I’ve been looking into independence movements around the world, and wanted to share some thoughts here.
First of all, I think this is an area that has been greatly overlooked in the freedom movement, at least in the United States, where politics tends to be quite nationally focused. This may be somewhat less true in other parts of the world. But I see decentralism as a key libertarian value. When polities are divided into smaller and smaller entities, what lies at the end of this path is self-government. Irrespective of what a particular independence movement stands for, I think it is in the interests of the freedom movement to support their right to secede, on the basis of a majority of the population in a given area favoring secession.
Second, I see a great political opportunity here, especially in an increasingly interconnected world, for these movements to support each other, and for libertarians to play a role in this, at the same time turning them on to libertarian ideas. Many independence advocates are waging small, lonely struggles. I have personally attended and in some cases spoken at rallies and other events for these groups, representing people in places from Tibet to Khalistan to Nicaragua (the indigenous Miskitu population), or sometimes (as in the case of Sudan), groups that while not seeking secession from an existing state, are trying to bring greater freedom and democracy to their homelands, as was the case with Sudan, when Sudanese expatriots demonstrated in this country as part of the popular uprising that led to the downfall of the dictator Omar al-Bashir in 2019. Often these groups are very effective at mobilizing members of their own communities, who care deeply about their cause, but they tend to be very ineffective at spreading their message to and building support among the broader public.
Third, there are far more of these independence movements in the world than most people realize. Possibly even more than there are countries represented in the United Nations (193). At its founding, the UN had only 51 members, so the trend – toward recognition of a growing number of political entities – has been in the right direction, even if the UN itself is a dubious organization to say the least.
I recently discovered there is even a relatively unknown organization representing some of those seeking greater autonomy, the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO), which has existed since at least 1991 and lists 43 member groups according to Wikipedia – Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization - Wikipedia. And this is by no means an exhaustive list of such movements, which range in autonomy/size from Taiwan at one end of the scale (which is listed as a member) and the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria, aka Rojava (which is not), to tiny would-be national entities such as Kalahui Hawaii (listed as a former member), and the Hutt River Principality on the continent of Australia (not listed).
Interestingly, per Wikipedia, UNPO has an even longer list of former members than current members, although this may not generally be the result of any controversy with the group itself – the site notes that “Some members of the UNPO have left because of UN recognition, autonomy agreements, or for other reasons.” What I’m reading about the UNPO does not raise any obvious red flags for libertarians, although this bears more investigation. One interesting item of note – Washington D.C. is listed as a member! Presumably those responsible for this are not seeking actual independence, but simply trying to get statehood.
In any case, I think joining UNPO is something the New Hampshire independence movement might want to consider. Their membership policies and how to apply are described here – UNPO: UNPO Membership.
If the UNPO proves unsuitable, or unwilling to admit the New Hampshire independence movement, I think libertarians ought to consider forming a similar group of our own along more libertarian lines. I am personally interested in trying to build bridges between different autonomy movements, help them support each other, and raise awareness of libertarian ideas including in particular the right to secede. Possibly this could be accomplished under the auspices of UNPO, or Liberty International (the libertarian non-profit formerly known as the International Society for Individual Liberty), or some other organization, or it could be a free-standing group.