World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

List of states with limited recognition

Article Id: WHEBN0000523670
Reproduction Date:

Title: List of states with limited recognition  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Outline of Africa, Outline of Asia, Outline of political science, Outline of history, Asia
Collection: Lists of Countries, Unrecognized or Largely Unrecognized States
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

List of states with limited recognition

  UN member states, not recognized by at least one other member
  UN non-members recognized by at least one member
  UN non-members recognized by UN non-members only
  UN non-member not recognized by any state

A number of geopolitical entities have declared statehood and have sought recognition as de jure sovereign states with varying degrees of success. In the past, similar entities have existed. As of 2015 there are entities claiming independence, often with de facto control of their territory, with recognition ranging from complete non-recognition to complete recognition by all states.

There are two traditional doctrines that provide indicia of when a de jure sovereign state should be recognised as a member of the international community. The "declarative" theory defines a state as a person in international law if it meets the following criteria:

  1. a defined territory
  2. a permanent population
  3. a government, and
  4. 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 if it is recognised as such by another state that is already a member of the international community.[1]

Several entities 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 complete or partial control over their claimed territory, a government and a permanent population), but their statehood is not recognised by one or more 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 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.

In many situations, international non-recognition is influenced by the presence of a foreign military force in the territory of the presumptive, self-declaring independent entity, so to make problematic the description of the country de facto status. The international community can judge this military presence too intrusive, reducing the entity to a puppet state where effective sovereignty is retained by the foreign power. Historical cases in this sense can be seen in Japanese-led Manchukuo or German-created Slovak Republic and Independent State of Croatia before and during World War II. In the 1996 case Loizidou vs. Turkey, the European Court of Human Rights judged Turkey for having exercised authority in the territory of Northern Cyprus.

There are also entities which do not have control over any territory or do not unequivocally meet the declarative criteria for statehood but have been recognised to exist de jure as sovereign entities by at least one other state. Historically this has happened in the case of the Holy See (1870–1929), the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania (during Soviet annexation), among other cases. See list of governments in exile for unrecognised governments without control over the territory claimed.


  • Criteria for inclusion 1
  • Background 2
  • Present geopolitical entities by level of recognition 3
    • UN member states not recognised by at least one UN member 3.1
    • Non-UN member states recognised by at least one UN member 3.2
    • Non-UN member states recognised only by non-UN members 3.3
    • Non-UN member states not recognised by any state 3.4
  • Excluded entities 4
  • See also 5
  • Notes 6
  • References 7

Criteria for inclusion

Women in Somaliland, wearing the colors of the Somaliland flag.

The criteria for inclusion means a polity must claim sovereignty, lack recognition from at least one UN member state, and either:


Some states do not establish relations with new nations quickly 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 nations 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.[2]

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,[3] Italy,[4] the United States,[5] and the United Kingdom,[6] maintain some form of unofficial mission in the ROC. Kosovo,[7] the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic,[8] Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus,[9] Abkhazia,[10] Transnistria,[10] Sahrawi Republic,[11] Somaliland,[12] and Palestine[13] 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

Name Declared Status Other claimants Further information References
 Republic of Armenia 1991 Armenia, independent since 1991, is not recognised by one UN member, Pakistan, as Pakistan has a position of supporting Azerbaijan since the Nagorno-Karabakh War. None Foreign relations, missions (of, to) [14][15]
 People's Republic of China 1949 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). 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).[16][17] 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).[18][19][20] According to United Nations General Assembly Resolution 2758, the PRC is the only legitimate representative of China to the United Nations.[Note 1]  Republic of China is considered the sole legal government over all of China under the Constitution of the Republic of China. Foreign relations, missions (of, to)
PRC's diplomatic relations dates of establishment
 Republic of Cyprus 1960 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.  Northern Cyprus claims part of the island of Cyprus. Foreign relations, missions (of, to) [22][23][24][25]
 State of Israel 1948 Israel, founded in 1948, is not recognised by [26]  Syria claims Golan Heights. Foreign relations, missions (of, to)
International recognition
1948 North Korea, independent since 1948, is not recognised by two UN members: Japan and South Korea.[32] claims to be the sole legitimate government of Korea. Foreign relations, missions (of, to) [32][33][34]
1948 South Korea, independent since 1948, is not recognised by one UN member, North Korea. claims to be the sole legitimate government of Korea. Foreign relations, missions (of, to) [35][36]

Non-UN member states recognised by at least one UN member

Name Declared Status Other claimants Further information References
1999 Abkhazia declared its independence in 1999.[37] It has been UN member states (Russia, Nicaragua, Venezuela and Nauru, with Tuvalu and Vanuatu recognizing[38][39][40][41][42] but subsequently withdrawing their recognition[43][44][45]), and three UN non-member states (South Ossetia, Transnistria and Nagorno-Karabakh).[46][47] claims Abkhazia as part of its sovereign territory. Foreign relations, missions (of, to)
International recognition
1912[Note 2] 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.[53] claims to be the successor of the former Republic of China and claims all of the territory under ROC jurisdiction as part of its sovereign territory. Foreign relations, missions (of, to)
Political status
2008 Kosovo declared its independence in 2008. It is recognised by 108 UN members and Taiwan. The United Nations, as stipulated in Security Council Resolution 1244, has administered the territory since 1999 through the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo, with cooperation from the European Union since 2008. It is a member of the International Monetary Fund, World Bank Group, Venice Commission, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and the International Olympic Committee, among others. claims Kosovo as part of its sovereign territory. Foreign relations, missions (of, to)
International recognition; Political status
1983 Northern Cyprus declared its independence in 1983. It is recognised by one UN member, United Nations Security Council Resolution 541 defines the declaration of independence of Northern Cyprus as legally invalid.[57] The International Court of Justice stated in its advisory opinion on Kosovo's declaration of independence in 2010 that "the Security Council in an exceptional character attached illegality to the DOI of TRNC because it was, or would have been connected with the unlawful use of force" and "general international law contains no applicable prohibition of declarations of independence".[58] claims Northern Cyprus as part of its sovereign territory. Foreign relations, missions (of, to)
Cyprus dispute
1988 The UNESCO.[65] It was accorded non-member observer state status at the United Nations by United Nations General Assembly resolution 67/19. does not recognise the state of Palestine and controls areas claimed by Palestine.[63] Subject to the ongoing Israeli–Palestinian peace process. Foreign relations, missions (of, to)
International recognition, Political status, Proposals for a Palestinian state
1976 Both the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) and Morocco claim sovereignty over the territory of Western Sahara. The SADR, which declared its independence in 1976, has been recognised by 84 UN member states and is a member state of the African Union. 39 states, however, have since retracted or suspended recognition, pending the outcome of a referendum on self-determination.[85][86] Western Sahara is not recognised as part of Morocco by any state, but some states support the Moroccan autonomy plan. Moroccan "territorial integrity" is favoured by the Arab League. United Nations General Assembly Resolution 34/37 recognised the right of the Western Sahara people to self-determination and recognised also the Polisario Front as the representative of the Western Sahara people.[87] Western Sahara is listed on the United Nations list of Non-Self-Governing Territories. claims Western Sahara as part of its sovereign territory. Foreign relations, missions (of, to)
International recognition; Political status
1991 South Ossetia declared its independence in 1991. It has been UN member states (Russia, Nicaragua, Venezuela and Nauru, with Tuvalu recognizing but subsequently withdrawing their recognition[44][45]), and three UN non-member states (Abkhazia, Nagorno-Karabakh and Transnistria).[46][89] claims South Ossetia as part of its sovereign territory. Foreign relations, missions (of, to)
International recognition

Non-UN member states recognised only by non-UN members

Name Declared Status Other claimants Further information References
1991 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.[89] claims Nagorno-Karabakh as part of its sovereign territory. Foreign relations, missions (of, to)
International recognition, Political status
1990 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. claims Transnistria as part of its sovereign territory. Foreign relations, missions (of, to)
International recognition, Political status

Non-UN member states not recognised by any state

Name Declared Status Other claimants Further information References
1991 Somaliland declared its independence from Somalia in 1991. It regards itself as the successor to the State of Somaliland. It is internationally recognised as an autonomous region of Somalia. claims Somaliland as part of its sovereign territory. Foreign relations, missions (of, to) [90][93]

Excluded entities

  • The Sovereign Military Order of Malta is a non-state sovereign entity and is not included, as it claims neither statehood nor territory.[94][95][96][97][98] It has established full diplomatic relations with 105 sovereign states as a sovereign subject of international law[99] and participates in the United Nations as an observer entity. Although it is not recognised as a subject of international law by France,[100] the order maintains official, but not diplomatic, relations with France and also with five other states: Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, Luxembourg and Canada.[101] Five more states maintain neither and do not recognise its passports: Netherlands, Finland, Sweden, Iceland and Greece.[102]
  • Uncontacted peoples who are claimed by indigenous rights activists to be exercising varying degrees of de facto sovereignty over the areas under their control.
  • 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.
  • Those of the current irredentist movements and governments in exile that do not satisfy the inclusion criteria by simultaneously not satisfying the declarative theory and not having been recognised as state or legitimate government by any other state.

See also


  1. ^ a b Both 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.[52]
  2. ^ Date of constitutional formation.
  3. ^ Micronations are not included even if they are recognised by another micronation.
  4. ^ 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.


  1. ^ Thomas D. Grant, The recognition of states: law and practice in debate and evolution (Westport, Connecticut: Praeger, 1999), chapter 1.
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ U.S. Department of State Websites of U.S. Embassies, Consulates, and Diplomatic Missions Retrieved 2011-02-03
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^ a b
  11. ^ Embassies and representative offices
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^ Pakistan Worldview - Report 21 - Visit to Azerbaijan Senate of Pakistan — Senate foreign relations committee, 2008
  15. ^ Nilufer Bakhtiyar: "For Azerbaijan Pakistan does not recognise Armenia as a country" 13 September 2006 [14:03] - Today.Az
  16. ^ Lee, Meifang "Minister announces resumption of diplomatic ties with Nauru" Taiwan Today 2005-05-20 Retrieved 2011-04-29
  17. ^ "Kiribati president upbeat on conference, Taiwan" Radio Australia 21 June 2010 Retrieved 2011-04-29
  18. ^ Crocombe, Ron Asia in the Pacific Islands: Replacing the West University of the South Pacific. Institute of Pacific Studies 2007 p. 258 Online version available at Google Books
  19. ^ "Looking East: China-Africa Engagements Liberia Case Study" African Center for Economic Transformation, Monrovia December 2009
  20. ^ Chiu, Hungdah "The International Legal Status of the Republic of China (Revised Version)" Occasional Papers/Reprints Series in Contemporary Asian Studies Number 5 - 1992 (112), School of Law, University of Maryland ISBN 0-925153-23-0
  21. ^
  22. ^ European Parliament Directorate-General External Policies Policy Department "Turkey and the problem of the recognition of Cyprus" 20 January 2005 Retrieved 2011-02-03
  23. ^
  24. ^
  25. ^ European Parliament's Committee on Foreign Affairs "The influence of Turkish military forces on political agenda-setting in Turkey, analysed on the basis of the Cyprus question" 18 February 2008 Retrieved 2011-02-03
  26. ^ Kim Murphy. "Israel and PLO, in Historic Bid for Peace, Agree to Mutual Recognition," Los Angeles Times, 10 September 1993
  27. ^
  28. ^
  29. ^
  30. ^
  31. ^
  32. ^ a b
  33. ^
  34. ^
  35. ^
  36. ^
  37. ^
  38. ^
  39. ^ Vanuatu's initial recognition was invalidated after the Kilman government was annulled by the Supreme Court. Kilman was subsequently re-elected and its recognition was re-confirmed by its Foreign Minister in July 2011: Natapei withdraws recognition of Abkhazia, Vanuatu Daily Post, 19 June 2011
  40. ^
  41. ^
  42. ^
  43. ^
  44. ^ a b
  45. ^ a b
  46. ^ a b
  47. ^
  48. ^
  49. ^ a b Russia recognises Georgian rebels - BBC, 2008-08-26 [1]
  50. ^ a b
  51. ^
  52. ^ Taiwan cuts ties with Costa Rica over recognition for China
  53. ^ Bush III, Richard C. "The Role of the United States in Taiwan-PRC Relations", Taiwan: Beyond the Economic Miracle M.E. Sharpe, Inc. ISBN 0-87332-879-5 p. 358 Online version available at Google Books
  54. ^ Global Investment and Business Center, Inc. Staff Taiwan Foreign Policy and National Security Yearbook 2011 Second Edition International Business Publications, USA ISBN 0-7397-3660-4 Online version available at Google Books
  55. ^
  56. ^
  57. ^
  58. ^ [2], International Court of Justice, 2010-07-22, quotes from parag. 81.
  59. ^
  60. ^ a b :"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".
  61. ^
  62. ^ "...the SADR was one of the first countries to recognise the state of Palestine."
  63. ^ a b Israel allows the PNA to execute some functions in the Palestinian territories, depending on special area classification. Israel maintains minimal interference (retaining control of borders: air,[66] sea beyond internal waters,[66][67] land[68]) in the Gaza strip (its interior and Egypt portion of the land border are under Hamas control), maximum in "Area C" and varying degrees of interference elsewhere.[69][70][71][72][73] See also Israeli-occupied territories.
  64. ^
  65. ^
  66. ^ a b
  67. ^ Map of Gaza fishing limits, "security zones"
  68. ^ 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."
  69. ^
  70. ^
  71. ^
  72. ^
  73. ^
  74. ^
  75. ^
  76. ^
  77. ^
  78. ^
  79. ^ Official website of the Palestinian National Authority at the Wayback Machine (archived April 4, 2006). The PNA has publicly acknowledged recognition from 94 states, including the former Yugoslavia.
  80. ^ Venezuela Pledges Support for Palestinian Statehood during Abbas Visit, November 2009.
  81. ^ "Costa Rica Recognizes 'Palestine'", The Journal of Turkish Weekly 26 February 2008 Retrieved 2011-02-07
  82. ^
  83. ^
  84. ^
  85. ^
  86. ^
  87. ^ Resolutions adopted by the General Assembly at its 34th session, United Nations.
  88. ^
  89. ^ a b (Russian) Вице-спикер парламента Абхазии: Выборы в НКР соответствуют всем международным стандартам: "Абхазия, Южная Осетия, НКР и Приднестровье уже давно признали независимость друг друга и очень тесно сотрудничают между собой", - сказал вице-спикер парламента Абхазии. ... "...Абхазия признала независимость Нагорно-Карабахской Республики..." - сказал он." English language translation from Microsoft Translator
  90. ^ a b c
  91. ^ BBC Country Profiles: Regions and territories: Nagorno-Karabakh. Retrieved 2009-09-14.
  92. ^
  93. ^ BBC Country Profiles: Regions and territories: Somaliland. Retrieved 2009-09-14.
  94. ^ English language translation "The Order of Malta, within the limits that are compatible with its actual position as a subject deprived of territory, is in the international community, a sovereign entity on par with the States, and the Prince Grand Master is comparable, from the point of view of international law, to the Heads of State."
  95. ^ Permanent Observer Mission of the Order of Malta to the United Nations in New York "The admission of Order of Malta to the United Nations also further solidified its legally recognized sovereignty ..."
  96. ^ Shaw, Malcolm Nathan International Law Fifth Edition Cambridge University Press 2003 ISBN 0-521-82473-7 p. 218 Searchable text, available via, "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 …)"
  97. ^ "The Senate and Chamber of Deputies of Argentina, in Congress assembled, enact as LAW: Article 1 – The Sovereign Military Order of Malta is hereby recognized as an international independent entity."
  98. ^ 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)."
  99. ^ The Sovereign Military Order of Malta maintains embassies around the world and receives accreditations from foreign ambassadors.
  100. ^
  101. ^
  102. ^ Council of the European Union - Schengen Visa Working Party - Table of travel documents
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.