The Geopolitics of State Recognition in a Transitional International Order

24. Edward Newman and Gëzim Visoka, (2023) ‘The Geopolitics of State Recognition in a Transitional International Order’, Geopolitics, 28(1): 364-391.

This article explores how geopolitical rivalries and tensions associated with multipolarity in a transitional international order, driven by shifts in great power influence, are shaping the international politics of state recognition. It considers the diplomatic discourse and practices of traditional great powers and resurgent states in relation to a number of contemporary territories seeking independent statehood and recognition. Although contested claims for sovereign statehood and recognition predate the current great power constellation, we find that contemporary state recognition practices offer dominant powers grounds for normative and geopolitical contestation with their rivals. Whilst this is a reflection of the historical continuities of great power politics, the article shows that the transitional international order, and the friction this generates, has further fragmented the norms and practices of state recognition. At the same time, there has not been a broad upheaval in the politics of state recognition because most states maintain a conservative attitude to state creation. The article contributes to contemporary debates on statehood and recognition by revealing how the political and normative friction associated with the changing international order make the possibility of a rigorous, rules-based regime for international recognition more remote than ever.


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