This article analyses the factors conducive to recognising independence referendums and to winning these votes. After a tour d’horizon of the history of referendums on independence and a summary of the legal position, this article argues that independence referendums are most likely to be implemented when this is in the interest of the three Western powers on the UN Security Council. While there is a statistically significant correlation between the support for independence (the yes-vote) and international recognition, this is much lower than the 100% association between support of the three permanent Western powers on the Security Council and international recognition. Countries may cite legal, democratic and philosophical principles, but the statistical and historical facts suggest that these are of secondary importance when it comes to recognising states after independence referendums.
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- international law
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sociology and Political Science
- Political Science and International Relations