Hampson: Does last week’s creation of a Southern Sudanese state point to secession as the solution to other African conflicts?

By: /
19 July, 2011
By: Fen Osler Hampson
Director of the Global Security program and Distinguished Fellow at CIGI and Chancellor's Professor at Carleton University

The short answer is a categorical NO.  The Organization of African Unity (OAU) and its successor organization, the African Union (AU), have both exalted the principle of territorial sovereignty in the African subcontinent through the principles of non-interference anduti possidetis juris thus ensuring that colonial boundaries would remain permanent.  These principles have prevented the outbreak of wars of secession in a continent where ethnic and tribal groupings and affiations spill across the boundaries of most countries in the region. The Sudanese case should be treated as sui generis and it is not a compelling one either.  There are continuing conflicts between Khartoum and Juba over revenue-sharing of oil fields in oil-rich South Sudan and the designation of the actual border between the two countries. Karthoum also continues to wage battle with rebels in the western Darfur region who are emboldened by the precedent set by South Sudan’s independence.  In short, its still a huge mess.

Before you click away, we’d like to ask you for a favour … 


Journalism in Canada has suffered a devastating decline over the last two decades. Dozens of newspapers and outlets have shuttered. Remaining newsrooms are smaller. Nowhere is this erosion more acute than in the coverage of foreign policy and international news. It’s expensive, and Canadians, oceans away from most international upheavals, pay the outside world comparatively little attention.

At Open Canada, we believe this must change. If anything, the pandemic has taught us we can’t afford to ignore the changing world. What’s more, we believe, most Canadians don’t want to. Many of us, after all, come from somewhere else and have connections that reach around the world.

Our mission is to build a conversation that involves everyone — not just politicians, academics and policy makers. We need your help to do so. Your support helps us find stories and pay writers to tell them. It helps us grow that conversation. It helps us encourage more Canadians to play an active role in shaping our country’s place in the world.

Become a Supporter