1998

CSC

Reference Re Secession of Quebec Canadian Supreme Court 37 ILM 1340

Questions: Can Quebec secede unilaterally Under Canada’s constitution? [No] Under international law? [No] If Canada’s constitution and international law conflict, which takes precedence in Canada [there is no conflict to address] (126) Sources of international law establish the right to self-determination of a people is normally fulfilled through internal self-determination – a people’s pursuit of its political, economic, social and cultural development within the framework of an existing state. A right to external self-determination (which in this case potentially takes the form of the assertion of a right to unilateral secession) arises only in the most extreme cases and, even then, under carefully defined circumstances

External self-determination can be defined as … a) establishment of a sovereign and independent State, b) the free association or integration with an independent State or c) the emergence into any other political status freely determined by a people (127) The international law principle of self-determination has evolved within a framework of respect for the territorial integrity of existing states… the exercise of [self determination] right must be sufficiently limited to prevent threats to an existing state’s territorial integrity or the stability of relations between sovereign states