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Denying the Spoils of War

The Politics of Invasion and Non-recognition

Joseph O'Mahoney

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Why do so many states adopt a position of non-recognition of gains from war?

Despite being proven ineffective as a coercive tool or deterrent, the international community has actively withheld recognition in numerous instances of territorial conquest since the 1930s. Joseph O'Mahoney systematically analyses 21 case studies – including the Manchurian Crisis, the Turkish invasion of Cyprus and Russia’s annexation of Crimea – to explore why so many states have adopted a policy of non-recognition of the spoils of war.

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List of Figures and Tables


List of Acronyms and Abbreviations


  1. Rule Maintenance: The Logic of Symbolic Sanctions
  2. The Manchurian Crisis
  3. The Abyssinian Crisis
  4. Turkey, Cyprus and The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus
  5. The Independence of Bangladesh
  6. The Uncertain Fruits of Victory: Variation In Nonrecognition




About the Author

Joseph O’Mahoney is Research Fellow in the Security Studies Program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He previously held positions at Seton Hall University and Brown University.

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