How to Become a Country in 3 Easy Steps
Sudan's president Omar Hassan al-Bashir has announced that, after two civil wars, the southern region of Sudan will separate from the north on July 9. What must the new Republic of South Sudan do to establish itself as a country, and how will it become the United Nations' 193rd member state?
In three easy steps, here's how to become an independent country:
Step 1 Declare independence
To establish a new country, the country must first satisfy the international laws rules that all free countries generally acknowledge and follow set forth by the Montevideo Convention on the Rights and Duties of States, adopted in 1933.
The Montevideo Convention requires that a country must declare its intentions, which Southern Sudan did when a January referendum let the world know that people in the region plan to secede from its northern counterpart this summer. New countries are also required to exist within a clearly defined territory, and South Sudan's ongoing dispute with Northern Sudan over the two nations' official boundaries could hamper that process.
Another requirement that the country have a permanent population necessitates that Southern Sudan negotiate the issues of citizenship and residency, as millions of southerners work in the north and vice versa.
South Sudan has already met the requirement that the new country must have a government , with Sudan's current vice president Salva Kiir Mayardit already elected to serve as South Sudan's first president. The requirement that the country must be able to enter into relations with other sovereign states also appears to be met, as the U.S. has already set up a diplomatic mission in Sudan's southern capital, Juba.
Step 2 Gain recognition
In order to be legitimate, a new country must be recognized by existing states within the international community. Each existing state bestows recognition at its own discretion, and several entities (including Taiwan, Palestine and Kosovo) are recognized as legitimate states by some countries, but not by others. In the U.S., the decision to grant a country recognition is made by the president, and President Barack Obama declared on Feb. 2 that the U.S. will recognize southern Sudan as a new, independent country in July. Experts are optimistic that other countries will recognize the Republic of South Sudan.
"Sudan is almost certain to be guaranteed recognition," Alexander J. Motyl, a political science professor at Rutgers University-Newark and the author of "Imperial Ends: The Decline, Collapse, and Revival of Empires" (Columbia University Press, 2001), told Life's Little Mysteries. "The referendum was recognized by the international community and the U.S. in particular, and it's generally recognized as having been the victim of genocide. Hence: their grievance and the legal procedure are both considered legitimate."
Step 3 Join the United Nations
The United Nations asserts that, because it itself is not a country, it does not possess any authority to recognize a state or government . But being admitted into the U.N. goes a long way toward a new country becoming recognized by the international community.
In order to apply for U.N. membership, the aspiring country first needs to send an application letter, along with a declaration that it will follow the United Nations charter, to U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. The application is then passed along to the Security Council, where it must get the affirmative votes of at least nine of the 15-member Council. If any of the council's five permanent members (China, France, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the U.S.) vote against the country, the application does not go forward.
If approved, the Council's recommendation for admission is then presented to the General Assembly for consideration, which consists of the current 192 U.N. member states. A two-thirds majority vote is needed for the new country to gain admission into the U.N., and if approved, its membership becomes effective on the date the resolution for admission is adopted.
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