Jones: Does last week's creation of a Southern Sudanese state point to secession as the solution to other African conflicts?

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July 19, 2011

No. Creating new states out of existing ones is exceedingly hard, and the creation of South Sudan happened only after 30 years of war and more than 2 million dead. Since the end of the Cold War, only one other African case has been resolved this way, namely the separation of Eritrea from Ethiopia - and that was followed by a bloody war that killed more than 300,000 people. Earlier episodes of potential secession include Biafra, which sought independence from Nigeria - triggering a civil war that killed roughly 1,000,000 people. The international community hates succession as a model: to get a sense of how much so, just look at Somaliland, which has been a de facto separate entity - and a relatively stable one - within Somalia for over a decade; to date, no government has recognized Somaliland as a separate entity, and there's no evidence that South Sudan will create a new move in that direction.