This is something that has bugged me for a while. I heard someone ask one time if the American Revolution was “illegal.” Now I see it coming up with places like Kosovo and Crimea… they secede from their parent country and then various international powers argue over whether it is “legal.”
Before I present my argument, I’ll specify my premises:
Every state has a law against rebellion, seccession, insurrection, etc etc.
A state’s laws only apply to the people who within the state’s jurisdiction and control. That is, a government cannot pass a law against a foreign sovereign state and cannot enforce a law in an area it does not control.
The definition of a government is the ability to enforce its will by holding a monopoly on violence in a given area.
My argument is:
It is inherently contradictory for a state to claim that revolt or secession is illegal; A revolt against the government, by definition, asserts that the revolutionary body no longer accepts the government’s authority and no longer considers itself bound by the government’s laws. Since the government cannot exert legal jurisdiction over a person/place/whatever that exists outside its control (premises 2 and 3) any claims that a revolution is “illegal” may be technically true but are also completely irrelevant.
So: How can a government claim revolution is illegal, when revolt is, by definition, a rejection of that same system?