September 16, 2019
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 In Determining the Legitimacy of Secession Movements

Country: Guatemala
Delegate Name: Shriya Nallan Chakravarthi

Special Political Committee
The Legitimacy of Secession Movements
The Republic of Guatemala
Shriya Nallan Chakravarthi
Forest Hills Eastern

There are at least 60 secessionist movements alive around the world, however, only a minority succeed. The majority of these movements slowly fade away or die violently. To the secessionist movements, secession could mean a new, safer life, but the process has to be safe for all involved parties, such as the state, residents, secessionists, and the country as a whole. There should be a way to decide legitimacy to protect the right to self-determination while maintaining what is best for the country. The United Nations have addressed this loosely in the Declaration on Principles of International Law concerning Friendly Relations and Cooperation among States. The UN created the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), but the guidelines are broad, and the interpretations vary.

Guatemala seceded from the Mexican Empire in the 1820s, and afterward, there have not been many major secessionist movements recently. There is a chance of a secessionist movement with the indigenous peoples of Guatemala, but there is little evidence or legitimacy whatsoever. Guatemala ratified and is bound to ICCPR. The ICCPR states that all “peoples have the right of self-determination. By virtue of that right, they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social, and cultural development.” The phrase ‘all peoples’ indicates that self-determination is a collective right, not an individual right. Guatemala believes that legitimate secession movements must have a group of people with the same goal and determination. Guatemala is part of the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). ICESCR believes that all people have the right to self-determination, and through that, the group may freely show their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development, but as a 1999 UN Guatemalan delegate had said, secession and self-determination “should not be the detriment of territorial or independent integrity of the states”

The Republic of Guatemala recommends The United Nations create a specific definition of legitimate secession movements. As tensions rise in the country, a tighter and more detailed description of legitimate secession will help Guatemala determine what is the right course of action to ensure the integrity of the country while respecting the rights of the secessionist movements.

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