Shoestring Diplomacy: Lobbying and Litigation for Self-Determination
33 Pages Posted: 8 May 2019 Last revised: 29 Dec 2019
Date Written: December 28, 2019
How do self-determination groups and de facto states use diplomacy to advance their international legitimacy? Lacking diplomatic recognition, aspiring states still manage to foster productive relationships with external actors—trading, allying, and partnering to pursue economic, diplomatic, and military objectives. They do this through ad hoc executive visits, participation in international summits, and contact with party leaders, judicial bodies, and other subnational actors in third-party states. To explore the breadth of these diplomatic relations and strategy behind them, I employ original data on five years of diplomatic visits of the representatives of the Polisario Front and Kurdish Regional Government, and I analyze the Polisario case through 11 interviews with foreign ministry representatives. I find: (1) that these governments employ extensive resources to establish a constant presence in third-party states; (2) that they employ their resources strategically based on the domestic characteristics and international positioning of these states; (3) that their diplomatic reach depends in part the kind of appeals they make to external parties.
Keywords: secession, self-determination, separatism, civil war, sovereignty, foreign policy, intervention, diplomacy, legitimacy, Polisario, Western Sahara, Morocco, Kurdistan, Iraq
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