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Unilateral Declaration of Independence

A Unilateral Declaration of Independence or UDI is an illegal declaration of independence made by a body in the name of a state, region or entity. Many states have come into being through an act of UDI. Often the international community declines at first to accept the legitimacy of the 'state' and its 'government'. Over time, if the 'state' becomes a functioning entity, it may be given diplomatic recognition and a form of backdated legitimacy. Not all such 'states' however survive. Many collapse, with the previous legal government and authority resuming control.

Examples of UDI

  • The United States of America in 1776 (it was ultimately accepted by the international community, and given a retrospective validity in international law);

  • Rhodesia (Ian Smith's white minority government declared UDI from Britain in 1965. Few states accepted its legitimacy. The UDI Rhodesian state was ultimately replaced under the Lancaster House Agreement[?] by a restored British regime under a governor, Lord Soames. Within a short time, a new legally independent state, Zimbabwe, came into existence.

The Canadian province of Quebec, as well as the Palestinian Liberation Organization have occasionally threatened to issue UDIs.



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