This paper argues for the superiority of international law’s existing ban on unilateral secession over its reform to include either a primary or remedial right to secession. I begin by defending the claim that secession is an inherently institutional concept, and that therefore we ought to employ institutional moral reasoning to defend or criticize specific proposals regarding a right to secede. I then respond to the objection that at present we lack the empirical evidence necessary to sustain any specific conclusion regarding an international legal right to secession. Specifically, I argue that we ought to adopt a precautionary approach, and that such an approach justifies giving no weight to promoting political self- determination per se when considering whether to reform international law governing secession. I conclude with several reasons to think that even a remedial right to unilateral secession will detract from, not enhance, the international legal order’s ability to promote peace and human rights.

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Copyright © 2017 Springer Nature Switzerland AG. Article first published online: 28 December 2017.

DOI: 10.1007/s10982-017-9316-2

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Lefkowitz, David. “International Law, Institutional Moral Reasoning, and Secession.” Law and Philosophy 37, no. 4 (August 2018): 385–413. 10.1007/s10982-017-9316-2