Secessionist Strategy and Tactical Variation in the Pursuit of Independence

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15 Scopus citations


How do secessionist movements formulate strategy and choose tactics? Secessionism takes place on a strategic playing field that shapes tactical behavior, driving some movements to choose armed rebellion while others prefer nonviolent civil resistance or electoral competition. Secessionist movements attempt to compel and make normative appeals in different combinations depending on local conditions such as regime type, the strength of the state, and the degree to which the region is already de facto independent. These efforts are aimed at not only the home state, but also the international community that can apply pressure on the home state to negotiate with the secessionists. I identify six kinds of movements - democratized, indigenous legal, combative/strong state, combative/weak state, decolonial, and de facto - and I outline the perils and possibilities inherent in each kind. I then construct a theoretical framework and test the implications using original data on secessionist tactics between 1946 and 2011.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberogz082
JournalJournal of Global Security Studies
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2021


  • civil resistance
  • civil war
  • recognition
  • secession
  • strategy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Political Science and International Relations
  • Safety Research


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