African Journal of
Political Science and International Relations

  • Abbreviation: Afr. J. Pol. Sci. Int. Relat.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 1996-0832
  • DOI: 10.5897/AJPSIR
  • Start Year: 2007
  • Published Articles: 403

Full Length Research Paper

Barotseland and the advocacy for statehood: A case entailing the complexities of statehood and state recognition in public international law

Ancietos Mwansa
  • Ancietos Mwansa
  • Department of Politics and Administrative Studies, School of Social Sciences, Mulungushi University P. O. Box 80415. Great North Road Campus, Kabwe, Zambia.
  • Google Scholar

  •  Received: 20 July 2017
  •  Accepted: 18 September 2017
  •  Published: 30 November 2017


This paper discussed the Barotseland claim for statehood from the republic of Zambia with respect to the Barotseland Agreement (1964) signed between the Northern Rhodesian government and the Barotse Royal Establishment (BRE) in April 1964.  In discussing the Barotseland question, using a qualitative approach, this paper considered the sentiments that fuel the reasons for seeking separate statehood by Barotseland pro-separatists. An analysis based on the criteria of 1933 Montevideo Convention on Statehood was made, and considerations were also made on the viability of these claims (for statehood) with respect to the possible ramifications of the grant of statehood. Self-determination of people is guaranteed and is a principle or right supported by the United Nations (UN) Charter within the rights of groups seeking self-determination. Ergo, statehood is a matter that requires the satisfaction of the criteria necessary for its pursuit. However, as this paper contended, the status of statehood is usually placed outside the domestic confines of where the claim is being made, and into the international realm. It is therefore imperative to consider these questions within the framework of Public International Law and Politics because ultimately, in a highly-globalized world, statehood or recognition of an entity as a state cannot be conferred without the involvement and resolutions of the international community through the auspices of the United Nations - in which case statehood is concretized as this gives a state legal personality. For comparative and illustrative purposes, the paper drew on some famous statehood questions from different parts of the world. This paper concludes that the Barotseland calls for statehood do not satisfy the 1933 Montevideo Convention and that the feasibility of a separate Barotseland is far from possible.


Key words: Barotseland, independence, secession, self-determination, sovereignty, statehood, state recognition, Zambia.