The Introduction opens with an observation that the last twenty years have witnessed new or lingering demands for statehood in different areas of the world. Even as many of these claims have given rise to major conflicts and international controversies, the criteria for recognition of new states have elicited little systematic scholarship. International lawyers study recognition through the abstract prism of long‐standing debates about its legal theory, and international relations scholars tend to ignore the subject altogether. This book views recognition as an indispensable precondition for a political community's status as a sovereign state in international relations and law. It offers a comprehensive analysis of recognition of new states by investigating its historical practice, employing the classical interpretive approach of the English School. The rest of this chapter outlines the central argument of the book, which ties the past 200 years of state recognition to the idea of self‐determination of peoples.
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