ( USA , Russia , China , France and Great Britain ) must agree.

Constitutional law


In the Federal Republic of Germany there are no constitutional articles or laws that would regulate the withdrawal of a member state or a specific area. The secession is neither allowed nor explicitly forbidden. On the other hand, anyone who tries to carry out a secession “by force or by threat of force” (“ high treason against the federal government” according to Section 81 of the Criminal Code) is expressly punishable.

On December 16, 2016, the Federal Constitutional Court decided not to accept an application from the Bavarian Party for decision. With the application, the Bavarian party wanted to force the approval of a referendum on the exit of the Free State of Bavaria from the Federal Republic of Germany, whereby this vote should only take place in Bavaria. The Federal Constitutional Court justified its rejection by stating that the individual states were not “masters of the Basic Law”, meaning that changes could not be made at state level.

United States

In the United States of America , the Supreme Court ruled in the Texas v. White decided that membership of the Union is irrevocable and that the US states therefore do not have a right to secession .

Historical examples

Conclusion of the Peace of Westphalia in 1648

As separatists radical are Congregationalists referred to in the second half of the 16th century by the Church of England separated since them the Reformation did not go far enough this church. In particular, they rejected the office of bishop . To escape persecution, emigrated a group of them who later Pilgrims ( Pilgrim Fathers was called), first in the United Netherlands and then crossed in 1620 on the Mayflower the Atlantic. Shortly before leaving the vessel at Cape Cod (Massachusetts) they wrote the Mayflower Compact ( Mayflower Compact ), which for the democratic development of communities in North America was fundamentally. They founded the Plymouth Colony .

The best known case of political secession was the separation of the slave-holding southern states from the United States in 1860/61 and the formation of the Confederate States (CSA) . It resulted in the Civil War , which ended with the restoration of the US state unity.

Successful wars of independence were those of the Old Confederation from the end of the 13th century and those of the Netherlands from 1568. Both were directed against the rule of the House of Habsburg and achieved the recognition of their independence by the Habsburgs in the Peace of Westphalia of 1648.

In the 19th and 20th centuries, several European states achieved their national independence through secession :

The last time in Germany was during the Allied occupation of the Rhineland in 1923 that Rhenish separatists attempted secession . They advocated the separation of the Rhineland from the Reich or the Land of Prussia , but failed due to the lack of support from the majority of the population. The French occupying power also tried to promote separatism in the Saar area. This plan failed when the Saar referendum on January 13, 1935 under the slogan “ Heim ins Reich ” had resulted in a majority in favor of the resettlement and the Saar area became part of the German Reich again on March 1, 1935 . Likewise, after the Second World War, the population voted on October 23, 1955 for the rejection of the Saar Statute and thus - instead of independence or further affiliation to France - for the incorporation of the Saar as a separate federal state into the Federal Republic .

The LTTE tried in 1983 in Sri Lanka for Tamils to establish an independent state that Tamil Eelam should be called. This broke out into the civil war in Sri Lanka , which lasted until 2009 with the defeat of the LTTE. The Tamils ​​felt oppressed and discriminated against by the Sinhalese people and government.

Separatist movements played a major role in the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1991 into Armenia , Azerbaijan , Estonia , Georgia , Kazakhstan , Latvia , Lithuania , Kyrgyzstan , Moldova , Russia , Tajikistan , Turkmenistan , Ukraine , Uzbekistan and Belarus . As founding members of the UN , the Belarusian SSR and the Ukrainian SSR had existed as separate subjects of international law since 1945 .

The detachment of the former republics of Slovenia , Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina from the Yugoslav state association in 1991/92 triggered several wars , especially in the latter two republics , which ended in 1995 with the Dayton Agreement . The separation of Macedonia happened peacefully at the same time. Serbia continued to appear as the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia , saw it as identical to the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY) and thus assumed a minor opinion ( see also sectionSpecial cases ”). Consequently, it assessed the events as secessions of the other republics. In May 2006, the majority of the population of Montenegro also voted for the dissolution of the union with Serbia, which was also carried out peacefully.

The collapse of Czechoslovakia on December 31, 1992, after Slovakia sought to secede , also proceeded peacefully .

A protracted war, however, preceded Eritrea's independence from Ethiopia that same year . In the Biafran war detachment failed previously in the second half of the 1960s Biafra from Nigeria . Similarly, the secession of the former People's Democratic Republic of Yemen from Yemen failed in a brief civil war in 1994 , after unification with the Yemeni Arab Republic only four years earlier .

One of the successful independence movements of the last few years is that in East Timor , which in 2002, after 24 years of occupation, guerrilla war and three years of UN administration, achieved the separation of its part of the island from Indonesia . Since the previous annexation of East Timor by Indonesia, which was contrary to international law , had never been recognized by the international community, no real secession of a sub-area took place. The most recent example is the secession of South Sudan from Sudan , which was declared after a successful independence referendum on July 9, 2011 in the new capital Juba. As of July 14, 2011, South Sudan has been the 193rd member state of the United Nations .

Current examples

Independence movements

There are currently in the European Union in Scotland , Catalonia , the Basque Country , Northern Ireland , South Tyrol , Sardinia , Veneto and both parts of Belgium as well as occasionally in Brittany and Bavaria (or in Franconia , again from the Free State Bavaria) political parties aiming for secession. In Corsica and the Basque country there have been terrorist attacks by separatists. In November 2011, ETA agreed a "permanent" ceasefire .

Greenland aims for independence from Denmark in the near future . The Republika Srpska is striving for independence from Bosnia and Herzegovina .

Active independence movements exist in the Kurdish areas of Turkey , Iraq and Iran , in Tibet and Uyguristan , in the Russian republic of Chechnya , in Québec (see the Renvoi relatif à la sécession du Québec ), in California (see California National Party and Calexit ), in Bougainville and in some minority areas of Myanmar , Moldova , Georgia and Azerbaijan , in southern Yemen ( Southern Movement / al-Hirak ), in Ukraine and in the north of Mali (→  Azawad ), in southern Brazil and also in northern and northeastern Spain (→  Basque Autonomous Community , Catalonia ).

Declarations of Independence

The following areas have declared their secession, but are not yet fully or not at all recognized as independent states:

  • Abkhazia - has been independent from Georgia since 1992 and was only supported by Russia (August 26, 2008), Nicaragua (September 3, 2008), Venezuela (September 10, 2009), Nauru (December 15, 2009) and Tuvalu ( September 23 , 2008) . September 2011).
  • Nagorno-Karabakh - officially part of Azerbaijan , independent since 1991 or occupied by Armenia and partially supported by Russia.
  • Democratic Arab Republic of the Sahara - proclaimed by POLISARIO in 1976 , ceasefire with Morocco since 1991, recognized by around 50 states.
  • The parliament of Kosovo, with its Albanian majority, declared independence from Serbia on February 17, 2008. While 114 of the 193 UN member states have recognized Kosovo as an independent state so far, a. contested by Serbia as well as Russia and China.
  • The Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol consider themselves separate from Ukraine since the referendum of March 16, 2014, which was carried out under the supervision of previously invaded Russian troops and which was decided illegally at gunpoint, and as part of the Ukraine since March 17, 2014 Russian Federation (see Crimean crisis ).
  • Somaliland (since 1991), Puntland (since 1998) and Galmudug (since 2006) - internationally not recognized independence from Somalia
  • South Ossetia - declared independence from Georgia in 1991 and was only recognized by Russia (August 26, 2008), Nicaragua (September 3, 2008), Venezuela (September 10, 2009) and Nauru (December 15, 2009).
  • Transnistria - split from the Republic of Moldova since 1991 and supported by Russia.
  • Chechnya - part of Russia under international law, declared itself independent from the former Soviet Union in 1991 .
  • Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus - since the occupation by Turkish troops in 1974 and in particular since the founding of the state on November 15, 1983, no longer regards itself as part of the Republic of Cyprus , but as a separate republic. It is only recognized by Turkey .

special cases

There is no case of secession in the case of the Taiwan conflict . Taiwan broke away from continental China as the Republic of China as a result of the Chinese Civil War , but to this day both Chinese states see themselves as legitimate representatives of China according to their constitution .

The legal situation was controversial after the break-up of Yugoslavia , which was seen partly as secession, partly as dismembration . The international community decided on the latter option (→  Badinter Commission ).

See also


Web links

Wiktionary: Secession  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Alexander Proelß , Acquisition and Loss of State Territory , in: Wolfgang Graf Vitzthum (Ed.), Völkerrecht , 6th edition 2013, p. 370; Kay Hailbronner / Marcel Kau, in: Graf Vitzthum (ed.), Völkerrecht , 5th ed., Rn. 173 f., Here u. a .: "In the case of a secession, the predecessor state continues to exist unchanged in a reduced area with the new legal status."
  2. Burkhard Schöbener , State Successor , in: ders. (Ed.): Völkerrecht. Lexicon of Central Terms and Topics , 2014, p. 413.
  3. ^ Theodor Schweisfurth , Völkerrecht , Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen 2006, chap. 9 § 5.II Rn. 206 , 218 .
  4. Herdegen, § 36 Rn. 5 ff.
  5. Herdegen, § 36 Rn. 6th
  6. See on this Samuel Salzborn , Divided Memory. German-Czech relations and the Sudeten German past , Lang, Frankfurt am Main 2008, p. 20 : “Because the members of the German minority were viewed by the state as German-speaking Czechoslovaks, they were given just as little separate [people's] group rights as all other citizens Czechoslovakia. Part of this understanding of democracy was that the Sudeten Germans - like everyone else - could represent their interests in the parliamentary system through their own parties . "
  7. BVerfG, decision of the 2nd Chamber of the Second Senate of December 16, 2016 - 2 BvR 349/16.
  8. Referendum 2014: Scotland votes on independence. Handelsblatt , March 21, 2013, accessed June 5, 2013 .
  9. The way to Bavaria's freedom. (PDF; 275 kB) Chap. 3: Legal Paths to Statehood . P. 6 , accessed on June 21, 2019 : "There are many comprehensible and well-founded legal approaches that support the admissibility of a Bavarian declaration of independence."
  10. Manfred Otzelberger: Popular initiative: Freedom for Francs , in: Focus Online , May 26, 1997. Accessed on January 19, 2014.
  11. Quote: "A separate federal state is the goal of a reorganization of the states in the Federal Republic of Germany." - from the basic program of the Party for Franks , adopted on October 31, 2009. Accessed on January 19, 2014.
  12. ^ See website of the Kosovar Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Countries Recognitions .
  13. Per Kristian Aale: Voting fraud secured pro-Russian majority in the Crimean parliament , Aftenposten, March 9, 2014, accessed on April 4, 2014 (English).
  14. ^ Votum on Crimea under force , in: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, January 27, 2015, p. 5. ( genios link ).
  15. Chavez recognizes South Ossetia and Abkhazia. In: Neue Zürcher Zeitung . September 11, 2009, accessed June 21, 2019 .