International Aspects of Separatism in Contemporary Biafra

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In the 21st century, the world at large and Africa in particular have encountered the rise of separatism, which has become one of the major challenges to stability. In Africa, over 20 countries face separatist movements, some of which demand full secession, while the rest - greater autonomy within the existing state. Most of Africa’s secessionist projects remain insignificant in scope and ineffectual, largely due to the absence or weakness of external support for separatists and to the commitment of the international community to preserve, with rare exceptions, the territorial integrity of states. The paper analyzes the reasons for the revival of the movement for the secession of Biafra decades after the end of the civil war between the central government of Nigeria and the separatists and looks into the international aspects that could fuel the conflict and exacerbate the military-political situation in West Africa, which is already turbulent due to the activities of Boko Haram terrorist group, other Islamist groupings in the Sahel, Cameroonian separatists of Ambazonia, etc. The present paper attempts to fill the gap in Russian Africanist literature on the current situation in Biafra, which is especially urgent due to the growing threat of separatism in Africa. Employing the historical approach, the authors analyze the nature of external involvement in the 1967-1970 Nigerian conflict, as well as methods of contemporary Biafran separatists, who seek international support. The paper concludes that due to various internal circumstances, as well as the practical lack of external material assistance, the establishment of a new “Republic of Biafra” will remain a utopian project for at least a decade, although separatist sentiments is likely to spread and hinder the achievement of internal political stability in West Africa, which is ridden with an increasing number of “hot spots”.

About the authors

Tatyana S. Denisova

Institute for African Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences

Author for correspondence.
ORCID iD: 0000-0001-6321-3503

PhD in History, Leading Research Fellow, Head, Centre for Tropical Africa

Moscow, Russia

Sergey V. Kostelyanets

Institute for African Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences; HSE University

ORCID iD: 0000-0002-9983-9994

PhD in Political Science, Leading Research Fellow, Head, Centre for Sociological and Political Sciences Studies

Moscow, Russia


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Copyright (c) 2021 Denisova T.S., Kostelyanets S.V.

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