Barotseland: Passing the Statehood Test

25 November 2014
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INTRODUCTION:

The purpose of this article is both to evaluate from an international legal and a political perspective of Barotseland 's assertion of statehood and to consider the prospects for a new literal state in southern Africa as a 55th African State.

Barotseland is a country in the Southern Africa encompassing an area of Total 368,823 km2 or 142,403 sq mi with the Population estimated at 5,153,405 in 2012. Legally, Barotseland ceased to be part of Zambia when the union treaty Barotseland Agreement 1964 was repudiated by Zambia in 1969. On 27th March 2012, Barotseland accepted the repudiation of BA64 and ultimately extracted itself from a degenerate Zambia by declaring statehood and has been so far recognized by the international organizations, such as FFSA (Federation of Free States of Africa) and UNPO. Being a member to UNPO ( Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization ) , means Barotseland can attend United Nations deliberations as observer nation and the other important point is that the ground for recognition by UN member countries has been leveled. Barotseland's independence declaration has so far not being refuted by a single member of international community and since 27th March
, 2012, Barotseland State exists in what I may refer to as a " diplomatic no- man's land."

ARGUMENTS FOR /AGAINST BAROTSELAND STATEHOOD

a) CRITERIA FOR STATEHOOD

Under the generally regarded international Law definition of State, an entity seeking statehood must be prepared to demonstrate that it possesses:

1. a permanent population
2. a defined territory
3. government; and
4. the capacity to enter into international relations with other states.

The requirements of a permanent population and defined territory provide the physical bases for the existence of the state, while the government and international relations requirements evidence the legal order necessary for the state to function within international community. Seemingly, a straight forward factional inquiry, these relatively subjective criteria of statehood can be somewhat problematical to apply. For instance, how many people constitute a population? What is meant by a defined territory? Even though Israel 's boundaries have yet to be decisively delineated, Israel unquestionably exists as a state. Likewise, to what extent ( both territorial and political) must be requisite government be able to govern? Croatia was accepted as a state even through at the time of its acceptance large parts of its territory were controlled by non- governmental forces. As to the criterion of the capacity to enter into international relations, debate have ensured over whether this criterion requires not just the capacity, but the corresponding ability to conduct international relations.

International legal scholars such as Ian Brownlie maintain that the international relations criterion is best understood as a proxy for the criterion of independence. By independence Brownlie is referring to that fact that non other sovereign exists. Thus, the actual ability to carry out an effective international relations regime is secondary to the absence of a competing sovereign with the right to maintain international relations on behalf of the prospective state.

b) RECOGNITION BY OTHER STATES IN THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY ---HAS BEEN A KEY FACTOR IN ATTRIBUTING STATEHOOD.

In addition to the inherent subjectivity issues, other political factors have influenced the statehood test. Although article 16 of the Montevideo convention declares that " the political existence of the state is independent of recognition by other states" , recognition by other states in international community - the " largesse of the doctrine of recognition"- has been a key factor in attributing statehood. Taiwan as one example arguably meets the statehood criteria under the Montevideo convention, but, because of the political situation with China, most states have been unwilling to recognize it as such. Thus, without recognition by the rest of the international community, most usually demonstrated by acceptance into the United Nations as a member state, prospective state will find it difficult to achieve the status of statehood.

CONCLUSION

Barotseland as a prospective state, should not exercise self- determination through universal suffrage usually impacts the recognition process and may, for practical purposes, be considered an additional political factor in the statehood calculus. Moreover, Barotseland bears all the trappings, so to speak, of a statehood which it lacked for centuries such as national flag, coat of arms and national anthem. In addition, the Royal Barotseland civil government that was inaugurated a year ago proposed a national currency (MUPU), stamps, passports, national registration card ( NRC ) and many more. From a purely international legal standpoint, Barotseland could, indeed pass the statehood test. It is acknowledged that Zambia ceded Barotseland territory from being part of Zambia by the unilateral termination of Barotseland Agreement 1964 union treaty. Yet to date, the continental body African Union has never given seriousness attention to Barotseland impasse, it is this political factor - " the largesse of the doctrine of recognition" - that holds Barotseland 's total independence. What, then, is Barotseland's prospects for eventual recognition? In short, Barotseland is at the crossroads of the legal and philosophical struggles between territorial integrity : Self - determination and unresolved issues regarding what to do with Zambia if diplomatic approach fails.

Tukongote Litunga Ni lyetu.

By Saleya Kwalombota


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