chapter  3
17 Pages

International actions and the making and unmaking of unrecognized states: Klejda Mulaj


In a recent contribution, Richard Rosecrance and his collaborators considered the question: ‘Who will be independent?’ They reached the conclusion that the process of political subdivision is not likely to continue unabated, and that the process of (new) state formation has largely run its course. This is so, not because demands for self-determination do not exist, but because metropolitan governments are being more efficient in buying off the discontented parties or in compelling them to submit, and because Great Power support for selfdetermination and creation of new states – in general – has lessened. Moreover, the net effect of globalization dwarfs political units in so far as it renders them dependent on the outside world for technology, markets, raw materials, and trained manpower. Such dependency impacts all polities but it impedes in particular smaller political units, especially so independence movements (seeking or) just gaining autonomy (Rosecrance et al. 2006: 3-22; Rosecrance 2006: 279-92).1 It follows, therefore, that lack of self-sufficiency is a key attribute which puts a break on the creation of new states. This last point has relevance in understanding why some political entities survive the process of state formation, whilst others are subjected to unrecognized statehood. Despite strong national aspirations to sovereignty, the term ‘state’ is somehow problematic for an adequate characterization of the entities analysed in this chapter and volume. In addition to limited economic and strategic self-sufficiency, entities defined here as ‘unrecognized states’2 lack political clout as a result of absence of international recognition and concomitant benefits which come with it, as well as facing strong impediments posed by what once was – or is – their ‘parent’ country. In addition to (likely) failing to fully meet legal requirements of statehood as laid down in the Montevideo Convention,3 at issue for any ‘unrecognized state’ is (deficiency of ) a key attribute of statehood, namely sovereignty.4 Perhaps ‘quasistates’ or ‘de facto states’ might be more accurate depictive notions, but they are likely to offend aspirations for statehood on the part of national elites and their followers, as well as their political actions to this end. With this caveat in place, and for the purpose of consistency, this chapter follows the terminology adopted throughout this volume and therefore refers to ‘unrecognized states’ to describe political entities that show resemblance of statehood but lack the formal acceptance of the international community.