The Politics of Unrecognised States
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This ESRC-funded project ran from 1 October 2008 to 31 July 2009. This website is no longer maintained, but remains online as an archive of this research.

Dr Nina Caspersen is now Senior Lecturer in Politics at the Univesity of York and can be contacted at

Unrecognised states are the places that do not exist in international relations; they are state-like entities that have achieved de facto independence, but have failed to gain international recognition or are recognised by only a few states. Such statelets are regarded as security threats and as key obstacles to regional stability, but they remain shrouded in mystery and are subject to myths and simplifications. Examples include Somaliland, Northern Cyprus, Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Nagorno Karabakh.

Until recently, these entities represented largely 'forgotten conflicts' but recent events have changed this state of affairs: the Western recognition of Kosovo, the Russian intervention in Georgia and its subsequent unilateral recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia have catapulted these entities onto the centre stage of global politics. Yet we have very little understanding of how they operate; what is the nature of statehood without (external) sovereignty and how does it affect the prospect of peaceful settlements?

This project is being funded by the ESRC under the title ‘The Politics of Unrecognised States: Democratisation, Self-Determination and Contested Identities’ (RES-000-22-2728).

Dr Nina Caspersen (PhD, LSE) is a Lecturer in Peace and Conflict Studies at Lancaster University. Her research focuses on unrecognised states, dynamics of intra-state conflicts and strategies for conflict resolution, primarily in the Balkans and the Caucasus. Articles related to this research have appeared in a number of leading academic journals.