Is Islamic State a State?

Is Islamic State a State?

A good starting point for finding an answer is to establish what constitutes a state. For this, many would invoke the 1933 Montevideo Convention on the Rights and Duties of States, a treaty that sought to define statehood and map out its responsibilities in the modern era. The convention lists four criteria for statehood: a defined territory, a government, a population, and the capacity to enter into relations with other states. Once a political entity fulfills these requirements, it is by definition a state.

The first three preconditions are easy enough to spot. Yet territory, government, people, and the inevitable military forces that arise from therein sets the bar for statehood rather low, bestowing the status on everything from Islamic State to the Donetsk People’s Republic to Kurdish Syria. It is the final criterion – the most subjective one – that places statehood out of their reach: “The capacity to enter into relations with other states.” This clause, depending on how it is interpreted, means that a state has to be recognized as such by other states before it achieves statehood. It casts the international system as an exclusive club, one whose members can refuse entry to an upstart on political grounds.

The Montevideo definition isn’t perfect, but it captures a key aspect of modern statehood: it’s not just a checklist of tangibles that makes a state, there is also an important element of outside validation at work.


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Source: GeoPoliticalMonitor

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