What Happens when States Remain Unrecognised?

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Currently, there are 193 ‘member states’ in the United Nations, with two additional ‘observer states’: Palestine and the Holy See. However, Palestinian statehood is not recognised by over 50 UN member states, and there are several other states that have claimed independence, but have received little or no formal recognition from member states of the UN. This course will provide an introduction to the modern international system that has developed since the formation of the UN in 1945, with a special focus on contested states such as Taiwan, Palestine, Kosovo, Western Sahara, Transnistria, Northern Cyprus, Abkhazia, Artsakh, and South Ossetia.



  • The United Nations and the foundation of the modern international system.
  • New states that have gained international recognition since the fall of the Soviet Union.
  • Other states that have failed to gain full international recognition.

By the end of this course, students should be able to:

  1. Understand the origins of the modern international system.
  2. Appreciate the significance of international recognition.
  3. Comprehend the difficulties faced by states with little or no international recognition.