Power politics and state recognition

Authored by: Milena Sterio

Routledge Handbook of State Recognition

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

Print ISBN: 9780815354871
eBook ISBN: 9781351131759
Adobe ISBN:

10.4324/9781351131759-7

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Abstract

This chapter examines the theory and practice of state recognition, as well as the role of power politics in state recognition. It first reviews existing international law theories of state recognition. Next, it focuses on the role of powerful states in the field of state recognition by examining how Great Powers have granted and denied recognition to some aspiring state-like entities for geopolitical reasons; and on how Great Powers have imposed additional recognition requirements, beyond existing requisites of statehood, on other such entities. While sovereign states exercising their right to recognise a candidate for statehood should carefully consider whether such a candidate satisfies the legal requisites of statehood, in practice recognition is linked to power politics. Powerful states often choose to legitimise a group seeking statehood by bestowing upon it official recognition if this advances the powerful states’ own geopolitical interest, or the interests of a close ally. The chapter concludes that recognition of states is closely linked to power politics, and that acts of recognition often have little to do with the legal criteria of statehood.

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