In a speech on 13 March, Nicola Sturgeon outlined her intention to call a second Scottish independence referendum. Paul Anderson, Canterbury Christ Church University, writes that while the announcement was not surprising given recent speculation, it was nevertheless a bold move on the part of Sturgeon. Only time will tell, however, whether she will be remembered as the First Minister who presided over the independence of Scotland or the leader who got it spectacularly wrong. Note: This article first appeared on the LSE EUROPP blog and is reposted here with permission.
Nicola Sturgeon’s announcement that she is to seek a second independence referendum to be held between autumn 2018 and spring 2019 is a bold but unsurprising move from the Scottish First Minister. She has spelled out that first she will seek the approval of the Scottish Parliament which, with a majority of pro-independence MSPs (the SNP and Greens), should prove no obstacle.
Following the regional elections in Catalonia on 27 September 2015 which saw victory for pro-independence parties, Maria Mut Bosque, Lecturer in International Law and EU Law at the Universitat Internacional de Catalunya, examines the legal possibilities open to Catalonia as it considers its future with the European Union. The issue of secession in EU member states was discussed in the run-up to the Scottish independence referendum a year ago, but many questions still remain unanswered.
From the perspective of international law, a territory must fulfil the following requirements in order to be considered a state: defined territory, a permanent population, government institutions and sovereignty. There is no mention of how sovereignty is acquired and this often varies in practice on a case-by-case basis: some states attain sovereignty through armed conflicts, whereas others have done so through peaceful negotiations. International recognition is a declarative, rather than a constitutive aspect; in other words, international recognition is not a legal requirement for the constitution of a state. The fact that it is not a legal requirement, however, makes it no less important, as international recognition is crucial to establish relations with other subjects of international law, such as states or international organisations. For a new state, failure to attain international recognition from the entire international community would imply maintaining only relations with those states and organisations that recognise it. Failure to obtain recognition from any other states or international organisations would result in isolation and marginalisation. Continue reading