The recent unilateral declaration of independence in Kosovo fills me with dread. The Balkans have had a tragic enough history and the prospect of reprisals, or of the Republika Srpska declaring independent or even seeking to join Serbia, does not feel encouraging.
I see that David Miliband has declared that the Kosovo situation is "unique". (BBC News: Kosovo case unique, says Miliband) in an attempt to limit the effects when there are many other separatist movements. But every separatist movement has unique factors. This UDI cannot but encourage others.
And it's already started. There are reports that senior Palestinians are considering declaring their own state if negotiations fail (BBC News: Palestinians 'may declare state'), claiming that they are no less deserving than Kosovo.
UDIs are amongst the worst forms of state creation. They leave many questions unsettled at the point of declaration and often find the only means of settlement is war, they encourage other movements to strive for the same and they prove divisive in the international community. Endorsing a UDI is just as dangerous. I fear that the genie is now well and truly out of the bottle.