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Book description

From Kurdistan to Somaliland, Xinjiang to South Yemen, all secessionist movements hope to secure newly independent states of their own. Most will not prevail. The existing scholarly wisdom provides one explanation for success, based on authority and control within the nascent states. With the aid of an expansive new dataset and detailed case studies, this book provides an alternative account. It argues that the strongest members of the international community have a decisive influence over whether today's secessionists become countries tomorrow and that, most often, their support is conditioned on parochial political considerations.


'Bridget Coggins explores the conditions under which new states are recognized by the rest of the international system, particularly by the Great Powers. She examines the conditions under which some secessionist movements are accepted as states by the rest of the world, while others are not. This is an intensely political question, fundamental to international relations. Coggins’ impressive quantitative analyses employ an entirely new dataset of all secessionist movements over the bulk of the twentieth century. It is also the first dataset to code which secessions are recognized as sovereign by which Great Powers. The case studies are expertly chosen to provide both within-case and cross-case variation, executed specifically to complement the quantitative general findings with plausibility probes of the causal logic central to the theory. This is a terrific book sure to be used by many subsequent scholars.'

Douglas Lemke - Pennsylvania State University

'Bridget Coggins has written an admirably clear and rigorously designed and executed study of the birth of states from an international relations perspective. Coggins’ argument stresses the decisive role of the international environment, especially the choices made by the Great Powers, in determining the outcome of a movement’s struggle for recognition. She details that Great Powers’ recognition decisions are based on their own security concerns, on how recognition plays in their own domestic politics, and on their collective view of how recognition would affect the overall stability of international politics, especially Great Power relations. This is a very well-written book on an important, indeed foundational, yet underexplored topic in international relations.'

Jack L. Snyder - Columbia University, New York

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