a capacity to enter into relations with other states.
According to the declarative theory, an entity's statehood is independent of its recognition by other states. By contrast, the constitutive theory defines a state as a person of international law only if it is recognised as such by other states that are already a member of the international community.
Proto-states often reference either or both doctrines in order to legitimise their claims to statehood. There are, for example, entities which meet the declarative criteria (with de facto partial or complete control over their claimed territory, a government and a permanent population), but whose statehood is not recognised by any other states. Non-recognition is often a result of conflicts with other countries that claim those entities as integral parts of their territory. In other cases, two or more partially recognised states may claim the same territorial area, with each of them de facto in control of a portion of it (as have been the cases of the Republic of China (Taiwan) and the People's Republic of China (PRC), and North and South Korea). Entities that are recognised by only a minority of the world's states usually reference the declarative doctrine to legitimise their claims.
be recognised as a state by at least one UN member state.
Women in Somaliland, wearing the colors of the Somaliland flag.
There are 193 United Nations (UN) member states, while both the Holy See and Palestine have observer state status in the United Nations. However, some countries fulfill the declarative criteria, are recognised by the large majority of other states and are members of the United Nations, but are still included in the list here because one or more other states do not recognise their statehood, due to territorial claims or other conflicts.
The Republic of Cyprus (commonly known as Cyprus), independent since 1960, is not recognised by one UN member (Turkey) and one UN non-member (Northern Cyprus), due to the ongoing civil dispute over the island.
The People's Republic of China (PRC), proclaimed in 1949, is the more widely recognised of the two claimant governments of China, the other being the Republic of China (ROC, also known as Taiwan). The United Nations recognised the ROC as the sole representative of China until 1971, when it decided to give this recognition to the PRC instead (see United Nations General Assembly Resolution 2758).[a] The PRC and ROC do not recognise each other's statehood, and each enforces its own version of the One-China Policy meaning that no state can recognise both of them at the same time. The states that recognise the ROC (14 UN members and the Holy See as of 20 September 2019) regard it as the sole legitimate government of China and therefore do not recognise the PRC. Bhutan is the only UN member state that has never explicitly recognised either the PRC or the ROC.
The Republic of China considers itself to be the sole legitimate government of China (including Taiwan), and therefore claims exclusive sovereignty over all territory controlled by the PRC.
Israel, founded in 1948, is not recognised by 31 UN members. The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), which enjoys majority international recognition as sole representative of the Palestinian people, recognised Israel in 1993. In January 2018, the Palestinian Central Council voted to suspend recognition of Israel, but the decision has yet to be acted upon.
The Republic of China (ROC), constitutionally formed in 1912, and located primarily in Taiwan since 1949 (resulting in 'Taiwan' being frequently used to refer to the state), enjoyed majority recognition as the sole government of China until roughly the late 1950s/1960s, when a majority of UN member states started to gradually switch recognition to the People's Republic of China (PRC). The United Nations itself recognised the ROC as the sole representative of China until 1971, when it decided to give this recognition to the PRC instead (see United Nations General Assembly Resolution 2758).[a] The ROC and PRC do not recognise each other's statehood, and each enforces its own version of the One-China Policy meaning that no state can recognise both of them at the same time. The ROC is currently recognised by 14 UN members and the Holy See. Almost all the remaining UN member states, as well as the Cook Islands and Niue, recognise the PRC instead of the ROC and either accept the PRC's territorial claim over Taiwan, take a non-committal position on Taiwan's status, or sidestep the Taiwan issue entirely.[a] A significant number of PRC-recognising states nonetheless conduct officially non-diplomatic relations with the ROC. Bhutan is the only UN member state that has never explicitly recognised the ROC or the PRC. Since the early nineties, the ROC has sought separate United Nations membership under a variety of names, including 'Taiwan'.
Artsakh (formerly known as the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic) declared its independence in 1991 (roughly at the same time as Azerbaijan itself when the Soviet Union fell). It is recognised by three UN non-members: Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Transnistria.
Azerbaijan claims Artsakh as part of its sovereign territory.
Some subnational entities and regions function as de facto independent states, with the central government exercising little or no control over their territory. These entities, however, do not explicitly claim to be independent states and are therefore not included. Examples include Galmudug and Puntland in Somalia, Gaza in Palestine, Iraqi Kurdistan, Rojava in Syria, and the Wa State in Myanmar.
Entities considered to be micronations are not included.[d] Even though micronations generally claim to be sovereign and independent, it is often debatable whether a micronation truly controls its claimed territory.[e] For this reason, micronations are usually not considered of geopolitical relevance. For a list of micronations, see list of micronations.
Those areas undergoing current civil wars and other situations with problems over government succession, regardless of temporary alignment with the inclusion criteria (e.g. by receiving recognition as state or legitimate government), where the conflict is still in its active phase, the situation is too rapidly changing and no relatively stable proto-states have emerged yet.
Some states can be slow to establish relations with new UN member states and thus do not explicitly recognise them, despite having no dispute and sometimes favorable relations. These are excluded from the list.
^ abcBoth the Republic of China and the People's Republic of China claim sovereignty over the whole of China, stating China is de jure a single sovereign entity encompassing both the area controlled by the PRC and the area controlled by the ROC. The position of individual states on this matter varies. Several states fully accept the PRC's position that there is only one China and that the PRC is the sole legitimate representative of China. Other states merely acknowledge this position, while recognising only the PRC as a state. Some states recognise only the ROC as a state, but have expressed an interest in recognition and relations with both the ROC and the PRC.
^Micronations are not included even if they are recognised by another micronation
^It is far from certain that micronations, which are generally of minuscule size, have sovereign control over their claimed territories, contrasted with the mere disregard and indifference toward micronations’ assertions by the states from which they allege to have seceded. By not deeming such declarations (and other acts of the micronation) important enough to react in any way, these states generally consider micronations to be private property and their claims as unofficial private announcements of individuals, who remain subject to the laws of the states in which their properties are located.
^Thomas D. Grant, The recognition of states: law and practice in debate and evolution (Westport, Connecticut: Praeger, 1999), chapter 1.
^ abStaff writers (20 February 2008). "Palestinians 'may declare state'". BBC News. British Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 22 January 2011.:"Saeb Erekat, disagreed arguing that the Palestine Liberation Organisation had already declared independence in 1988. "Now we need real independence, not a declaration. We need real independence by ending the occupation. We are not Kosovo. We are under Israeli occupation and for independence we need to acquire independence".
^Shelley, Toby (1988). "Spotlight on Morocco". West Africa. London: West Africa Publishing Company Ltd (3712–3723: December 5–31): 2282. "... the SADR was one of the first countries to recognise the state of Palestine."
^Israel's Disengagement Plan: Renewing the Peace Process: "Israel will guard the perimeter of the Gaza Strip, continue to control Gaza air space, and continue to patrol the sea off the Gaza coast. ... Israel will continue to maintain its essential military presence to prevent arms smuggling along the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt (Philadelphi Route), until the security situation and cooperation with Egypt permit an alternative security arrangement."
^Global Investment and Business Center, Inc. Staff Taiwan Foreign Policy and National Security Yearbook 2011 Second Edition International Business Publications, USA ISBN0-7397-3660-4Online version available at Google Books
^Shaw, Malcolm Nathan International Law Fifth Edition Cambridge University Press 2003 ISBN0-521-82473-7 p. 218 Searchable text, available via Amazon.com, "The Italian Court of Cassation in 1935 recognised the international personality of the Order, noting that ‘the modern theory of the subjects of international law recognises a number of collective units whose composition is independent of the nationality of their constituent members and whose scope transcends by virtue of their universal character the territorial confines of any single state.’ (Nanni v. Pace and the Sovereign Order of Malta 8 AD, p. 2. See also …)"
^"La Orden de Malta y su Naturaleza Jurídica". Venezuela Analitica. 1 May 1999. Archived from the original on 1 August 2015. Retrieved 1 August 2015. English language translation "[T]he clear territorial separation of sovereign areas that exists between the Italian State and the State of Vatican City does not exist between the Order of Malta and the Italian State, but neither can it be said that the treatment given to the headquarters of the Order (Aventine, Via Condotti) is, simply, that reserved for the headquarters of diplomatic missions accredited to the Italian State. In fact, the headquarters of the Order have diplomatic extraterritoriality (authoritarian acts of any kind – executive, acts of inspection, judicial – cannot take place inside), but in addition, the Italian State recognizes the exercise, in the headquarters, of the prerogatives of sovereignty. This means that Italian sovereignty and Maltese sovereignty coexist without overlapping, because the Order exercises sovereign functions in a wider area than occurs in the diplomatic missions of the States for, although [those diplomatic missions] enjoy extraterritoriality, the guarantees deriving from the privilege of immunity are constrained to a purely administrative area; the Order, instead, makes use of extraterritoriality to meet the very acts of sovereign self-determination that are the same as the States (legislative, judicial, administrative, financial acts)."