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.
Quasi-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 (ROC; commonly called "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.
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 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). The PRC and the 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.[a] The states that recognise the ROC (13 UN members and the Holy See as of 9 December 2021) 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 Cyprus, independent since 1960, is not recognised by one UN member (Turkey) and one non-UN member (Northern Cyprus), due to the ongoing civil dispute over the island. Turkey does not accept the Republic's rule over the whole island and refers to it as the "Greek Cypriot Administration of Southern Cyprus".
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). 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.[a] The ROC is currently recognised by 13 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 significant number of PRC-recognising UN member states, as well as the Republic of Somaliland, nonetheless conduct officially non-diplomatic relations with the ROC, designating it as either "Taipei" or "Taiwan". Bhutan is the only UN member state that has never explicitly recognised the ROC or the PRC. Since the early 1990s, 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 non-UN members: Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Transnistria.
Artsakh is generally recognised as part of the sovereign territory of Azerbaijan.
Somaliland declared its independence in 1991. It claims to be the successor to the State of Somaliland, a short lived sovereign state that existed from 26 June 1960 (when the British Somaliland Protectorate gained full independence from the United Kingdom) to 1 July 1960 (when the State of Somaliland united with Somalia to form the Somali Republic). It is not officially recognised by any state, though it maintains unofficial relations with several UN member states and the Republic of China.
Somaliland is generally recognised as part of the sovereign territory of Somalia.
The Sovereign Military Order of Malta (SMOM) is a sovereign non-state entity and is not included, as it claims neither statehood nor territory. It has established full diplomatic relations with 112 sovereign states as a sovereign subject of international law, and also maintains full diplomatic relations with the European Union, the Holy See, and the State of Palestine. The order maintains official, but not diplomatic, relations with Belgium, France, Switzerland, Luxembourg and Canada. Additionally, it participates in the United Nations as an observer entity. Some states recognize SMOM as a sovereign state, rather than a sovereign subject of international law. The Republic of San Marino in 1939 recognized SMOM as a sovereign state in its own right. Italy's Supreme Court of Cassation decreed on 6 June 1974 that, "the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Malta constitutes a sovereign international subject, in all terms equal, even if without territory, to a foreign state with which Italy has normal diplomatic relations, so there is no doubt, as already this Supreme Court has warned, that it has the legal treatment of foreign states". As Italy recognizes, in addition to extraterritoriality, the exercise by SMOM of all the prerogatives of sovereignty in its headquarters, Italian sovereignty and SMOM sovereignty uniquely coexist without overlapping.
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 quasi-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. Examples include Croatia and Montenegro.
^ abBoth the Republic of China and the People's Republic of China officially claim to represent the whole of China, stating China is a single sovereign entity encompassing both the area controlled by the PRC and the area controlled by the ROC. Neither the PRC nor the ROC officially recognise each other's claim to statehood, and they compete for diplomatic recognition as the only legitimate representative of China among other states. Historically, both the PRC and the ROC have broken off diplomatic relations with any state engaging in diplomatic relations or claiming to recognise the other, though the ROC has in some instances accepted dual recognition since it transitioned to democracy in the 1990s. However, as of 2021 no state officially recognises 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.
^ 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: 5–31 December): 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.)"
^ abArocha, Magaly (May 1999). "La Orden de Malta y su Naturaleza Jurídica (The Order of Malta and Its Legal Nature)". Caracas, Distrito Capital, Venezuela: Analítica.com. Archived from the original on 1 August 2015. Retrieved 1 October 2012. 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)."