Chicago Journal of International Law

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This Essay addresses the relationship between democracy and statehood. The two concepts have been linked since the 1990s, when new entities claiming statehood were expected to have constituted themselves on a democratic basis and to have put in place democratic government structures to be recognized by the international community. Yet, as Professor Tom Ginsburg’s book Democracies and International Law reveals, the rise of autocracies and a general backlash against democracy in the last three decades have led to changes in countries’ behavior. This Essay argues that today, the requirement of democratic process and institutions for international recognition is less stringent. Even more, it posits that if autocracies team up to recognize other similarly non-democratic entities, democracy might play no role in the formation of new states in the long run. In this regard, Democracies and International Law may signal an end to the 1990s European approach to recognition and be an indication of a new reality in the area of statehood.

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