South Sudan and the International Legal Framework Governing the Emergence and Delimitation of New States

By Vidmar, Jure | Texas International Law Journal, Summer 2012 | Go to article overview

South Sudan and the International Legal Framework Governing the Emergence and Delimitation of New States


Vidmar, Jure, Texas International Law Journal


Abstract

This Article identifies and analyzes the legal framework relevant for South Sudan's emergence as a state and its international delimitation. It demonstrates that independence stemmed from the domestic constitutional arrangement. Referring to the practice of confining new international borders, the Article also argues that, contrary to Sudan's argument, the 1956 colonial boundary does not apply automatically. Of central importance is the latest internal boundary. This arrangement foresees an exception to the 1956 line but has not been determined in accordance with applicable law.

SUMMARY

INTRODUCTION ............................................................................................................... 542

I. THE EMERGENCE OF A NEW STATE: THE LEGAL FRAMEWORK .................. 543

A. The Emergence of States in International Law: Between Territorial Integrity and the Will of the People ............................................................ 543

1. No Entitlement to Independence ....................................................... 543

B. Neutrality of International Law and Relevance of a Domestic Consensus ..................................................................................................... 545

C. The Relevance of Independence Referenda .............................................. 547

D. The Relevance and Irrelevance of Recognition ......................................... 548

E. International Legal Doctrine on Claims for Independence Summarized ................................................................................................. 550

II. THE COMPREHENSIVE PEACE AGREEMENT AND APPLICABLE DOMESTIC LAW ................................................................................................... 551

A. The Legal Regime ofthe Comprehensive Peace Agreement Regarding Secession ....................................................................................................... 551

B. The Independence Referendum .................................................................. 552

III. INTERNATIONAL DELIMITATION BETWEEN SUDAN AND SOUTH SUDAN AND THE QUESTION OF THE ABYEI AREA ....................................................... 554

A. The 1956 Boundary and the Abyei Area ................................................... 554

1. Reestablishment of the 1956 Boundary ............................................. 554

2. International Arbitration on the Abyei Area ................................... 555

B. The International Legal Significance ofthe 1956 Boundary Arrangement ................................................................................................ 556

1. Practice and Doctrine of Determining New International Borders .................................................................................................. 556

2. The 1956 Boundary and Legal Grounds for the Abyei Area Exception ............................................................................................... 558

CONCLUSION ................................................................................................................... 559

INTRODUCTION

South Sudan declared independence on July 9, 2011. ' International recognition followed promptly2 and on July 14, 2011, South Sudan became a member of the United Nations.3 Unlike in the recent example of Kosovo, South Sudan's acquisition of statehood is a generally accepted legal fact and its legal status not subject to controversy.4

Controversy, however, arises in relation to the new international delimitation. The agreed border between Sudan and South Sudan, in principle, follows the former colonial boundary in existence on January 1, 1956 (the date of Sudan's independence).5 The full reestablishment of this boundary is disputed because of the unclear legal status of the Abyei Area. …

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