Within the growing literature on de facto states and disputed territories, the parastate stands as the most contentious challenge to international sovereignty and one of the greatest threats to regional security. Parastates are territorial entities that have unilaterally declared independence and control territory claimed by another state. Though parastates have been a part of international studies since the 1960s, the collapse of the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia have produced a number of breakaway entities that have challenged existing understandings of state theory and security studies. Without full legal international recognition, the de facto statehood of parastates cannot transform into de jure sovereignty. This special section introduces our collaborative project on the nature, scope, orientation, and character of parastates; a small, select, and particularly problematic subunit of the de facto state family. Though many of these examples should be familiar to researchers of disputed territories, we feel some that have been previously categorized as de facto, contested, or even unrecognized states are better understood as parastates due to the indefinite frozen conflict they find themselves in for years, if not decades.
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