Partially recognized state


Some contemporary geopolitical entities that wish to be recognised as de jure sovereign states have been hindered by a lack of diplomatic recognition. In the past, similar entities have existed, and there are now entities claiming independence, often with de facto control of their territory, with recognition ranging from almost all other recognised states to no states at all.

There are two traditional doctrines that provide interpretations of when a de jure sovereign state should be recognised as a member of the international community. The "declarative" theory defines a state as a person in international law if it meets the following criteria: 1) a defined territory; 2) a permanent population; 3) a government and 4) a capacity to enter into relations with other states. According to declarative theory, an entity's statehood is independent of its recognition by other states. By contrast, the "constitutive" theory defines a state as a person of international law if it is recognised as such by another state that is already a member of the international community.[1]

Several entities reference either or both doctrines in order to legitimise their claims to statehood. There are, for example, entities which meet the declarative criteria (with de facto complete or partial control over their claimed territory, a government and a permanent population), but their statehood is not recognised by one or more other states. Non-recognition is often a result of conflicts with other countries that claim those entities as integral parts of their territory. In other cases, two or more partially recognised entities may claim the same territorial area, with each of them de facto in control of a portion of it (as have been the cases of the Republic of China and People's Republic of China, and North and South Korea). Entities that are recognised by only a minority of the world's states usually reference the declarative doctrine to legitimise their claims.

In many situations, international non-recognition is influenced by the presence of a foreign military force in the territory of the presumptive, self-declaring independent entity, so to make problematic the description of the country de facto status. The international community can judge this military presence too intrusive, reducing the entity to a puppet state where effective sovereignty is retained by the foreign power. Historical cases in this sense can be seen in Japanese-led Manchukuo or German-created Slovakia and Croatia before and during World War II. In the 1996 case Loizidou vs. Turkey, the European Court of Human Rights judged Turkey for having exercised authority in the territory of Northern Cyprus.

There are also entities which do not have control over any territory or do not unequivocally meet the declarative criteria for statehood but have been recognised to exist de jure as sovereign entities by at least one other state. Historically this has happened in the case of the Holy See (1870–1929), Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania (during Soviet annexation), among other cases. See list of governments in exile for unrecognised governments without control over the territory claimed.

Criteria for inclusion

The criteria for inclusion means a polity must claim statehood, lack recognition from at least one UN member state, and either:

  • satisfy the declarative theory of statehood, or
  • be recognised as a state by at least one UN member state.

Background

Some states do not establish relations with new nations quickly and thus do not recognise them despite having no dispute and sometimes favorable relations. These are excluded from the list. Some countries fulfill the declarative criteria, are recognised by the large majority of other nations and are members of the United Nations, but are included in the list here because one or more other states do not recognise their statehood, due to territorial claims or other conflicts. Currently there are 193 United Nations (UN) member states. The Holy See and the State of Palestine currently have observer status in the United Nations.[2]

Some states maintain informal (officially non-diplomatic) relations with states that do not officially recognise them. The Republic of China (Taiwan) is one such state, as it maintains unofficial relations with many other states through its Economic and Cultural Offices, which allow regular consular services. This allows the ROC to have economic relations even with states that do not formally recognise it. A total of 56 states, including Germany,[3] Italy,[4] the United States,[5] and the United Kingdom,[6] maintain some form of unofficial mission in the ROC. Kosovo,[7] the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic,[8] Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus,[9] Abkhazia,[10] Transnistria,[10] Sahrawi Republic,[11] Somaliland,[12] and Palestine[13] also host informal diplomatic missions, and/or maintain special delegations or other informal missions abroad. In the U.S., such offices by unrecognized entities are required to be registered as foreign lobbyist organizations under the Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA) and act as regular lobbyists.

Present geopolitical entities by level of recognition

Non-UN member states not recognised by any state

Name Status Other claimants Further information References
Somaliland was granted independence by the United Kingdom in 1960 after the decolonisation of British Somaliland and merged with Italian Somaliland a few days later to form the Somali Republic. It declared its independence and withdrew from Somalia in 1991.  Somalia claims Somaliland as part of its sovereign territory. Foreign relations, missions (of, to) [14][15]

Non-UN member states recognised only by non-UN members

Name Status Other claimants Further information References
 Nagorno-Karabakh Republic Nagorno-Karabakh declared its independence in 1992. It is currently recognised by three UN non-members: Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Transnistria.[16]  Azerbaijan claims Nagorno-Karabakh as part of its sovereign territory. Foreign relations, missions (of, to)
Political status
[14][17][18][19][20]
 Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic The Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic (also known as Transnistria) declared its independence in 1990. It is currently recognised by three UN non-members: Abkhazia, Nagorno-Karabakh and South Ossetia.[20]  Moldova claims Transnistria as part of its sovereign territory. Foreign relations, missions (of, to)
International recognition, Political status
[14][21]

Non-UN member states recognised by at least one UN member

Name Status Other claimants Further information References
 Republic of Abkhazia Abkhazia declared its independence in 1999.[22] It is currently recognised by 5 UN member states (Russia, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Nauru, and Tuvalu), and three UN non-member states (South Ossetia, Transnistria and the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic).[16][23][24][25][26][27][28][29]  Georgia claims Abkhazia as part of its sovereign territory. Foreign relations, missions (of, to)
International recognition
[30][31][32][33]
 Republic of China The Republic of China (ROC, also known as Taiwan), constitutionally formed in 1912, is recognised as the government of the state of China by . All other UN member states do not officially recognise the ROC as a state; some of them regard its controlled territory as de jure part of the People's Republic of China (PRC) while some others have used careful diplomatic language to avoid taking a position as to whether the territory of the ROC is part of the PRC.[Note 1] Throughout the years, the ROC has adopted differing positions towards simultaneous recognition of the ROC and the PRC by other countries.[35]  People's Republic of China claims to be the successor of the former Republic of China and claims all of the territory under ROC jurisdiction as part of its sovereign territory. Foreign relations, missions (of, to)
Political status
[36]
 Republic of Kosovo Kosovo declared its independence in 2008. UN members and the Republic of China (Taiwan). The United Nations, as stipulated in Security Council Resolution 1244, has administered the territory since 1999 through the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo, with cooperation from the European Union since 2008. It is a member of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank Group.  Serbia claims Kosovo as part of its sovereign territory. Foreign relations, missions (of, to)
International recognition; Political status
[37][38]
 Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus Northern Cyprus declared its independence in 1983. It is currently recognised by one UN member, Turkey. The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and the Economic Cooperation Organization have granted Northern Cyprus observer status under the name "Turkish Cypriot State". United Nations Security Council Resolution 541 defines the declaration of independence of Northern Cyprus as legally invalid.[39]  Cyprus claims Northern Cyprus as part of its sovereign territory. Foreign relations, missions (of, to)
Cyprus dispute
[40]
 State of Palestine The Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) declared the State of Palestine in Algiers in 1988. At the time the PLO had no control over any part of the proclaimed territory.[41] It is currently recognised by UN member states,[42] as well as the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic.[43] Today the PLO executes certain administrative tasks of self-government in most parts of the territories through the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) established in 1994 according to the Oslo Accords and the Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement.[44] Palestine participates in the United Nations as an observer state,[45] and has membership in the Arab League, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and UNESCO.[46]  Israel does not recognise the state of Palestine and currently controls the areas claimed by Palestine.[44] All Israeli governments since 1992 have agreed to the creation of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip with mutually agreed land swaps. Foreign relations, missions (of, to)
International recognition, Political status, Proposals for a Palestinian state
[60][61][62][63][64][65][66]
 Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic Both the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) and Morocco claim sovereignty over the territory of Western Sahara. The SADR, which declared its independence in 1976, has been and is a member state of the African Union. states, however, have since retracted or suspended recognition, pending the outcome of a referendum on self-determination.[67][68] Western Sahara is not recognized as part of Morocco by any states, but some states support the Moroccan autonomy plan. Moroccan "territorial integrity" is favoured by the Arab League. United Nations General Assembly Resolution 34/37 recognised the right of the Western Sahara people to self-determination and recognised also the Polisario Front as the representative of the Western Sahara people.[69] Western Sahara is currently listed on the United Nations list of Non-Self-Governing Territories.  Morocco claims Western Sahara as part of its sovereign territory. Foreign relations, missions (of, to)
International recognition; Political status
[70]
 Republic of South Ossetia South Ossetia declared its independence in 1991. It is currently recognised by 5 UN member states (Russia, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Tuvalu and Nauru), and three UN non-member states (Abkhazia, Nagorno-Karabakh and Transnistria).[16][23][71]  Georgia claims South Ossetia as part of its sovereign territory. Foreign relations, missions (of, to)
International recognition
[31][32][72]

Partially unrecognised UN member states

Name Status Other claimants Further information References
 Republic of Armenia Armenia, independent since 1991, is currently not recognised by one UN member, Pakistan, as Pakistan has a position of supporting Azerbaijan since the Nagorno-Karabakh War. None Foreign relations, missions (of, to) [73][74]
 People's Republic of China The People's Republic of China (PRC), proclaimed in 1949, is the more widely recognised of the two claimant governments of "China", the other being the Republic of China (ROC). The PRC does not accept diplomatic relations with states that recognise the ROC (). Most of these states do not officially recognise the PRC as a state, though some states have established relations with the ROC while stating they do not intend to stop recognising the PRC (Kiribati, Nauru).[75][76] Some states which currently recognise only the PRC have attempted simultaneous recognition and relations with the ROC and the PRC in the past (Liberia, Vanuatu).[77][78][79] According to United Nations General Assembly Resolution 2758, the PRC is the only legitimate representative of China to the United Nations.[Note 1]  Republic of China is considered the sole legal government over all of China under the Constitution of the Republic of China. Foreign relations, missions (of, to)
PRC's diplomatic relations dates of establishment
[80]
 Republic of Cyprus Cyprus, independent since 1960, is currently not recognised by one UN member (Turkey) and one UN non-member (Northern Cyprus), due to the ongoing civil dispute over the island.  Northern Cyprus claims part of the island of Cyprus. Foreign relations, missions (of, to) [81][82][83][84]
 State of Israel Israel, founded in 1948, is not recognised by 32 UN members (see Arab-Israeli conflict). It is recognised by the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), which was recognized by Israel in 1993 as the sole, legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.  State of Palestine, represented by the PLO, which has agreed with Israel in principle that a Palestinian state should be established within the Gaza Strip and the West Bank that are currently under Israeli control.[44] Foreign relations, missions (of, to)
International recognition
[85][86][87][88][89]
 Democratic People's Republic of Korea North Korea, independent since 1948, is not recognised by two UN members: Japan and South Korea.[90]  South Korea claims to be the sole legitimate government of Korea. Foreign relations, missions (of, to) [90][91][92]
 Republic of Korea South Korea, independent since 1948, is not recognised by one UN member, North Korea.  North Korea claims to be the sole legitimate government of Korea. Foreign relations, missions (of, to) [93][94]

Excluded entities

See also

Notes

References

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