Brooklyn Journal of International Law


On September 18, 2014, Scottish voters decided whether to sever the 307 years of unity between Scotland and the United Kingdom in an independence referendum. While the voters ultimately rejected independence, the process by which the Scots accomplished this historic exercise will inform further democratic secession movements.

This Note examines the significant implications of Scotland’s independence referendum by assessing the history of independence referendums and the present scope of relevant international law. The formative history of the independence referendum and modern precedential examples established the requirements for democratic secession. In turn, the Scottish independence referendum, in the context of evolving law and state practice, can provide a powerful rubric for future attempts at secession by independence referendum.