Re: Is there a way for countries to become legally independent without the bloodshed?
Montenegro's recent split from Serbia would be a good point to start. Very recent and very peaceful.
After Yugoslavia broke up in 1991, the republics of Serbia and Montenegro established a federation called the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY). They established a new constitution in 1992. This new constitution abandoned the collective presidency of the former SFRY (aka former Yugoslavia) and replaced it with the system consisting of a single president, who was initially appointed with the consent of the republics of Serbia and Montenegro until 1997 after which the president was democratically elected.
From 1996, the first public signs of political discord between parts of Montenegrin leadership and the Serbian leadership began to appear. By 1998, Montenegro undertook a different economic policy by adopting the Deutsche Mark as its currency.
During autumn 1999, following the Kosovo War and the NATO bombing campaign, Montenegrin Prime Minister Milo Đukanović drafted a document called Platforma za redefiniciju odnosa Crne Gore i Srbije (A platform for redefinition of relations within the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia) calling for major changes in the division of governing responsibilities within FR Yugoslavia. FRY Pesident Slobodan Milošević did not respond to the platform, considering it unconstitutional.
However, by October 2000 Milošević had lost power in Serbia. Contrary to expectation, Đukanović's response to the power change in Belgrade was not to further push the agenda outlined in his platform, but instead to suddenly start pushing for full independence. Subsequent governments of Montenegro carried out pro-independence policies.
On 4 February 2003, the federal parliament of Yugoslavia created a loose state union - State Union of Serbia and Montenegro. A new Constitutional Charter was agreed to provide a framework for the governance of the country.
The process of secession was regulated by that Constitutional Charter. Article 60 of the constitution required that a minimum of three years pass after its ratification before one of the member states could declare independence. The same article specified the referendum as necessary for this move. However, this constitution allowed member states to define their own referendum laws.
An independence referendum was held in Montenegro on 21 May 2006. It was approved by 55.5% of voters, narrowly passing the 55% threshold. By 23 May, preliminary referendum results were recognized by all five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, indicating widespread international recognition of Montenegro once independence would be formally declared. The Assembly of the Republic of Montenegro made a formal Declaration of Independence on Saturday 3 June 2006. Serbian president Boris Tadić accepted the results of the referendum in favor of independence.