The risk of domino secessions: interdependent secessions and lessons from the Western Balkans

Iztok Prezelj, Kristopher Ramsay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The resurgence of nationalist tendencies around the world has brought new attention to the problem of smaller regions seceding from larger states. While research exists regarding the contagious nature of self-determination, ethnic conflict and civil wars, the interrelationships among various secessionist conflicts have not been systematically studied. We show that the circumstances of secession conflicts in different countries are interconnected by the perceptions of elites and that outcomes in one case may, therefore, influence expectations, motivations, strategies and outcomes in others. We also identified several indicators of interconnectivity among secessionist conflicts in the Western Balkans and visualised the strength of the links among them using social network analysis tools (Pajek–Spider). After the outbreak of a secession conflict, several inter-secession effects will be directly transferred to the most interconnected cases, and the greatest domino risk results from the combined impacts of direct and indirect nth-order effects.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)126-149
Number of pages24
JournalEuropean Security
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2024

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Political Science and International Relations


  • Balkanisation
  • Secession
  • Western Balkans
  • independence
  • interdependency
  • security


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