Territorial fragmentation

Under certain conditions territories are recognized as having the right to self-determination. This gives rise to accepted difficulties in the case of existing dependent areas, but raises more serious problems when the principle is considered equally applicable to component parts of existing independent countries in which the majority of people of those areas express the desire for self-determination. There is no recognized limit to the application of this principle.

The term "Balkanization", which has its roots in the situation in the Balkans around 1912, refers to a condition in which many small nations, filled with national pride and hatreds and jealousies and egged on by demagogues, take up arms against one another. In the resulting state of war, no territory is able to pursue a course of peaceful self-determination or development. Antagonisms increase, causing further fragmentation.

Cultural self-determination without a political framework is an issue in many countries now. Spain has the Basques and Catalans; Britain has Northern Ireland; Canada the Quebecôis; Belgium has the Flemings; Israel the Arabs, and so on. No country is safe from fragmentation; no country can assume that its enemies are all outside its borders.
The dangers of fragmentation should not be exaggerated. Often measures of decentralization and local autonomy satisfy the small groups involved. Furthermore, it is important to distinguish between self-determination of small entities already in existence and self-determination of sub-units which do not yet have any recognized status. Unlike the latter, the former do not have to prove that they have the right to self-determination.
(C) Cross-sectoral problems