Introduction: unrecognized states in the international system NINA CASPERSEN AND GARETH STANSfIELD
The first two criteria are fairly similar to other definitions of unrecognized states (for example, Pegg 1998; Kolstø 2006), although our criteria are a little more permissive and we, for example, include Kosovo, which Kolstø (2006) characterizes as a borderline case. However, the latter criterion differs from previous works and broadens the concept of unrecognized states to include entities that have not formally declared independence.6 By not insisting on a formal declaration of independence, we are able to include entities such as Taiwan, the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, as well as Montenegro prior to its independence from Serbia-Montenegro. The absence of a formal declaration of independence can be a strategic attempt to increase room for manoeuvre and the prospect for international support. Such considerations were seen in Abkhazia, which only formally declared independence in 1999, even though it had been de facto independent since 1993. Eritrea, likewise, only declared independence in 1993 following an independence referendum, but it had been de facto independent since 1991 and its aspirations were clear. Table I.1 lists unrecognized states since World War II. The dates identified for the beginnings and (in some cases) ends of unrecognized states should be regarded only as approximations. In some cases, Somaliland, for example, a formal declaration of independence accompanied by unambiguous political control of territory makes identifying the birth date
relatively straightforward. In other cases, such as Montenegro, the process was more gradual and the absence of such a formal declaration of independence complicates the dating of the birth. In still other cases, Chechnya and Kosovo, for example, the on-off nature of the conflict makes it difficult to determine with precision when the ‘de facto independence’ criterion applied. During the time of the First Chechen war (1994-1996), for example, it would be difficult to argue that anyone really controlled the territory of Chechnya in any meaningful sense. Cases that do not meet our criteria include the Mahabad Republic – the stillborn Kurdish state established in northern Iran in 1947, and the Republic of Crimea, neither of which satisfy the criterion for two-year duration. Less clear-cut are omissions such as Puntland (Somalia) and Adjara (Georgia). Although both entities clearly satisfy the requirements of de facto statehood in that both are (were) self-governing and in control of defined territory for periods longer than two years, neither expressed a desire to secede from their respective parent. Unlike some authors (for example, Geldenhuys 2009) we have also not included Western Sahara and Palestine. These entities are more widely recognized than most unrecognized states, but they do not meet the criterion of territorial control and the dynamics of their development, existence, and the potential for conflict resolution is therefore expected to differ. However, some contributors to this volume have decided to include them.7 Also omitted are a significant number of insurgencies and uprisings that may have been inspired by a desire for independence, but in which the separatist movement has not managed to exert sufficient political control over the desired territory to qualify as de facto independence. Among these cases we are likely to find candidates for future unrecognized states and the category includes entities such as Aceh (Indonesia) and southern Sudan. Despite such omissions, our definition allows for a high degree of fluidity in terms of territorial control, degree of recognition and demands made, and this is deliberate. Within the category of unrecognized states, we find a high level of variation and, despite being known for their intransigence, these entities are frequently characterized by a sense of flux and are, moreover, perceived as transitional. Non-recognition is not regarded as a permanent status, not by the outside world and not by the leaders and populations of these entities. Internally, nonrecognition is seen as a necessary, and possibly painful, step on the road to recognition, and by the outside world it is frequently seen as a temporary anomaly before territorial integrity is restored – through negotiations, or through the use of force. And unrecognized states do indeed change form; for example, Chechnya went from an insurgent state in the early 1990s, to an unrecognized state from 1996 to 1999, to a black spot during the wars and now to a state-within-astate (Pełczynska-Nałęcz et al. 2008). The ability to adapt is often crucial to their survival but it also hints at possible limits to their long-term viability.