Is There a Right to Secession?

A right to secede would entail that secession has a protected status. That is, if there is a right to secede, then it is permissible to secede even if secession is unjustified—in the same way that the right to free speech protects speech that is false, harmful, or otherwise unjustified. It is commonly believed that secession is justified when a part of the state is suffering a serious form of abuse. I argue that this common belief is correct. But secession cannot be justified merely because a part of the state wants to secede. In the absence of serious abuses justifying secession, secessionist movements must persuade us that there is a right to secede and that their cause is within its scope. I argue that there is no persuasive case for a moral right to secede, and that it is therefore a good thing that international law and most constitutions do not include one