Entities that Can Be States But Do Not Claim to Be
44 Pages Posted: 13 Sep 2011 Last revised: 15 Apr 2015
Date Written: September 12, 2011
This article concerns quasi-states, namely territorial entities that operate in an effective manner similar to that of states, but do not claim to be states. As a consequence, they may be exempt, wholly or partly, from the obligations and constraints which international law places on states. This places a strain on the international legal system, particularly if the exemption from or commitment to the law applicable to states appears to hinge on the quasi-state’s own discretion (namely the political choice not to declare statehood).
The article considers some of the challenges resulting from quasi-states’ maintenance of non-state status, and queries whether the international community can respond to this challenge by apprehending quasi-states into the legal regime applicable to states, when no claim to statehood is made by the quasi-state. It considers possible triggers for such capture, as well as the question whether statehood is an all-or-nothing concept or one which can be applied in part.
The article rejects the notion of imposing statehood contrary to the quasi-state’s choice, on both normative and practical grounds. It proposes that acts of a quasi-state in the realm reserved to states can, in some exceptional situations, serve as implicit claims of statehood which can allow lawful recognition of statehood. It also highlights the normative and practical challenges to adopting the statehood-for-a-limited-purpose approach.
Keywords: Quasi-states, non-state actors, statehood, use of force, functional approach
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