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Unilateral declaration of independence

This article is about unilateral declarations of independence in general. For the Rhodesian declaration of 1965, see Rhodesia's Unilateral Declaration of Independence.

A unilateral declaration of independence (UDI) is a formal process leading to the establishment of a new state by a subnational entity which declares itself independent and sovereign without a formal agreement with the national state from which it is seceding. The term was first used when Rhodesia declared independence in 1965 from the United Kingdom (UK) without an agreement with the UK.[1]


Prominent examples of a unilateral declaration of independence other than Rhodesia's UDI in 1965 include that of the United States in 1776,[2] the Irish Declaration of Independence of 1919 by a revolutionary parliament, the attempted secession of Biafra from Nigeria in 1967, the Bangladeshi declaration of independence from Pakistan in 1970, the (internationally unrecognized) secession of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus from Cyprus in 1983, the Palestinian Declaration of Independence from the Palestinian territories in 1988, and that of the Republic of Kosovo in 2008.[3]

During the breakup of Yugoslavia, the government of the United States asked the governments of Slovenia and Croatia to drop their UDI plans because of the threat of major war erupting in the Balkans because of it, and threatened that it would oppose both countries' UDIs on the basis of the Helsinki Final Act if they did so. However, four days later both Slovenia and Croatia announced their UDIs from Yugoslavia.[4]

Date Declared state Parent Notes
1776 23x15px United States 23x15px Great Britain
1898 23x15px Philippines 23x15px Spain
1912 23x15px Albania 23x15px Ottoman Empire
1919 23x15px Irish Republic 23x15px United Kingdom
1965 23x15px Rhodesia 23x15px United Kingdom
1967 23x15px Biafra 23x15px Nigeria
1971 23x15px Bangladesh 23x15px Pakistan
1983 23x15px Northern Cyprus 23x15px Cyprus Still claimed by Cyprus
1991 23x15px Croatia 23x15px Yugoslavia
1991 23x15px Slovenia 23x15px Yugoslavia
1999 23x15px Abkhazia 23x15px Georgia Still claimed by Georgia
2008 23x15px Kosovo 23x15px Serbia Still claimed by Serbia
2014 Template:Country data Republic of Crimea (country) 23x15px Ukraine Annexed by Russia; still claimed by Ukraine

Legal aspects

The International Court of Justice, in a 2010 advisory opinion, declared that unilateral declarations of independence were not illegal under international law.[5]

See also


  1. ^ Douglas George Anglin. Zambian Crisis Behaviour: Confronting Rhodesia's Unilateral Declaration of Independence, 1965-1966. McGill-Queens, 1994.
  2. ^ Don H. Doyle. Secession as an International Phenomenon: From America's Civil War to Contemporary Separatist Movements. University of Georgia Press, 2010.
  3. ^ United Nations. Index to Proceedings of the General Assembly 2008/2009: Subject Index. New York, New York, USA: United Nations, 2010. Pp. 138.
  4. ^ Florian Bieber, Džemal Sokolović. Reconstructing multiethnic societies: the case of Bosnia-Herzegovina. Ashgate, 2001. Pp. 41.
  5. ^ "Accordance with International Law of the Unilateral Declaration of Independence in Respect of Kosovo" (PDF). Retrieved 2014-02-14.