Unilateral declaration of independence

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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  United States Great Britain
1898 Philippines  Spain
1912 Albania  Ottoman Empire
1919 Irish Republic  United Kingdom
1922  Egypt  United Kingdom Unilateral grant of independence by the British government
1965  Rhodesia  United Kingdom Independence granted as Zimbabwe in 1980
1967  Biafra  Nigeria Present day Nigeria
1971 Bangladesh  Pakistan
1983 Northern Cyprus Cyprus Still claimed by Cyprus
1988  Palestine Claims territories occupied by Israel since 1967
Israeli–Palestinian conflict and peace process still ongoing
See International recognition of the State of Palestine
1991  Croatia  Yugoslavia
1991  Slovenia  Yugoslavia
1991 Chechen Republic of Ichkeria Republic of Ichkeria  Russia Present day Chechen Republic, part of Russia
1991  South Ossetia Georgia Still claimed by Georgia
1999  Abkhazia Georgia Still claimed by Georgia
2008  Kosovo  Serbia Still claimed by Serbia
2014  Crimea  Ukraine Annexed by Russia; still claimed by Ukraine

Legal aspects[edit]

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[edit]


  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). Icj-cij.org. Retrieved 2014-02-14.