Democratization of Unrecognized States: A Comparative Study




Ulas, Hilmi

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



The question of how to effectively and peacefully resolve conflicts involving unrecognized states, which pose significant regional security challenges despite their small territorial areas, has been frequently asked since the Kosovar independence and the Ossetian War of 2008. Central to the behavior of unrecognized states in conflicts is their political systems, for many unrecognized states, having emerged from an ethno-nationalist conflict, institutionalize ethnic nationalism and politicize an ethnic identity to galvanize local support for the fledgling state as well as the war heroes that emerged. These war heroes then tend to cultivate their political capital through ethno-nationalist manipulation and mobilization. Much of the literature has already asserted that unrecognized states cannot democratize – at least not fully. Instead, they become ethnocracies or titular democracies, serving a single ethnic group (the founding, titular one) over any others. However, this literature has provided no empirical evidence to any such assertion. This dissertation takes up the challenge of discovering how and why unrecognized states democratize.



International relations, Regional studies, Democratization, Eastern Mediterranean, Horn of Africa, Security Studies, South China Sea, Unrecognized States