State recognition and dynamic sovereignty

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Abstract

This study reflects on sovereignty as dynamic, whereby associated conditions, like recognition, fluctuate in quality and quantity within a unit and over time, and adds to existing discussions that concentrate on changes in the meaning of (rather than associated conditions with) sovereignty or more static approaches to partial sovereignty relative to other actors in international relations (e.g. in the context of hierarchical relations). I do so by reflecting on different degrees of recognition, as associated with external sovereignty, such as extensive but not general recognition (e.g. Kosovo); different types of recognition, such as recognition of a right to (as opposed to the presence of) statehood (e.g. Palestine); as well as change in recognition over time, such as with those witnessing significant fluctuations in their recognition (e.g. Taiwan, Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic). Towards explaining these changes and theory development, I argue for historicising sovereignty, and by doing so, I contribute to a literature that has focused more on changes in the meaning of sovereignty across time rather than changes in its within-unit practical manifestations. I also offer some preliminary theoretical assumptions on how internal and external dimensions of sovereignty might interplay over time in processes of state emergence and on issues of agency, particularly on how recognisers define what we understand as sovereignty but also how some statehood claimants navigate or even embrace their lack of recognition to advance their sovereignty. With this range of conceptual and theoretical propositions presented, the study seeks to facilitate the development of further analysis of statehood, recognition and sovereignty.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)287-311
Number of pages25
JournalEuropean Journal of International Relations
Volume28
Issue number2
Early online date22 Feb 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
I thank Bruno Theodoro Luciano for his assistance with data collection and comments on earlier drafts. For comments, I am also grateful to Christopher Day, Adrian Florea, Beste İşleyen, Maria Koinova, Nicolas Lemay-Hébert, Catalina Neculai, Adam Quinn, Stefan Wolff, the Political Settlements and International Relations and Security Research Groups, the Morning Writing Group at POLSIS, University of Birmingham and to panels at the following conferences: UACES 2016 and 2018, BISA 2017 and 2018, EUSA 2017; ISA 2019 and CES 2019. I would also like to thank the journal editors and reviewers for their constructive engagement with my work. The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship and/or publication of this article: I would like to thank the Leverhulme Trust for supporting my research Grant Reference: ECF-2016-689.

Funding Information:
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship and/or publication of this article: I would like to thank the Leverhulme Trust for supporting my research Grant Reference: ECF-2016-689.

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2022.

Keywords

  • State sovereignty
  • recognition
  • International Relations
  • intergovernmental organisation
  • state
  • international history

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