n Institute for Security Studies Papers - International law and the self-determination of South Sudan

Volume 2012, Issue 231
  • ISSN : 1026-0404



One of the cornerstones of African regional law and politics has been the principle of , by virtue of which African states decided in the 1964 Cairo Declaration that colonially drawn African borders were sacrosanct and non-negotiable. To negotiate the tension between this principle and the internationally recognised right of all peoples to self-determination, the preferred approach of African states and the now defunct Organisation for African Unity has been to give precedence to the former over the latter. The purpose of this paper is to address the fundamental questions that South Sudan's quest for independence has raised about discourse on and the practice of self-determination vis-à-vis the principle of under general international law and, significantly, African regional law. Drawing on emerging legal developments redefining the relationship between and self-determination, the paper shows how the case of South Sudan illustrates the emergence of a new human security-based approach for negotiating the tension between these principles and the opportunity this presents for a principled response to other claims for self-determination on the continent.

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