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Moral Justifications Of Secession For Southern Sudan

Political, economical, and social marginalization resulted in decades of civil wars in Sudan. Given these historical grievances, the misrule and political, economical, and social exclusion of the vast majority of the African-Sudanese by minority successive regimes in Khartoum under coercive unity. The only preferable and viable solution by many Southerners is self-determination granted in the CPA through Referendum exercise on January 9, 2011.

The Anyanya 1 Movement (1955-1972) called for an independent Southern Sudan, whereas SPLM/A Movement (1983-2005) called for an inclusive united Sudan, but on a new basis.

Regardless of what they say, the secession or separation of the South Sudan was and is always imposed on us (Southerners) by our Northern brothers. South Sudanese have always been calling for equal application of law, protection of minority groups, respect of human rights, peaceful coexistence of all races in Sudan, and preservation of common Sudanese heritage, tradition, culture, and languages, etc.

The ruling governments in Khartoum have been violating the very basic human rights across the country and this caused long suffering of the people they claimed to have represented.
In the two wars (1955-1972) and (1983 to 2005), the total number of deaths have been always estimated at between 3 million and 4 million. This is always an estimation by the international human rights’ groups who have been actively involved in humanitarian crises in war affected areas throughout the region. There is no widely used methods of determining the total deaths and this led many, especially South Sudanese to question such figures as underestimated.

The prior occupation and annexation of territories of South Sudan by Sudanese Armed Forces, massive human rights violations and discriminatory injustice are seen as severe injustices that can morally justify secession. It must be proven that full independence is the only viable alternative and that the secessionist movement is acting in accordance with democratic criteria, represents the majority of the population of the seceding territory, protects minority rights and is acting in accordance with the will of the population, clearly expressed (for example through a majority vote in a referendum).

Not only the correction but also the prevention of severe injustices may, under certain conditions, constitute a just cause for secession. There is nothing moral in demanding that a region within a nation be exterminated, or even that it should endure a serious risk of the extermination of a significant part of its population, before granting it a moral right to secede. No authority has the moral right to require a people to live under unjust rule.

Secession can be seen as a form of territorial withdrawal by a people from the authority of the central government with the aim of achieving political independence.

The 1960 UN Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples and the Friendly Relations Declaration of 1970 reinstated the importance of self-determination as a desideratum, if not a legal right. According to Buchheit (1978) Secession: The Legitimacy of Self-Determination, Buchheit concluded that “The evolution of an international legal recognition of secessionist self-determination, although cautious and uniformly conservative, is nevertheless perceptible.”

Buchheit categorized into two structures for secessionists with normative-based models that could justify secession in the contemporary world: One is remedial secession- “a scheme by which, corresponding to the various degrees of oppression inflicted upon a particular group by its governing State, international law recognizes a continuum of remedies ranging from protection of individual rights, to minority rights, and ending with secession as the ultimate remedy.”

Two is parochialist secession, which contends that “the only really inescapable requirement for a legitimate claim to self-determination is the existence of a genuine ‘self’ wanting to control its own political destiny.” The merits of the later claim rested on the two issues: 1) the extent to which a group is in fact a self capable of independent existence, and 2) the likelihood that a greater degree of harmony, or less disruption, would follow if an existing union was dismantled to accommodate secession.

In both cases, South Sudan is qualified to secede from the old Sudan given centuries of oppression and political and economical capacities in the South at this moment.

Joseph Lagu, the former leader of the Anyanya 1 made it clear on July 31, 2010 during the martyrs day in Juba that if you separate army, separate constitution, and other institutions, then what do you want to become an independent country? He concluded that South Sudan has all it takes to become sovereign country and therefore deserves independence.

In the work of Allen Buchanan (1991) Secession: The Morality of Political Divorce from Fort Sumter to Lithuania and Quebec, Allen concluded that the moral case for secession would seemingly be stronger and more worthy of international support the more at risk a minority is; the more serious its grievances are; and the more realistic, flexible, and accommodating its demands have been over time. Allen is right in all he said, especially when a minority group is at risk, but guess what, in Sudanese case, the vast majority who are not stakeholders or marginalized people are the majority dominated by small group in the centre of the country and this alone gains the international support for South Sudan to secede from the old and forms its political entity.

Allen Buchanan posed this question of what does the moral right to secede to entails? For Buchanan, “to say that there is a moral right to secede is to say at least two things: (1) that it is morally permissible, for those who have this right to secede, and (2) that (other nations?) are morally obligated not to interfere with their seceding. Allen argued that moral grounds for opposing rulers include not merely violations of individuals rights, but also situations where a group is a victim of systemic discrimination. South Sudan has been a victim of systemic discrimination based on skin colour, religion, and enslavement for decades if not centuries.

The Arab minority group always wanted to Islamize and Arabize other African-Sudanese indigenous groups so that everybody become Arab and Muslim in Sudan. This of course caused the civil wars in Sudan and the only solution is for none-Arab origins to form their distinct social entity apart from that of Arabism and Islamism.

Buchanan identified twelve pro-secession arguments based on moral claims:

1) Liberty: just as it is impermissible to interfere with a person’s liberty as long as that person’s choice does no harm to others, so it may be immoral to interfere with a group’s exercise of liberty where no one is harmed.

2) Promotion of diversity: Here, a circuitous logic is at work to justify separation. Buchanan argued that the best guarantor of cultural diversity is creation of independent political units that then freely interact with each other.

3) To safeguard liberalism: it is in the interest of a liberal state to permit illiberal groups to secede. Tolerance for various communal lifestyles may, on occasion, backfire on a liberal state, as when a militant religious sect takes up arms. For its own protection, the state should grant illiberal groups the rights to secede.

4) When the original goals for setting up a political union have become obsolete or irrelevant: Considerations that previously necessitated a common association of various groups no longer hold, and contracting parties are free from the time-specific and delimited obligations imposed on them.

5) When the right of secession is included in a constitution to attract new members, and at some later date, a member reconsiders its entry decision and decides to avail itself of the constitutional provision for exit: Thus, a country that joins the European Union but becomes disenchanted with its political evolution would have the moral and legal justification for leaving it.

6) Secession is widely used by breakaway ethno-nationalist groups today who claim that they wish to escape discriminatory redistribution at the hand of existing state. When national government favours certain groups over the others, when it exploits certain groups, when inequalities for differential is a norm or exist among ethnic groups, and when inequalities constitutes injustices.

7) Marries efficiency consideration to morality: Applying the principle of Pareto optimality, as long as one party would be better off and everyone else is no worse off if secession occurred, then such a course of action is justified. This logic is often embedded in peaceful breakups of political unions, for example, Norway from Sweden in 1905.

8) The normative principle of nationalism consisting in the notion that every group is entitled to have its own state is a further reason given to justify secession.

9) The nine possible case for secession directs attention to the preservation of a culture: A separatism can best enhance the flourishing a culture of and thereby contribute to the lives of the people who celebrate that culture. Important ethno-nationalist groups in the West-Basques people in Spain, Flemish in Belgium, and Quebec people in Canada-often cite cultural factors as the main reason for wishing to have political sovereignty.

With respect to Flemish and Quebec claims for secession, both did not success in achieving their separate states from the rest of Canada and Belgium since they are equal stakeholders in political, economical, and social arena in both countries. Their languages and religious heritages are given equal status, Flemish and Quebec nationals can run and be elected into the office of president or prime minister. The Quebec people of Canada had no solid grounds for separate country because they have everything as the rests of Canada.

However, Quebec, Basques, and Flemish peoples would argue that the cultural-preservation principle in order to seek separation would be justification based on five conditions:

(1) the culture is really in peril, (2) less disruptive ways of preserving the culture do not exist, (3) the imperiled culture meets minimal standards of justice itself (that is, it does not represent a Khmer Rouge-type culture bent on genocide), (4) secession should not lead to the building of an illiberal state, and (5) neither the extant state nor any third party has a historic claim to the seceding territory. Positing these as prerequisite conditions that justify separation on the grounds of cultural preservation severely limits the universe of morally sound ethno-secessionist claims (Buchanan, 1991). No South Sudanese had ever been elected into office of president, and South Sudanese are not equal stakeholders in governance. South Sudanese are marginalized politically, economically, and socially, leave alone preservation of African-Sudanese cultures and languages compare to Arab cultures and Islam being given the highest value over other indigenous Sudanese cultures and languages. These grievances justify and qualify South Sudan to secede from the old Sudan of exclusivity and forms its own viable state.

10) Rather than self-preservation, self-defense can be given as a ten reason to justify a separate state. Fear of extermination from either existing state or a third party from whom the extant state cannot offer viable protection would be variants of the self-defense justification. Thus, in the first case, whatever legitimate claims the state has to the seceding territory becomes outweighed by the claims of victims of genocidal policy. In second case, Buchanan speculated about the moral grounds Jewish groups had to create a separate Jewish state in central European countries occupied by Germans who were perpetrating the Holocust. More recently, Palestinian Arabs who feel that neither Israel nor Jordan safeguard their interests are driven to build their own state.

11) An eleven reason, as persuasive as the case of discriminatory injustices, concerns rectification of past injustices. As Buchanan emphasized, “The argument’s power stems from the assumption that secession is simply the re-appropriation, by the legitimate owners, of stolen property.” The argument for rectification justice subsumes the historical grievance claim: “The valid claim to territory that every sound justification for secession includes must be grounded in a historical grievance concerning the violation of a preexisting right to territory.” The best known instances of historical grievance claims originated in the secret protocol of the August 1939 Ribbentrop-Moloto pact that led to the incorporation of the Baltic states and northern Romania into the Soviet Union. Especially, as in this case, where groups can claim unjust loss of their territory, the right to secession is legitimate.

12) Finally, adopting the liberal basis for legitimate authority and political obligation-consent, we can list a twelve reasons why secession can be justified: the disappearance of fair play in the liberal system. When fairness vanishes, consent can be withdrawn and political obligations can cease. This logic is often used as an ancillary reason in favour of secession by ethno-nationalist movement claiming discrimination.

In conclusion, given these wide range of moral arguments that can be advanced to justify ethno-secession and evaluated the emerging global regime of managed ethnic heterogeneity, South Sudan has moral argument for secession. Most, if not all moral arguments presented above for secession appear to be highly persuasive and deserving of international support for South Sudan to secede and also to recognize its legitimacy when it chooses its destiny comes January 9, 2011.

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