The counter-diplomacy of state recognition

Authored by: James Ker-Lindsay

Routledge Handbook of State Recognition

Print publication date:  September  2019
Online publication date:  September  2019

Print ISBN: 9780815354871
eBook ISBN: 9781351131759
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter deals with the ways in which parent and other states try to prevent secessionist territories from gaining broad international recognition. It identifies four main elements for a counter-recognition strategy: states continue to claim sovereignty over the seceding territory; formal diplomatic efforts to prevent the territory from being recognised bilaterally by other states and preventing the territory from joining regional and international organisations are pursued; even if the seceding territory does not receive widespread recognition, or join various international organisations, ‘creeping’ legitimisation on the international stage can occur, and the parent state therefore needs to ensure that the territory does not gradually gain acceptance; and there is a range of legal steps that can be taken to shore up a claim to a sovereignty over a breakaway territory.

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