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

By: /
July 19, 2011

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.