As citizens in the 2020s, we have the convenience of living in a time widely known to historians as “the Long Peace.” Things such as territory changes and oddities on the world map seem to be a thing of the past. However, while territory changes the likes of the 1910s, 40s, and 60s are not seen often in this day and age, there are still movements for new countries to be created that have yet to be recognized all around the world. Today, I will be covering five countries that are either not fully recognized, or not recognized at all by the United Nations.
Palestine: The most well-known example is the nation of Palestine. In 1948 the Jewish state, Israel, declared independence in the area previously referred to as Palestine. Issues arose immediately both internally and from neighboring powers concerning the validity of a new state in this traditionally Islamic land. Many of the Arabs living in this part of the world have been pushing for independence for a new state of Palestine and plans to create a border agreement between Israel and the growing movement are being tossed around all the time. As it stands right now, Palestine is recognized as a Non-Member with Observer status, meaning that they can send representatives to the United Nations, however they are not able to vote.
Taiwan: This one comes as a surprise to many people. Yes, Taiwan is not an officially recognized nation. In fact, only 16 member states of the UN (of 193) have declared it to be its own state. So why is this? During the Chinese Civil War, Mao Zedong’s Communist Party of China ran the standing government off of the mainland and to the nearby island of Taiwan in 1949. It has operated there ever since. Due to the United States’ increasing pressure on communism in the latter half of the 20th century, Communist China never invaded Taiwan, however, it does claim to be the rightful ruler to the island, as does the Taiwanese government in reference to the mainland.
Kosovo: The history of the Balkan peninsula is riddled with instability and separation, including but not limited to the events that started the First World War. The newest development in the fragmented history of this region is Kosovo, who declared its independence from Serbia in 2008. Kosovo is the closest of the non-member states to receiving recognition, with 109 countries backing it up (Complete list of recognized nations here: https://www.un.org/en/member-states/). However, without receiving validation from Russia, one of the five permanent security council members (along with the United States, China, France, and The United Kingdom), full recognition will be hard to acquire. As it stands now, they operate as an independent province of Serbia.
The Vatican: The Vatican is the only nation on this list who is a non-member state by choice. While they operate as a fully independent country from the rest of Italy, with its own postal service, government, legal system, and even military known as the Swiss Guard, they only wish to be an observer state in the United Nations because the Pope has seen it as his duty to influence religious affairs and not directly affect international policy and legislation. http://www.vatican.va/content/vatican/en.html
Sealand: In 1967, Roy Bates sailed his boat to an abandoned gunner platform 13km off the coast of the United Kingdom. He declared the platform to be the independent Principality of Sealand and announced himself as its ruler. The British Navy came out to retrieve him and was met with gunfire. He was brought to court for firearm-related charges but was acquitted due to the fact that British Territory technically ended 3km off the coast, strengthening Bates’ argument that the soldiers were in his sovereign waters. No current UN member states recognize the Principality of Sealand, however, you are able to receive an official royal title from the country if you visit their website. https://www.sealandgov.org/about/
These are just a few of the many unrecognized countries of the world. What others do you think we should write about in the future? Please leave your suggestions!