How do you form an independent country?

The media pours with grief of the death of one, Akena a community development worker who was allegedly shot by another, Kanyamunyu.

Akena hails from the Acholi Sub-region of northern Uganda and Kanyamunyu is from the Western part of the Country. It is understandable that a number of people in Uganda are tired of Museveni’s government which is accused of many wrongs, nepotism inclusive. As such, it is believed that the privileged, rich and well to-do people in Uganda are from Western Uganda, Museveni’s hood. Some people have been bold enough to suggest that Kanyamunyu shot Akena because he, Kanyamunyu, is from western Uganda.

In anger, in frustration, and in grief over the death of Akena, one lady, on social media, suggested that Northern Uganda should secede from Uganda, given that everyone else in Uganda, except those from the North, seems to be privileged.

I understand what grief can do to people. I am not a Ugandan, and I feel the pain Akena’s kin must be going through. I have a friend from Western Uganda, and when I talked to her about this, she was equally aggrieved; I had to confirm that she did not have any relations to any people from Northern Uganda. And that is what I love about Ugandans. They are so closely-knitted. Not so closely-knitted like a family but way better than we, Kenyans are.

That call to secede freaked me out. It would be sad to let tribalism start eating at the Ugandan society. Tribalism is bad. Believe me. I see what it does to my country and I pity me.

The of course, there are the recent gruesome circumstances in Kasese. There are tribal clashes and some reports, though they have been disputed by many, say that the people of Rwenzururu want to secede.

Then it all got me thinking about how Countries secede. There was a time when Bangladesh wanted to secede from Kenya. (Yes, there is a Bangladesh in the Coastal Region of Kenya, not the Bangladesh in South Asia). I have also heard of California wanting to secede from the United States of America, South Sudan seceded from Sudan, and is currently the youngest nation on earth.

Self-determination is every people’s right.  Luckily, there is content on self-determination on our blog, already. Whereas, I am not for northern Uganda seceding from Uganda, I will tell you what you must do if you want to secede, successfully. (Whoever said that law is reason free from passion just got me!)

So, what must a people who intend to secede do, to successfully form their own nation? There are three things to be done and they are:

  1. Declare yourselves independent
  2. Get recognized by other states
  3. Join the United Nations

Declare yourselves independent

According to the Montevideo Convention on the Rights and Duties of States, 1933 (the convention), a people who intend to secede from another country must declare their intention to do so. It is sometimes difficult to declare such an intention: does your Member of Parliament speak for you? Is it the traditional leaders?

According to the constitution of Uganda, citizens have the right to demand for a referendum. So, through the duly elected representatives in parliament, the people of northern Uganda can demand for a referendum.

The result of the referendum should favour the call for secession. Thereafter, it is a requirement under the 1993 convention for the new state to have defined territory, and a permanent population.

The new state must also have a government, and must be able to enter into relations with other countries. It goes without saying that the new government needs a name, a flag, a currency, an anthem, a symbol, a national language, and a capital city.

Get recognized by other states

The international community must recognize the new state. Recognition is given by individual states, at their discretion. For example, countries like Taiwan, Palestine, Israel, and Kosovo are not recognized by some states

Join the United Nations

To join the United Nations, a country must make an application letter to join, together with a declaration that it will follow the United Nations Charter to the UN Secretary General. The application is then forwarded to the Security Council who must vote in favour of the application. The required vote from the Security Council is 9/15 votes of the council. However, of those 9 votes needed, 5 must be from the permanent members of the Security Council. The five permanent members of the Security Council are: the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the USA, France, the Russian Federation and China.

If the vote of the Security Council is successful, then a recommendation of admission is forwarded to the General Assembly for consideration. Currently, the General Assembly of the United Nations consists of 193 members. At the General Assembly, the new state seeking admission must get two-thirds of the vote to gain admission as a member of the United Nations.

Upon successful voting, then the new state gains membership effective the date resolution for admission is adopted.

There! That’s how a people can secede and form their own nation.

But then, like I earlier stated, keep Uganda the way Kiiza Besigye suggests – one people, one Uganda!


This article appears in our weekly digital law magazine, The Deuteronomy, Vol 9, Issue 1 of December 2nd, 2016.

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