Jones: 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: Bruce Jones
Director and Senior Fellow of the NYU Center on International Cooperation

No. Creating new states out of existing ones is exceedingly hard, and the creation of South Sudan happened only after 30 years of war and more than 2 million dead. Since the end of the Cold War, only one other African case has been resolved this way, namely the separation of Eritrea from Ethiopia – and that was followed by a bloody war that killed more than 300,000 people. Earlier episodes of potential secession include Biafra, which sought independence from Nigeria – triggering a civil war that killed roughly 1,000,000 people. The international community hates succession as a model: to get a sense of how much so, just look at Somaliland, which has been a de facto separate entity – and a relatively stable one – within Somalia for over a decade; to date, no government has recognized Somaliland as a separate entity, and there’s no evidence that South Sudan will create a new move in that direction.

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