The last response is to a question in a forum. They are listed below.
Forum Post 1:
The question of what does and does not truly constitute a state is very much at the heart of international law. However, the centrality of this issue to international law does not necessarily render it a question entirely of international law. The concept of the state in many ways is foremost a question of the capacity for a government to maintain control of a geographic area. While this is not an absolute, mostly in the sense that many states can be fractured among factions and still be seen externally a singular state in a political-geographic sense but not necessarily in a functional political sense. This of course brings to mind the question of civil wars and secessionist movements. While civil war can be used to refer to many conflicts as being internal to a country, I will note that that is not always the optimal use of the term but rather a case in which factions contend for control of the seat of government and usually seek to maintain the territorial integrity of the country, this is of course contrastable with secessionist movements which do not necessarily seek to control the whole country of government but rather seek to be separate from that seat of government. The political and practical realities of a state are not the same, and the internal reality is not necessarily similar to the external reality. The absence of external recognition of a state often does carry constraints upon the capabilities of that state to function in international relations. That being said external recognition does not stop states from assuming all the capabilities of a sovereign state. One such example is the case of the early Soviet Union, which did not achieve any external recognition of statehood until the 1920s, when Fascist Italy was the first European state to recognize them.1 Despite several years of non-recognition, the USSR still was able to operate a government and control its territory.
On the question of whether statehood is ultimately dependent upon international recognition the realistic answer is no. The state is not dependent in absolute terms upon external recognition, but rather on internal recognition of the governing authority and the ability of that authority to exert its will over the nationâ€™s territory and populace, as the defining characteristics a state as per the Montevideo Convention are that a state have a defined territory, a government, and a permanent population none of which are dependent upon international recognition of the state.2 However, in the absence of international recognition (of any kind), the ability of a nation to effectively maintain the functions of a state, particularly in a modern and global environment, may be greatly harmed. If a state does not have international recognition, it would logically be seen to be merely a constituent part of whatever nation it otherwise would be succeeding from, or in the event of a continual political border but with a new government which is not recognized, effective international relations and thus any nominal claims that might be raised against external intervention could be undermined by the lack of international recognition especially for those state which are secessionist in origin as the state they are attempting to succeed from nominally have full claim to the use of force to suppress insurrection and preserve their national integrity.
Forum Post 2:
Looking at a map of the world it is hard to believe that some of the oddly shaped colorful blobs we see are not officially recognized states by the entire global community. Some examples of these under recognized nations include Israel, Palestine, Chechnya, The Republic of Kosovo, Cyprus, and Republic of Somaliland. They join a fair number of Asian and former Soviet Union entities in their quest to become fully recognized, independent nation states. In order to do so, there are five key pieces of the puzzle that must fall into place. They are;
- There must be a defined territory with actual leaps and bounds including any and all land, air, and sea.
- It must be occupied by a group of individuals who share a common allegiance and permanently live in and belong to the land.
- A government must exist and be recognized as the government by the majority of the people.
- The state has the capacity to enter into agreements with other, recognized, nation states.
- Independence and sovereignty of states (ie. the proclaimed state has the supreme authority within their own borders and is immune from other states intervention. 1
Originally, and by default, still existing today, is the fact that international law was developed from the longstanding cultures and traditions of the western world, and state formation had little acknowledgement or importance under this law since it was only recognized by â€˜civilized societiesâ€™ (ie. western european nations). This has trickled down into current International Law because a state does not have to be recognized by another state in order for it to be legitimate. What is also interesting to note is that the creation of new states is usually almost always linked to the destruction or end of an old state. They are born out of the ashes of another, failed attempt.2
However, there must be some sort of recognition by other recognized states because in order to conduct trade, or join the international market, one must be recognized in some capacity. A solid example of this is the ongoing violent conflict between The former Soviet Union (Russia) and Chechnya. Chechnya broke away from the Soviet Union in 1991 and attempted to form their own state. Although many nations in the world do recognize them as a legal entity, Russia and Chechnya are still at odds over this split. Another, more controversial conflict regarding state recognition is the Israel and Palestine conflict that has increasingly progressed since 1948. This conflict began in 1917 when Hiem Wiezman persuaded the British government to issue a statement, called the Balfour declaration, claiming support of a Jewish homeland in the state of Palestine. The British did so due to the Jews ongoing military support and aid in against fighting the Turks in WWI. Fast forward to 2018, and the conflict for recognition still rages between Palestine and Israel, with Israel not being recognized by many world states due to their relationship with Palestine.3
Ultimately, the five criteria for state recognition can be met without constraint. However, it is the informal recognition, the other states acknowledging legitimacy that determines the failure of success of such a declaration that makes all the difference.
Respond to this question for forum 3:
This is a fantastic explanation on how to define the terms of statehood. Do you think recognition should matter? What about states that are not part of the UN, but are recognized as states by their surrounding states?