CUREJ - College Undergraduate Research Electronic Journal

Breakaway States: Understanding When The International Community Recognizes The Legitimacy of Separatist States

Brian Zachary Mund, University of Pennsylvania

Division: Social Sciences

Dept/Program: Political Science

Document Type: Undergraduate Student Research

Mentor(s): Alex Weisiger

Date of this Version: 01 December 2013



This essay focuses on these conditions that result in the extension of international legitimacy, asking the question; “which factors lead external actors to recognize separatist regions as legitimate states?” In particular, the essay hones in on the factors that lead the international community to recognize separatist states despite the seemingly dominant norm of sovereign territorial integrity. In the subsequent analysis, the essay finds that concerns for international stability and systemic order best explain the variation of international recognition among cases. These concerns are manifested through two distinct mechanisms by which secessionists may undermine the international order. First, separatist behavior that defies the expected normative behavior dictated by the current normative system might encourage future violations and eventually wholesale change of the international structure. Second, the separatist unrecognized states create uncertainty by working outside of the expected convention of the international community, which in turn generates systemic instability.


International Relations

Suggested Citation

Mund, Brian Zachary, "Breakaway States: Understanding When The International Community Recognizes The Legitimacy of Separatist States" 01 December 2013. CUREJ: College Undergraduate Research Electronic Journal, University of Pennsylvania,

Date Posted: 03 September 2014




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