Kurdistan, the international recognition regime and the strategy of secession

Research output: Chapter in Book/Entry/PoemChapter

2 Scopus citations


How does a breakaway region become an internationally recognized sovereign state? This is an important question for aspiring nations. In this chapter, I describe the international recognition regime, a collection of evolving norms, rules and practices that shape the strategies of secessionist movements, driving some to choose armed rebellion while others prefer civil resistance or the pursuit of independence referenda. I argue that secessionist movements deploy their assets and make normative appeals in different combinations depending on local conditions such as regime type, the strength of the state and the degree to which the region is de facto independent. These efforts are aimed at not only the central government, but also the international community that can apply pressure on the central government to negotiate with the breakaway region. I develop a typology of different strategic types - Decolonial, Indigenous Legal, Democratized, De Facto, Strong Combative, Weak Combative - and I outline the perils and possibilities inherent in each type. I contend that the independence effort in Iraqi Kurdistan combines elements of the Democratized, De Facto, and Strong Combative types, and I discuss the implications for the Kurds, the Iraqi government and the international community.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationFederalism, Secession, and International Recognition Regime
Subtitle of host publicationIraqi Kurdistan
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9780429827662
ISBN (Print)9781138328815
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


Dive into the research topics of 'Kurdistan, the international recognition regime and the strategy of secession'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this