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Catalans May Not Have the Right to Unilateral Secession – But They Do Possess the Right to Present Such a Claim

10 octubre, 2017

Blog of the IACL, AIDC

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By Martin Scheinin, Professor of International Law and Human Rights (European University Institute, Florence) 

This brief blog post addresses the purported referendum on 1 October in Catalonia, concerning the question whether that province of Spain should unilaterally proceed towards independent statehood. The purpose of this post is to provide some context to what I wrote as five separate tweets on Twitter the evening of 1 October and then on 2 October reposted as a Twitter “thread” with some additional tweets as explanations. The Twitter thread posted as @MartinScheinin reads as follows:

1. Peoples (but not all groups) have a legal right to self-determination. In exceptional circumstances, also a right to unilateral secession

1a. Decolonisation is the typical, but not the sole, case where the quest for self-determination justifies also secession as its form

2. In most cases, a people’s right to self-determination means a right to good faith negotiations about…

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