via American Freedom Party
Dana Rohrabacher, Chairman of the Subcommittee, opened the debate
with a rather practical approach to the issue an inviting everyone to
debate it with an open mind “Over time, it is natural for populations of
people to move and change, just as the characteristics of governments
change. We should, and must, expect this. Yet, U.S. foreign policy
thinking too often acts as if the borders of a nation-state are set in
stone. As circumstances change, the United States must be open to the
possibility that peacefully changing borders makes sense and promotes
stability. Around the world today, the existing borders have been set by
empires and flukes of history just as much as by the will of the
people. If self-determination movements seek to change their political
situation, we should consider the possibility that addressing those
grievances will improve, not harm, peace and stability.”
author of several books on self-determination and with whom we have
already had the pleasure to cooperate on several occasions, including
conferences in Brussels and Barcelona organised jointly with Fundació
Josep Irla, delivered a witness testimony.
He advocates for the constitutionalisation of the right to
self-determination and the establishment of clear rules for independence
referendums. He claims, “A legal path to independence can promote peace
by constraining secessionists and central governments to pursue their
aims through electoral and legislative means.”
On the question of whether the US should recognise newly independent
states, he believes: “The U.S. government might wish to consider not
only the interests of the host state, but also the interests of the
seceding state and the effect of secession on regional stability. On
average, replacing a state-to-nation relationship with a state-to-state
relationship reduces violence.”
You can read his full testimony here.
Jason Sorens (SUNY) on the constitutionalisation of the right to self-determination from Centre Maurits Coppieters on Vimeo.
Professor Paul Williams also delivered a testimonial speech. He
referred to the specific case of Scotland and Catalonia and its
relationship with the EU. He argued that “Without a coherent and
cohesive approach to these movements, the EU has placed itself in an
impossible and precarious position. If the EU were to consider
recognizing Catalonia, this action could encourage further referenda in
Belgium, Cyprus, Slovakia, Romania, and possibly Italy, which are all
grappling with their own self-determination movements, raising
opposition from these members.
However, if the EU denies recognition to Catalonia, this may generate
a frozen economic conflict in the core of Europe that would drain
political capital and economic resources from an economically fragile
Spain. This frozen economic conflict will also create a “state,” with
the Euro as its currency and seven million Catalonians that could retain
their EU citizenship while living outside the EU. Furthermore,in many
European states, non-recognition would be perceived as anti-democratic.
Such a move would be extremely difficult to justify, given that nearly
three-dozen states have achieved recognition by EU member states in the
past twenty-five years.”
You can read his full testimony here.
Finally, Ivan Vejvoda, from the German Marshall Fund of the United
States, worries about the uncertainty linked to self-determination
processes in Europe, questioning “If it does secede […] will the EU
accept it as a new member and under what rules of the road. Many open
questions.” You can read his full testimony here.
To conclude the debate, the Subcommittee Chairman showed an open view
towards the creation of new states and acknowledged the need to tackle
the debate, not to postpone it.