'DeFacto' will, through surveys, fieldwork and expert interviews address three overarching questions:
De facto states - states that have failed to win international recognition - have long been understudied 'blank spots,' overlooked in academic literature and on maps. However, they play critical and contentious roles in international politics: Since the end of the Cold War, de facto states have been involved in a disproportionately large number of violent conflicts, resulting in their establishment, change of status, or elimination. Achieving a better understanding of the dynamics of de facto state politics is, therefore, crucial.
Almost all de facto states that survive for some time have a powerful 'patron' that provides security guarantees and economic support. Too often this has resulted in the de facto states simply being brushed off as hapless pawns in their patron's power play. In 'DeFacto' we challenge this assumption, examining what room de facto states have for independent agency.
We want to shift the research focus from (the lack of) conflict resolution to the factors that perpetuate the status quo, developing a new model for understanding patron-client relations. In particular, we are interested in exploring the role of domestic constituencies in serving as both a constraint and a resource that leaders of de facto states can mobilize in negotiations with the patron. The study will cover all eight existing de facto states that have a patron: Abkhazia, Donetsk, Luhansk, Nagorno-Karabakh, Northern Cyprus, South Ossetia, Taiwan and Transnistria. Further, we include the only two cases of failed post-Cold War de facto states that had a patron: Srpska Krajina and Republika Srpska.
External project resources:
The World Stage takes a closer look at Abkhazia, a de facto state in Southern Caucasus, and focus on its efforts to secure diplomatic ties in the post-Soviet space and beyond, as well as its relationship with its patron state, Russia.
Kristin Bakke, Peace Research Institute Oslo (Institutt for Fredsforskning)
Nina Caspersen, University of York
Pål Kolstø, University of Oslo
Eiki Berg, Tartu University
Magdalena Dembinska, Université de Montréal
Daria Isachenko, Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik
Sergei Markedonov, MGIMO
Donnacha Ó Beacháin, Dublin City University
John O’Loughlin, University of Colorado
Scott Pegg, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis
Gerard Toal, Virginia Tech
Galina Yemelianova, SOAS Centre of Contemporary Central Asia & the Caucasus
DeFacto publications from our external partners:
Reclaiming Statehood in Republika Srpska: The Recent Outcomes of Dodik’s Protracted Politics, Sophie Gueudet, University of York, March 2022
Holding Back or Pushing Forward? Patron-Client Relations and Elite Navigations in Northern Cyprus, Eiki Berg and İzzet Yalin Yüksel, July 2022.
What’s in a name? “De facto states”, terminological choices, and normative consequences, Pål Kolstø, University of Oslo, August 2022.
Abkhazia’s contested status is a source of geopolitical conflict between states and alliances. But how has the campaign to expand this unrecognised state’s network of diplomatic contacts been conducted?
Last autumn, in a matter of weeks, the Nagorno-Karabakh Armenians lost two-thirds of the territory they had controlled since 1994. In the end, only Russian intervention stopped a full reabsorption of Nagorno-Karabakh into Azerbaijan. How has this affected regional power constellations?
Sovereignty conflicts are inevitably linked to geography. Can there be geographical solutions to secessionist conflicts, which are caught between two principles at cross purposes: the principle of self-determination (defended by de facto states) and the principle of territorial integrity (defended by parent states)?