a capacity to enter into relations with other states.
According to 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 entities 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 and the People's Republic of China, 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.
Some states are slow to establish relations with new states and thus do not recognise them, despite having no dispute and sometimes favorable relations. These are excluded from the list. Some countries fulfill the declarative criteria, are recognised by the large majority of other states and are members of the United Nations, but are included in the list here because one or more other states do not recognise their statehood, due to territorial claims or other conflicts. There are 193 United Nations (UN) member states. The Holy See and the State of Palestine have observer state status in the United Nations.
Some states maintain informal (officially non-diplomatic) relations with states that do not officially recognise them. The Republic of China (Taiwan) is one such state, as it maintains unofficial relations with many other states through its Economic and Cultural Offices, which allow regular consular services. This allows the ROC to have economic relations even with states that do not formally recognise it. A total of 56 states, including Germany, Italy, the United States, and the United Kingdom, maintain some form of unofficial mission in the ROC. Kosovo, the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, Abkhazia, Transnistria, the Sahrawi Republic, Somaliland, and Palestine also host informal diplomatic missions, and/or maintain special delegations or other informal missions abroad.
Present geopolitical entities by level of recognition
UN member states not recognised by at least one UN member state
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 PRC does not accept diplomatic relations with states that recognise the ROC (21 UN members and the Holy See as of 2013). Most of these states do not officially recognise the PRC as a state, though some states have established relations with the ROC while stating they do not intend to stop recognising the PRC (Kiribati, Nauru). Some states which currently recognise only the PRC have attempted simultaneous recognition and relations with the ROC and the PRC in the past (Liberia, Vanuatu). According to United Nations General Assembly Resolution 2758, the PRC is the only legitimate representative of China to the United Nations.[Note 1]
The Republic of China (ROC, usually called Taiwan), constitutionally formed in 1912, is recognised as the government of the state of China by 21 UN members and the Holy See as of 2013. All other UN member states do not officially recognise the ROC as a state; some of them regard its controlled territory as de jure part of the People's Republic of China (PRC) while some others have used careful diplomatic language to avoid taking a position as to whether the territory of the ROC is part of the PRC.[Note 1] Throughout the years, the ROC has adopted differing positions towards simultaneous recognition of the ROC and the PRC by other countries.
Nagorno-Karabakh 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 Nagorno-Karabakh as part of its sovereign territory.
The Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic (also known as Transnistria) declared its independence in 1990. It is recognised by three UN non-members: Abkhazia, Nagorno-Karabakh and South Ossetia, none of which enjoys wide recognition.
Moldova claims Transnistria as part of its sovereign territory.
Somaliland declared its independence from Somalia 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). Somaliland is internationally recognised as an autonomous region of Somalia.
Somalia claims Somaliland as part of its sovereign territory.
Entities considered to be micronations are not included.[Note 3] Even though micronations generally claim to be sovereign and independent, it is often up to debate whether a micronation truly controls its claimed territory.[Note 4] 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 rump states have emerged yet.
^ abBoth 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.
^ 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."
^Shaw, Malcolm Nathan International Law Fifth Edition Cambridge University Press 2003 ISBN 0-521-82473-7 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)."