The recent uprising in Tibet and the granting of independence to Kosovo coupled with the refusal to recognise the rights of Bosnian-Serbs has opened up a large debate for the 21st century. Do ethnic groups have the right to independence? Can we split up states or provinces to recognise ethnic divisions?
Modern rules on independence generally leans against such movements. Most have come about as a way of ending war. Montenegro is a rare example of a peaceful seperation. The rules on granting independence tend to revolve factors such as economics, politics, history and the viabiliy of the state.
Yet the most important part is the politics. Montenegro and Kosovo were parts of Serbia (formerly Yugoslavia). Serbia is not a major force these days and is not loved by the international community. Therefore certain nations feel it is fine to grant independence to rebellious provinces. Yet, they do not agree to such calls for independence in Georgia, Moldova, Armenia and so on because those new states would be broadly pro-Russian.
Rules on independence are based solely on politics not morality.
The challenge to the 21st century is to move away from artificial states and against politics determining such secessions. We should encourage states to federalise or turn into unions to maintain unity and peace. If this is not possible we should recognise the rights of ethnic unified regions to determine their own fates. There should be clear UN backed rules and rights for such regions, groups and proto-nations. This would stop chaos.
Sadly this is likely to prove impossible. We will continue to put influence and economics ahead of the rights of people. We will not back the Tibetans in their rightful claim to independence, we will not back Taiwan, Bessarabia, the Kosovan Serbs, Chechnya and so on. It is very ironic as the Tibetans are ethnically different to the chinese with a long history of independence. In fact they have more right to claim indpendence than America’s founding fathers.