The Biafran Self-Determination Question: Challenges and Prospects

Journal article

Onwubiko, J. (2023). The Biafran Self-Determination Question: Challenges and Prospects. African Journal of International and Comparative Law. 31 (1), pp. 104-130.
AuthorsOnwubiko, J.

The Nigerian civil war and Biafra’s failed attempt to secede from Nigeria raised a series of questions about the nature and scope of the right to self-determination in formerly colonised states. The question which this paper focuses on is whether the right to self-determination should always amount to a right to secession. Through a critical analysis of Biafran agitations for statehood during the Nigerian civil war and in recent times, this paper makes the case for a framework through which self-determination claims can be addressed within existing territorial arrangements. The paper argues that, in the case of Biafra, forms of internal self-determination such as autonomy may address the agitations and needs of the people better than secession. Hence, international lawyers, and the international community as a whole, should give more attention to internal forms of self-determination.

KeywordsBiafra; Self-Determination; Nigerian civil war; Autonomy; IPOB
JournalAfrican Journal of International and Comparative Law
Journal citation31 (1), pp. 104-130
PublisherEdinburgh University Press
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Publication dates
Print01 Mar 2023
Publication process dates
Accepted01 Feb 2023
Deposited30 Mar 2023
Accepted author manuscript
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