September 16, 2019
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 In Determining the Legitimacy of Secession Movements

Country: Romania
Delegate Name: Kenna Charbauski

Special Political Committee
Determining the Legitimacy of Secessionist Movements
Kenna Charbauski
Forest Hills Northern High School

One of the largest debates currently before the United Nations (UN) is determining the legitimacy of secession movements. With over 60 active secessionist movements in every continent taking place, there are many things to be considered. While preserving a state’s territorial integrity is of utmost importance, it is also necessary to consider the plights of the people, and whether they are being treated unjustly. Romania firmly believes in the preservation of territorial integrity in established states. In Article 30, paragraph 7 of the Constitution of Romania, it is made clear that unilateral secession is prohibited, stating “Any defamation of the country and the nation, any instigation to a war of aggression, to national, racial, class or religious hatred, any incitement to discrimination, territorial separatism, or public violence, as well as any obscene conduct contrary to morality shall be prohibited by law.” In this same statement it is also stated that national, racial, class or religious hatred, and any incitement to discrimination is against the law. This draws a thin line in determining the legitimacy of any movements.

The topic of secession is a current issue in Romania, with the Székely autonomy movement taking place. The Szeklers, a Hungarian sub-group in Eastern Transylvania, are demanding Hungarian autonomy. Although the Constitution of Romania states “Romania is a nation state, sovereign and independent, unitary and indivisible (Article 1),” the National Council for Combating Discrimination (CNDC) has found certain Romanian officials guilty of racism due to their anti-seccesion remarks. The Democratic Alliance of Hungarians submitted a draft legislation for the autonomy of Székely Land. The draft was automatically adopted by the Romanian Parliament after exceeding the 45-day deadline for debate. Romanian President Klaus Iohannis criticized the draft, speaking mockingly of it and the Szeklers. He was fined 5,000 lei by the CNDC for discrimination. The issue is an ongoing debate in Romania, with some arguing that the movement is clearly defined as illegal in the constitution, and others stating the denial of autonomy is a denial of their rights. The UN Charter does not clearly address the legitimacy of secessionist movements, which makes it difficult to determine the right of unilateral secession. Romania has not yet passed the draft to allow for Székely autonomy. It is necessary for secessionist movements to remain peaceful. Romania is debating the issue legally.

Romania urges the UN to pass clearer rules in relation to peaceful secession. The passage of secession related laws would assist Romania in the vital decision it must make. Although Romania has not allowed for Székely autonomy, it does recognize the plights of the people. Peaceful secession should have a strict process that can be followed by all members of the UN.

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