Unrecognized states: A theory of self-determination and foreign influence

Kristy Buzard, Benjamin A.T. Graham, Ben Horne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Unrecognized states are characterized by stagnant or crumbling economies and political instability, often serve as havens for illicit trade, and challenge the territorial sovereignty of recognized states. Their persistence is both intellectually puzzling and normatively problematic, but unrecognized statehood can be a remarkably stable outcome, persisting for decades. Our dynamic four-player model reveals that unrecognized statehood emerges as an equilibrium outcome when a patron state is willing and able to persistently invest resources to sustain it. We assess options available to actors in the international community who seek to impose their preferred outcomes in these disputes and find that, although sanctions are the most frequently employed, they can often lead to renewed conflict instead of the intended resolution.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)578-611
Number of pages34
JournalJournal of Law, Economics, and Organization
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 1 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
  • Law


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