Why the International Community Should Be More Accommodating to De Facto States



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PONARS Eurasia


De facto states are notorious for their pariah status, constant security deficit, and embryonic institutions, producing the perception that they are states-in-the-making perpetually striving for sheer survival. Their reliance on a patron is considered proof that they would not be viable states and thus are incapable of having independent agency. Without the freedom of choice, these entities lack deliberate will for action, and without capacity to do, they can hardly be in a position of exerting power. A focus on agency allows us to ask how far and in what ways these unrecognized entities have been able to act in the international system. We demonstrate that, despite their limited capacity, de facto states do display some agency, and that their foreign policy choices are sometimes not remarkably different from recognized small states or micro-states. Even imperfect agency may bring relief for local policymakers who are supposed to alleviate anarchy and chaos in their daily practices. The international community, we argue, should thus be more accommodating to de facto states; if their agency is continuously denied, they will be both increasingly reliant on their patron and separated from the international community.



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