Continuous Recognition: A Latent Variable Approach to Measuring International Sovereignty of Self-Determination Movements
31 Pages Posted: 29 Apr 2018 Last revised: 12 Feb 2019
Date Written: February 10, 2019
How do self-determination groups move toward diplomatic recognition? Although diplomatic recognition is the dominant conceptualization of international sovereignty, it is often the last and most difficult step in a long process. Even when third parties do not confer legal recognition, they may still have decades of interactions with aspiring state actors, tacitly recognizing them by other important means: transfers of aid, military cooperation, advocacy in the UN, and even the establishment of permanent channels of diplomatic exchange. In this paper, I argue that our understanding of the evolution of international sovereignty can be improved by conceptualizing recognition as a continuous process that also includes foreign policy decisions short of the legal admission into the exclusive club of nation-states. To develop this framework, I create a Bayesian hierarchical latent variable model of third-party recognition, using bilateral data on diplomatic exchange, IGO voting, sanctions, military aid, and intervention in separatist conflicts. Complementing prior work on international sovereignty, my measure provides support for important theoretical expectations previously explored using only diplomatic recognition. I find: (1) that extant violence in separatist conflicts is associated with higher levels of third-party recognition; (2) that international conflict impacts third-party recognition; and (3) that diplomatic recognition has downstream effects on other latent forms of recognition.
Keywords: secession, self-determination, separatism, civil war, sovereignty, foreign policy, intervention, rebel diplomacy, legitimacy, latent variable models, Bayesian hierarchical models
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