In this paper, the author sketches a relational approach that regards secession as the political upgrading of a self-governing territory within a multilevel constellation of polities. The author considers territorial integrity, democratic diversity and recognition requirements as general constraints on secession from democratic polities. These principles support substantive and procedural conditions that vary, however, for local, sub-state regional and international secessions. Exit of a member state from a union is the only context in which secession is a unilateral right and even then it is constrained by a duty to negotiate fair terms of separation.