Delegate Name: Goni Wong
Determining Legitimacy of Secession Movements
Federative Republic of Brazil
The Roeper School
Brazil is riddled with secessionist movements, recently states such Sul and Sao Paulo in the south of Brazil have been pushing to be an autonomous region. Brazil is not the only country plagued with these issues. Ranging from mobs of Catalan nationalists marching down the streets of Barcelona to Kurds fighting for their self-determination in the middle east, the international community as a whole faces this issue together.
The topic of self-determination was one of the first principles to be found in the UN charter. “This has been interpreted largely to mean the right of a people to self-determination within the internal workings of a state, not necessarily the right of a people to a state of their own.” (Sunderlin). The right of peoples and nations to self-determination (GA 7th session, 1952) was one of the first “guidelines” for determining legitimate secession movements. It was and is a very vague guideline that encompasses multiple aspects of the issue such as, human rights, equal rights, universal peace, maintenance of self determination etc.
Brazil itself became what it is today through a secessionist movement against the Portuguese crown. Brazil has a strong history of understanding rights to self-determination and encourages other emerging states to have a level of power to determine their own future. That being said, not just any state can declare itself independent, a secession movement must fulfill some criteria, examples of criteria being under; Declaration on Principles of International Law Concerning Friendly Relations and Cooperation Among States in Accordance with the Charter of the United Nations and The Right of Peoples and Nations to Self-Determination. Secession movements such as “The South Is My Country” (Secession movement in southern Brazil) are deemed illegitimate due to an informal and disproportionate reflection of voters living in this area.
Brazil would like to see future cooperation between UN countries to outline further criteria to determine a legitimate secession movement. Additionally, Brazil would look favorably upon a way for either side of a secessionist movement to be able to be a part of facilitated diplomatic summits to discuss the issue at hand. In doing so, violence in Secession movements such as the Kurdish secessionist movement could be minimized or possibly eradicated. These summits would be held in countries with little stake in the outcome and a history of neutrality, e.g. Switzerland, Sweden etc.