The PKK’s zig-zag in its global quest for recognition
in Armed non-state actors and the politics of recognition
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When it comes to granting or revoking recognition of domestic groups, governments are the principal actors. However, actors of world politics – such as international organisations (IOs) – have steadily gained in relevance in these recognition processes of intra-state groups. They can play a decisive role in the recognition or non-recognition of an armed non-state actor (ANSA), thus influencing the conflict outcome. Studies considering the world political system in recognition processes have mostly analysed them from a top-down perspective, focusing on separatist movements which are somehow dependent on the recognition of the world political system. ANSAs are surprisingly often conceptualised as passive agents – only ‘receiving’ recognition but not actively striving for it.

In this chapter, it is argued, first, that ANSAs are, indeed, active agents who lobby actively for their recognition on the world political level along global norms. Secondly, the chapter shows that (non-) recognition is a dynamic process and that it is subject to constant transformation. Actors of the world political system might revoke their recognition, while ANSAs might change whom they are addressing. The chapter aims to analyse the triangular relationship between ANSAs, governments and actors of the world political system regarding processes of (non-)recognition. The case of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (Partiya Karkerên Kurdistanê, PKK) and its struggle for recognition on the world political level serves as a case in point. The study sheds light on (i) the way in which ANSAs actively seek recognition from different international actors; and (ii) how IOs influence intra-state conflicts through their recognition practice.

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