Talk:List of sovereign states/Discussion of criteria/Archive 1

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Inclusion criteria change[edit]

related discussions: here and here.

Currently the criteria in the article are the following:


The list is divided into two parts.

  • The internationally recognized sovereign states section lists all 193 widely recognised sovereign states, including all member states of the United Nations, and Vatican City.
  • The other states section lists ten states which have de facto sovereignty or independence, but are not widely recognised diplomatically by other states.

The "other states" section also has the following note: "This annex lists states that claim sovereignty and have control over (part of) their claimed territories, but due to disputes over their legitimacy, do not have normal diplomatic relations with the majority of sovereign states. None of the states in this annex list are UN member states. Entities considered to be micronations are not included."


The criteria as they stand, state: "if widely recognized - section1; if not - section2". The only thing, that can be considered as criteria for "widely" is the text "including all member states of the United Nations, and Vatican City." - so we get to the "UN requirement" issue. This is a list of sovereign states, not a list of UN members/observers/whatever. We have many examples from the recent past of independent states that were neither UN members nor UN observers (see the second related discussion - Andorra, Liechtenstein, Micronesia, Kiribati, etc. - some of these up to 2000). And if we apply UN requirement for inclusion this compromises the meaning of the list itself. (the first related discussion contains additional explanations why having UN-requirement is not a good option)

If we stick to this definitions (and somehow lessen the UN-wording so that it does not constitute a requirement) - then we have to take the 'quantity' route, then we have do define a number-limits for the recognition-levels ("widely" and "other"). Putting such limits is very arbitrary. But it is also prone to assumptions and thus disagreements, disputes, etc. if it has to include undeclared part (states that have not issued statement in either way - recognition or non-recognition). If it has to include only declared part - it will have the same drawbacks (as we see in the second related discussion) - even the declared part is subject to interpretations, assumptions, disagreement and dispute (see second related discussion). Problematic example - Nauru. It has declared recognition of ~33%. It has joined the UN by acclamation (no individual voting). North Korea has joined by acclamation too, but is declared non-recognised by Japan and South Korea. So there is no way to tell the undeclared recognition/non-recognition numbers even for UN members. (see second related discussion)

That is why I proposed the change in the definitions, that would base them on 'quality' criteria, that are not so arbitrary and much more verifiable:


The list is divided into two parts.

  • The internationally recognized sovereign states section lists:
    • the widely recognized states, whose independence or sovereignty are undisputed by another states (187 in total)
    • the mostly recognized states, whose independence or sovereignty is disputed and not recognized by another state, but there are no claims against the state as a whole, or such occupation (8 in total)
  • The other states section lists:
    • the states (unless they are a member of the United Nations and thus belonging to the above group), whose whole territory, independence or sovereignty is claimed as its own or occupied by another state (10 in total)

Thus there would be widely/mostly/other "recognition levels" (with the appropriate notes in the extant sections of the entries)

  • for the middle level I put "mostly" as "general" was considered inappropriate (same as "wide"). Other options not selected (?): "substantial", "significant", "broadly". Other options: .... ???
  • The "unless a UN" note was structured as a "bonus/wavier" instead of "requirement". In almost all cases (besides South Korea and North Korea) it would not be invoked at all.

I hope this would make the criteria objective and easily verifiable. Alinor (talk) 17:28, 2 August 2010 (UTC)

This is the same criteria as you proposed above, and the general response was that it didn't make much sense. There are several problems using the existance of territorial disputes as the sole criteria to classify a state as "mostly recognized".
For one, I don't see how calling UN membership a "waiver" as opposed to a "criteria" changes anything. We could just as well format the inclusion criteria to state that the main list is all UN members, with a waiver for those non-member states which have no territorial disputes. Call one the criteria and the other the waiver, it doesn't change the fact that both are sufficient (but not necessairy) critiera for inclusion in the main list. Your choice of wording doesn't lessen the UN membership criteria at all. All you've accomplished is including any non-member state which does not have a territorial dispute to the main list (which seems to be your goal).
Also, this takes a very simplistic view on how sovereign states are born. Your criteria states that the only requirement to be clasified as "mostly recognized" is that there are no territorial disputes. So, as soon as NZ recognizes the CI then they belong in the main list. However, if no other states recognizes the CI as sovereign, are they really "mostly recognized"? Clearly not. Other states need to recognize that they are indeed sovereign. The reason states choose not to recognize an aspirant state, be it a territorial dispute or a different interpretation of the constitutional status, is irrelavant. Either they recognize or they don't. Your criteria in theory allows for a state which is only recognized by a single state (the former sovereign) to be included in the main list, despite nonrecognition by every other state. Clearly such a state would not be "mostly recognized". As I stated previously, the inclusion criteria needs to be verifiable and justifiable. Unless you can provide a justification for why "mostly recognized"="no territoial disputes", then the above criteria doesn't make any sense.
I suggested using UN members+non-member observers+non-member non-observers as the criteria for the main list as I believe this is a good proxy for "widely recognized" and is completely verifiable. Including the "non-member non-obersvers" eliminates your concern over "the recent past of independent states that were neither UN members nor UN observers", since even if a state was a non-observer of the UN they would still be recognized as a non-member state (as CI/Niue are now). See for example [1] from 1997 where Kiribati, Nauru, Tonga and Tuvalu (plus observes Switzerland and Vatican City) are all listed as UN non-member states. And I don't see how this would compromise the list. We aren't using UN membership to decide which states to include on the list, just how to sort the states. States which aren't considered to be sovereign by the UN (such as ROC) would still be included in the "Other states" section. As you pointed out above, we alreay use UN members+non-member observers as the criteria for the main list.
That being said, if others have a better idea I'm open to that. However, the criteria should be specific enough that we don't have to engage in all this OR to decide who satisfies the criteria and who doesn't. TDL ::(talk) 20:03, 2 August 2010 (UTC)
The problem with that is that it is possible that a nation could be recognized by every country except for one of the security council members and still not be on the list. The UN itself states that it has no authority to recognize what is a soveriegn state or not. For example it is likely that in the future Kosovo will be recognized by a majority of states, yet i doubt it will be included on that un page because of objections from russia.XavierGreen (talk) 20:48, 2 August 2010 (UTC)
Is it just me or does simply removing the note from the other states definition solve everything? That leaves just:
"The other states section lists ten states which have de facto sovereignty or independence, but are not widely recognised diplomatically by other states."
Which would I think allow CI/Niue in. Chipmunkdavis (talk) 22:11, 2 August 2010 (UTC)
Im fine with that.XavierGreen (talk) 22:54, 2 August 2010 (UTC)
Well what's the definition of widely? That requires a ratio to be set. Don't forget that the State of Palestine currently enjoys somewhere between 55–75% of UN members' recognition. I don't see what was wrong with the criteria "UN membership or universal recognition" for the first section. Somebody claimed that the Holy See was not universally recognised, but I haven't seen any proof. Night w (talk) 04:03, 3 August 2010 (UTC)
I agree with Night w - this will not change the need for defining "widely".
About 'universal' recognition - yes, many of the UN members/observers don't have diplomatic relations and/or recognition by the rest of the UN members/observers. I haven't seen proof of a state declaring non-recognition of Vatican (as South Korea opposes North Korea), and I don't expect that there are such cases (even having in mind the "specifics" of Holy See/Vatican City sovereignty), but there are states that have not declared its recognition either. In short - there are undeclared states (I assume that all of these are undeclared recognizers - but somebody elese can assume the opposite). And not only for the Vatican - this is common situation for many states. Alinor (talk) 08:11, 3 August 2010 (UTC)
TDL, the proposal doesn't have "mostly recognized"="no territoial disputes", but "recongition level2 = no claims/occupation against/of the state as a whole. sovereignty disputed/non-recognized" (as I said - the names of the recognition levels are very provisional). Territorial disputes over parts of the territory, even big ones, is possible for all recogntiion-levels. As there are many examples of such disputes - even between 'universally' (as far as possible) recognized states with otherwise 'friendly' relations.
You also imply that "mostly" should have some numerical meaning, beyond the sovereignty recognition/dispute. Maybe we should entirely abandon these widely/mostly adjectives, just as we don't use them in the "other states" section. Then the extants would have "United Nations member", "United Nations observer", "Sovereignty disputed by XXX/nn-states", etc. - and don't make judgments (assumptions) for "widely/mostly/substantial/general/limited/etc." recognitions. What do you think?
TDL, my goal is to have objective and verifiable criteria. I understand why you find it CI/Niue-focused, but this is just because of the big discussion above. And of course this discussion was catalyst for the proposal here - but as you see the roots of the criteria-definition problem are much deeper. If you have better proposals that solve the problems described - I would be glad to see them (wherever a particular country goes).
If we add, as you propose, non-member non-observer UN-recognized states to the list (currently the only such are CI/Niue as you say) - this will satisfy my alleged CI/Niue-goal, but I don't find this a good solution - as it again relies on UN-sanctioned criteria (OK, the most lenient one - non-member-non-observer, but nevertheless a UN-focused criteria). Yes, it would be an improvement over current situation, but not so big. Alinor (talk) 08:11, 3 August 2010 (UTC)

I'm having difficulty coming up with a division we could use which would be both verifiable and NPOV. Alinor's proposed definition and the definition we use currently are both unverifiable (Quick: Find a reliable source which tells you which states are recognized by Bhutan) and TDL's UN-based proposal wouldn't be neutral. Maybe we should consider merging the two sections. Orange Tuesday (talk) 05:50, 3 August 2010 (UTC)

I tried to make it verifiable, by removing the need to check who is recognized by Bhutan and similar cases. Maybe if we also remove the widely/mostly adjectives and leave only the 'qualities'-description (as proposed in my response to TDL above)?
I find your proposal to merge the whole list into a single section (eg. no sections at all - just a "list of sovereign states", with the specifics mentioned in the extants) as very interesting. This would purify the list from arbitrary classifications, etc. Any sub-grouping will be left for the bottom section what lists "one state: such and such, two states: such and such, 111 states: such and such, etc." Alinor (talk) 08:11, 3 August 2010 (UTC)
I think we might struggle with complaints about the equal listing of, say, South Ossetia and Georgia. Whilst this discussion has been refreshingly non-partisan, we also want to save headaches for when the trolls do come. On a more pragmatic note, there is a significant difference between how say, Hungary operates and is seen in the world and Somaliland. Our inability to adequately express this distinction shouldn't be a reason for ignoring it.
As far as I see it, the status of being a UN member (or VC) is not sufficient to be an 'official' fully sovereign state but has become over time enough of a proxy measure to deserve being treated as such.
One simple thing - why not move the criteria for inclusion back up to the top of the page? --Pretty Green (talk) 08:21, 3 August 2010 (UTC)
I also object to the combining of the list. I'm afraid of the huge complaints that'll come, and also I'm not up for changing something just because we can't figure out how to define it now. There is a clear difference between the two lists, and anyone can see that.
The UN has decided that 2/3 recognition means that the country can be accepted into a group of equals (barring perhaps a security council veto, which hasn't happened yet, so we can't hypothesize. This means all the countries currently in the list have obtained that (through vote or simply general acclaim). The Holy See's website states it has diplomatic relations with 176ish states, plus extras like the EU. Additionally, as a state it has retained its sovereignty since 1922, and I don't think there is any doubt of its statehood (none I could find from a quick google search too). I believe the most supported country in the second category is Palestine, with less than 100, and the least supported from the first category is the PRC, with 23 recognizers of the ROC.
As it stands, there is a huge difference between the two lists. Combining them will solve nothing. Chipmunkdavis (talk) 08:44, 3 August 2010 (UTC)
Yes, of course Somaliland/etc. are different from Hungary/etc. These differences would be mentioned in the extant sections of the entries themselfs. Of course it is debatable what is the better solution - to have separate lists (by some criteria) or to have a simple list (without classifications - only the basic statehood criteria would apply, as currently) with the appropriate extant notes. Alinor (talk) 14:09, 3 August 2010 (UTC)
Okay, we need to be really specific about our language here. Recognition and UN membership are not directly linked, and acceptance into the United Nations does not necessarily imply recognition by all or even most of its members. If we want to base the list on UN membership, we can base it on UN membership, but we need to be explicit about our criteria in that case. Likewise, diplomatic relations and recognition of sovereignty are not directly linked and a country which has diplomatic relations with another state does not necessarily recognize it as sovereign. We can base the list on diplomatic recognition, but again, we need to be explicit if that is what we are doing. Using "recognition" as a catch-all term for any sort of vaguely defined acceptance into the international community is not encyclopedic. Orange Tuesday (talk) 15:11, 3 August 2010 (UTC)
Hmm, I generally agree. The only think that bothers me is that I haven't seen a case where a state has direct diplomatic relations with another state and simultaneously does not recognize its sovereignty. Diplomatic relations are between equals ... Alinor (talk) 19:07, 3 August 2010 (UTC)
About Vatican. PRC has made some reservation about applicability of vienna conventions to the Holy See nuncios. As not exactly a direct non-recognition this is very near to it (also having in mind that Holy See has relations with RoC instead of PRC - so we have no relations+diplomatic reservation ...) Alinor (talk) 20:20, 3 August 2010 (UTC)

no adjectives proposal[edit]


The list is divided into two parts.

  • The internationally recognized sovereign states section lists:
    • states, whose independence or sovereignty are undisputed by another states (187 in total), and
    • states, whose independence or sovereignty is disputed and not recognized by another state, but there are no claims against the state as a whole, or such occupation (8 in total)
  • The other states section lists:
    • states (unless they are a member of the United Nations and thus belonging to the above group), whose whole territory, independence or sovereignty is claimed as its own or occupied by another state (10 in total)

To abandon the "widely/mostly/limited" adjectives, just as we don't use such currently in the "other states" section. Then the extants would have "United Nations member", "United Nations observer", "Sovereignty disputed by XXX/nn-states", etc. - and we will not have to make judgments/assumptions if recognitions are "widely/mostly/substantial/general/limited/etc." Alinor (talk) 14:09, 3 August 2010 (UTC)

Nifty as it appears, it has exactly the same problems. We'd have to debate what a claim against the state as a whole is, and perhaps even occupation/occupied.Chipmunkdavis (talk) 14:26, 3 August 2010 (UTC)
Well the wording isn't quite there, but I think the core idea is manageable. We define 203 entities as states (205 if we eventually include CI/Niue), and of those 203/5, 13 are claimed by another state: Abkhazia (by Georgia), The People's Republic of China (by the Republic of China), The Republic of China (by the People's Republic of China), North Korea (by South Korea), South Korea (by North Korea), Kosovo (by Serbia), Mongolia (by the Republic of China), Nagorno-Karabakh (by Azerbaijan), Northern Cyprus (by Cyprus), The Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (by Morocco), Somaliland (by Somalia), South Ossetia (by Georgia), Transnistria (by Moldova). Those disputes aren't exactly, er, disputed. Like, it's fairly unambiguous that Somalia claims sovereignty over Somaliland. What Alinor is proposing (I think) is that we take those states and filter out the 4 UN Members (PRC, the Koreas, and Mongolia). That leaves us with 9 states, all of which are currently on the "Other States" list, without having to try to define what makes recognition "wide" and so forth.
The difficult case (and there always has to be one) is Palestine, which isn't exactly claimed by Israel. I'm guessing that's why Alinor included the occupation note in there. I think that specific wording invites too many problems but something on this model could end up being more verifiable than the current division. Orange Tuesday (talk) 15:51, 3 August 2010 (UTC)
Why not simply: states that, unless members of the UN, have been explicitly not recognised by another state? Night w (talk) 15:56, 3 August 2010 (UTC)
If we had been composing this list in 1990 that definition would have excluded Liechtenstein. I think it makes more sense to talk about whether or not a state is claimed by another state. Orange Tuesday (talk) 16:03, 3 August 2010 (UTC)
Why? How is that different, in this particular application, from a plain statement of non-recognition? Night w (talk) 16:24, 3 August 2010 (UTC)
Well for example let's say Armenia wasn't a member of the UN. Would we really consider it an "other state" just because it wasn't recognized by Pakistan? That's a really low bar for excluding a state from the main list. Orange Tuesday (talk) 16:34, 3 August 2010 (UTC)
And if South Korea wasn't a member of the UN? Night w (talk) 16:45, 3 August 2010 (UTC)
Good point. Okay, so if this definition doesn't work either than I guess I'm back to the same problem I had above, which that I don't really see any way of splitting the list that's both NPOV and WP:V. Orange Tuesday (talk) 17:46, 3 August 2010 (UTC)
I agree.
About South Korea. If it weren't UN member according to these criteria it would go to "other states" and this seems inappropriate, yes.
Also, we have such historical example - PRC before 1970 - it wasn't UN member and was claimed by RoC, a UN member. According to these criteria it would go to "other states". In the 1950s and 1960s, would this seem so inappropriate?
Also, we have such expected future case - Kosovo - as it is claimed by Serbia, until it gets UN membership according to these criteria it would stay in "other states".
So far we have four options: not changing the current criteria (all problems described here - no clear definitions, undefined numerical limits, verifiability vs. assumption, etc.), using the proposed here criteria (the drawback of the above PRC/SK example), using some other criteria (any ideas?), merging the list into one single section (someone pointed that this would be a target for Georgia-Abkhazia edit wars. I'm not so sure about this, but anyway, that's the drawback). Alinor (talk) 19:31, 3 August 2010 (UTC)
I think not including the PRC before 1970 wouldn't be that problematic. As for Kosovo, WP:FUTURE.
Why don't we just get the main list of countries from a reputable source? Such as the Times Atlas or something. Then all states not recognized there could go into the second list? Chipmunkdavis (talk) 23:10, 3 August 2010 (UTC)
Which reputable source would we use? There's no agreement on a standard list. Orange Tuesday (talk) 03:15, 4 August 2010 (UTC)
Well I guess we could compile a list of sources and see what they say. Chipmunkdavis (talk) 04:22, 4 August 2010 (UTC)
So, as PRC non-inclusion before 1970 wouldn't be problematic - why should we expect that other such non-inclusions would be problematic? (expect/assume - because all such cases are hypothetical in this moment). Alinor (talk) 09:22, 4 August 2010 (UTC)
But, as I've tried to make the point above, wouldn't expanding our definition from simply UN Members to UN Members + Non-Members (either Observers or Non-Observers) eliminate the Liechtenstein/Armenia/South Korea issue discussed above? Presumably they would have been considered non-member states if they weren't members. I don't understand the argument that some have made that my proposal is not neutral, when every proposal has relied on UN membership at some level (either directly or as a waiver). Including the non-members is more neutral, since clearly actually joining the UN isn't necessairy to be a sovereign state. But being treated as a sovereign state by the UN is a good indication of sovereignty.
So, my proposal is a modified version of Night's above:
  • "States that, unless a member or non-member state of the UN, have been explicitly not recognised by another state.
I prefer using recognition as opposed to territorial claims as I discussed above, since even if an aspirant state settles their dispute with their former soverign, they still need to be accepted by the international community. For example, Alaska could claim to be sovereign tomorrow, and the USA could recognize them, but if the de facto status didn't change most states would still likely view them as a dependent state.
I do think there should be some split in the list. If we listed states like Somalialand amongst every other state, this wouldn't be neutral. We need to present both points of view: include it since some view it as a sovereign state, but list it seperately since many (most) don't view it as such. TDL (talk) 07:31, 4 August 2010 (UTC)
It is definitely neutral TDL, but I would like it if somehow you defined what a UN nonmember state is. (I'm assuming state is synonymous with sovereign state here)
Definitely UN membership is a very useful waiver, if not a requirement. Chipmunkdavis (talk) 08:24, 4 August 2010 (UTC)
The UN recognizes the Vatican City as an official Non-Member Observer state, and the Cook Islands and Niue as official Non-Member states. See this map of the world by the UN [2]. In the past, many sovereign states such as North Korea, South Korea, East Germany, West Germany, and Switzerland have been recognized as official Non-Member states before they joined the UN. It's basically for states which qualify for UN membership but for whatever reason have yet to join. (Unlike ROC for example which has had their attempts to become a UN Non-Member blocked by the PRC). TDL (talk) 08:58, 4 August 2010 (UTC)
Big sorry TDL, I missed your proposal in the my options comment above. Yes, this fifth option also has its benefits (much less prone to disagreements) and drawbacks (still prone a little to disagreements over "non-member" - but I agree that this is not a show stopper; relying on UN-list, but OK, the most lenient one).
One question over it - it seems there is some "gray" area - UN members/non-members are at in section1, OK; "states (outside the UN member/non-members) explicitly not recognized by another state" - these are in section2 ("others"), OK; but what about - states outside UN member/non-members, that have neither explicit non-recognition nor recognition?; what about - states that have an explicit recognition by another state, but are not yet a UN non-member? (if this case is ever possible). Alinor (talk) 09:22, 4 August 2010 (UTC)
I'm not sure if we will be able to cover every single situation, so I recommend we divide it into two lists. We get the main list, based on one standard, whatever it may be, such as the one TDL proposed. The other list we use for every country that doesn't fit the first standard. That way we can be inclusive without being wrong. Chipmunkdavis (talk) 09:43, 4 August 2010 (UTC)
This will put a bit more weight on the UN-lists (as there would not be any other criteria - recognitions, claims, occupations, whatever - only members+non-members vs. the-rest). As I said before, the TDL proposal is improvement over the current situation. My intention was to be make bigger change, but if the other options (that supposedly go further away from UN-influence) don't gather enough support I won't oppose implementing the TDL proposal. Alinor (talk) 09:50, 4 August 2010 (UTC)
The grey area is the states which are not UN members/non-members and which are not explicitly unrecognized. Personally, I'd prefer to error on the side of caution by putting these grey area cases in the "other" section. Otherwise, the burden of proof falls on use to find an explicit non-recognition for every potential entry. It's not likely to make a difference though, since it seems unlikely a state wouldn't be at least a non-member if there wasn't a single nonrecognition (except maybe for a transitionary period just after sovereignty is obtained). I could go either way on this though if others disagreed.
So basically, I'm back to where I started with section 1 = UN members/non-members and section 2 = everyting else. Since we have an inclusion criteria for the list in general, we don't really need a criteria for the "other" states in this scenario. TDL (talk) 10:25, 4 August 2010 (UTC)
Instead of just using "non-member states" (which is a bit of a slippery concept, since the UN doesn't recognize states exactly) we should use the following criteria for inclusion the main section:
The second criteria gives us Vatican City/Holy See and the third gives us the Cook Islands and Niue (and only the Cook Islands and Niue). We can then put all other states in the second section. I'm still not fully convinced that a UN-based list would be fully neutral, but if it comes down to NPOV versus WP:V then a list which is actually verifiable would be much preferable to a list which isn't. Orange Tuesday (talk) 13:21, 4 August 2010 (UTC)
Agreed. If you can't find set standards, go with WP:V and explain the potential flaws/biases of your list. --Pretty Green (talk) 13:43, 4 August 2010 (UTC)
OK. This seems good enough in the situation we are. One question (final?) - how were selected these particular UN organizations? Alinor (talk) 14:03, 4 August 2010 (UTC)
It's basically all 17 of the specialized agencies minus the UNFPA and WFP (no member states as far as I could find), UPU (based on postal jurisdictions so membership isn't restricted to states), and the IMF and World Bank Group (which are both kind of outside the UN system, I think? I'm not sure. They could be included and the resulting list would be the same though). Orange Tuesday (talk) 14:35, 4 August 2010 (UTC)
I don't think membership in any organization can be used as criterea, a state can be universally recognized and still not be a member of any of those organizations if it wishes.XavierGreen (talk) 16:57, 4 August 2010 (UTC)
Theoretically you are right, but practically it is not reasonable to expect such isolation. Anyway, the other option (instead of agencies membership) was UN members+non-members. Alinor (talk) 19:35, 4 August 2010 (UTC)
I agree with XavierGreen that it would be better not to require membership in a UN organization for inclusion on the main list, since there are scenarios where a state could choose not to join, despite being eligable. This is why I prefer using the non-member states as the criteria, since they are in theory the pool of states which could join one of the UN agencies if they so choose. That being said, if others prefers this proposal I won't object since it certainly is a big improvement over what we have now in terms of its verifiablity. TDL (talk) 01:51, 5 August 2010 (UTC)
My only problem is, how do we determine which states are "non-member states"? We've seen the term referenced on a map, but I'm not sure the UN maintains a list. Orange Tuesday (talk) 02:06, 5 August 2010 (UTC)
That's a good question. I've not seen a formal list, but they are listed as such when they sign treaties: [3].
Interestingly, just read here [4] how the Secretary-General decides which states are eligable to sign UN treaties:
"But when a treaty is open to "States", how is the Secretary-General to determine which entities are States? If they are Members of the United Nations or Parties to the Statute of the International Court of Justice, there is no ambiguity. However, a difficulty has occurred as to possible participation in treaties when entities which appeared otherwise to be States could not be admitted to the United Nations, nor become Parties to the Statute of the International Court of Justice owing to the opposition, for political reasons, of a permanent member of the Security Council. 48/ Since that difficulty did not arise as concerns membership in the specialized agencies, where there is no "veto" procedure, a number of those States became members of specialized agencies, and as such were in essence recognized as States by the international community. Accordingly, and in order to allow for as wide a participation as possible, a number of conventions then provided that they were also open for participation to States members of specialized agencies. For example, the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties was opened for signature by all States Members of the United Nations or of any of the specialized agencies or of the International Atomic Energy Agency or Parties to the Statute of the International Court of Justice, and by any other State invited by the General Assembly of the United Nations to become a party to the Convention. This type of entry-into-force clause was called the "Vienna formula". Thus, whenever a treaty specified, under the Vienna formula or otherwise, which entities could become parties thereto, the Secretary-General had no difficulty in complying with the participation provision of the treaty concerned."
So it seems that the UN uses just the criteria you proposed above to decide what is a state, and thus both our proposals are equivalant. Using your wording might be clearer (and more verifiable) though. TDL (talk) 04:26, 5 August 2010 (UTC)
Yes. If we use "UN non-member states" without Agency membership requirement - then we have to rely on the UN maps or on individual statements-of-confirmation for each non-member (like we have this for CI/Niue) - because we haven't found UN "list of non-members". I don't object either way. Alinor (talk) 08:29, 5 August 2010 (UTC)
Okay so not only is it verifiable which states fit this "Vienna Formula" (that would be 192+CI+Niue+Vatican), but the existence of the formula itself is verifiable, and it has actually been used in the past for basically the purpose we intend to use it for now. That seems to me like a really solid criteria to base the division of this page on. Does anyone object or disagree? Orange Tuesday (talk) 14:47, 7 August 2010 (UTC)
I think this "Vienna Formula" is the best criteria that has been proposed. My only concern is that Kosovo is a full member of the IMF/World Bank. What is the reason that membership in these bodies is excluded from the formula? I presume it's since membership isn't a result of a one country, one vote process? (Voting is weighted by the size of the countries economy, among other things, so the US/Europe could more easily push through a membership application against the wished of the majority of states.). TDL (talk) 21:14, 8 August 2010 (UTC)
Honestly, I wasn't even aware of that. I just couldn't tell whether or not they were specialized agencies by looking at their Wikipedia pages. Further research suggests that they are [5] so if we're going to base the division on this formula then I guess we would have to include members of the IMF as well, which would mean putting Kosovo in the first section as opposed to the second. Orange Tuesday (talk) 22:21, 8 August 2010 (UTC)
I think that if Kosovo is placed in the first list this article will be put in serious trouble from other editors Chipmunkdavis (talk) 23:26, 8 August 2010 (UTC)
Maybe, but if we commit to using a criteria which objectively puts them in the first section then there's not going to be much they can do besides complain about it.
Look, I don't want us to base this decision on whether or not the page will attract "trouble" from other editors. We should adopt a criteria which conforms to WP:V, WP:NPOV, and WP:NOR as much as possible. If the best criteria puts Kosovo in the first list, well, so be it. If there's a better criteria which puts Kosovo in second list, then by all means we should use that one. Whatever happens will happen. I just think that whatever happens we need to improve on the status quo. Orange Tuesday (talk) 00:48, 9 August 2010 (UTC)
I know and I agree. Just means maybe fleshing it out very closely, and synthesizing the argument for it, then placing it in the FAQ or something when making the changes. Personally I'm unsure about moving from the UN+Vatican, as that seems the norm overall, but you seem to have logical proposals. Chipmunkdavis (talk) 06:50, 9 August 2010 (UTC)
I'm beginning to wonder about the viability of creating our own list of criteria. Maybe we should combine information from other similar lists? The BBC, the CIA world factbook, and similar places all have their own lists of countries. Chipmunkdavis (talk) 09:52, 9 August 2010 (UTC)
I'm not sure this is a better solution because of potential differences between the lists - if BBC lists Kosovo, but CIA does not, then what? And also the question of whose lists to use.
The WorldBank/IMF are technically UN agencies, but as Orange Tuesday mentioned - they are somehow 'fringe' cases. Maybe their 'uniqueness' is based in the voting principle (economy-size based instead of equal votes for each member), maybe there is another reason for their 'difference'. If we can use this 'differentiation' to exclude WB/IMF from the UN agencies used in the criteria - OK. If not - I don't object using the criteria, even if Kosovo is moved to section1 - as this criteria is the most verifiable/NPOV we could get consensus at.
The fallback solution is the UN members+non-member states. It is verifiable by the map and individual UN statements for each non-member state (this excludes Kosovo). Maybe we could add as additional supporting side-source the UN agency membership with a note that it doesn't apply in cases where there is no UN statement or in cases where UN agency membership contradicts the map. Something like a two stage solution - main+supporting. Alinor (talk) 10:07, 9 August 2010 (UTC)
Well obviously there are going to be differences, for political and other reasons. That would be the point of taking from multiple sources. We account for differences as best as possible. This is a list, and thus cannot fully cover all possibilities as well as we should, which has been demonstrated above. Chipmunkdavis (talk) 10:20, 9 August 2010 (UTC)

I would be strongly opposed to moving Kosovo to the first section solely on the basis of its membership in the IMF and the World Bank. The United States, a major supporter of Kosovan independence, commands an unparallelled voting power in both of those agencies because it's the largest shareholder. Kosovo fits perfectly alongside the states in the second section, where Palestine—a state with double the recognition that Kosovo enjoys—will apparently remain. It may make the list verifiable, but it will also make it unbalanced, biased, and incredibly confusing for the reader to wrap his or her head around (that's not to mention the months of "discussion" and "mediations" we'll probably have to endure from other editors). I'm of the belief that there is such a thing as a common definition when it comes to a list such as this one, and in compositional terms, ours probably fits it perfectly. I understand that that's difficult to verify, however. Night w (talk) 03:00, 10 August 2010 (UTC)

I would say that it's impossible to verify. Orange Tuesday (talk) 03:24, 10 August 2010 (UTC)
And is using IMF membership really that much more biased than UN membership? So the US uses its voting power to ensure that Kosovo gains entry to the IMF. How is that different than China using its veto to ensure that Taiwan doesn't join the UN? Orange Tuesday (talk) 03:38, 10 August 2010 (UTC)
Taiwan was voted off the UN by a resolution, the same one that brought in the PRC. it was declared an illegitimate government. In terms of every criteria for "sovereign state" status except for recognition, it is probably the most deserving out of all the second list to be added to the first. Chipmunkdavis (talk) 04:04, 10 August 2010 (UTC)
So, what is the better of the following options for section1 criteria:
  1. UN member states + non-member states (verifiable by individual UN statements and the map)
  2. Member states of the UN or some of its specialized agencies, where voting rules are based on the equality of members principle of "one country, one vote" (very easy verification)

Alinor (talk) 06:15, 10 August 2010 (UTC)

The un itself states that it cannot legally determine what is and what is not a state. For example it is possible that one security council member can withold recognition of a state while every other state recognizes it. As such it would not appear on any list of non-member states.XavierGreen (talk) 18:20, 10 August 2010 (UTC)
XavierGreen, if you read the webpage that I linked to above the point of the "Vienna Formula" is to eliminate the issue of a security council veto holding member keeping a state out of the UN. Since there is no possibility of using a veto to keep a state out of a UN specialized agency, this is a more neutral measure of what is a sovereign state. A widely recognized state which is opposed by a veto holding state can join a UN specialized agency and thus be recognized as a non-member state by the UN.
I agree with Orange that our first priority should be to choose a verifiable and neutral criteria, and then let the states fall where they might. We shouldn't be trying to develop a criteria which gives us a desired result. That being said, I agree with the argument that we should exclude IMF/World Bank membership from our criteria since theoretically a state could have >50% of votes in the IMF/World Bank with only the recognition of the top 10 voters (so recognition by ~5% of states). Thus, IMF/World Bank membership isn't a very good indicator of the degree of world recognition which is what we are trying to measure (just the wealth of the recognizing states). This seems to be how the "Vienna Formula" is applied anyways, since I've not seen any evidence that the UN treats Kosovo as a non-member state.
Orange, as I mentioned above, China can keep Taiwan out of the UN but not out of the UN specialized agencies. So, if Taiwan had the support they could join UNESCO (or some other agency) and thus become a non-member state. So the question is, is IMF/World Bank membership more biased than membership in the OTHER UN specialized agencies, and I'd say the answer is yes for the reasons above. TDL (talk) 19:01, 10 August 2010 (UTC)
Those critera seem to be more accurate, but there is one signifigant flaw. It is possible that a state can be universally recognized without joining any of those organizations, no state. is forced to join any of them in international relations in order to be considered a soveriegn state. As per the IMF, individuals are of no consequence in international relations the only opinions that matter are those of the soveriegn states not their subjects or citizens. Citizens and subjects are not soveriegn under international law (the major exception being stateless individuals), only the polities they belong to are.XavierGreen (talk) 21:00, 10 August 2010 (UTC)
I certainly agree with your first point (and in fact raised it myself previously [6]). However, it seems unlikely that a state would ever fall into such a crack. We are never going to find a perfect criteria, but if we have one that works in all probable scenarios and which is verifiable (unlike what we have now) that's a big improvement.
As for your second point, I'm not sure what this is in response to. If you are referring to my comments above, all of my statements were referring to states, not individuals. My point was that since wealthy states get a disproportionally large voting share in IMF/World Bank decisions (for example the US has 17% of all votes) getting >50% support in this body doesn't indicate wide support. A mere 10 states control more than 50% of the votes. I wasn't referring the the population of these states, but the voting share they have in IMF/World Bank decisions. TDL (talk) 23:23, 10 August 2010 (UTC)
Ah i see, the edits you've made to your previous statement clear it up for me, and i agree withyou that in anysituation they be excluded from any criterea set forth.XavierGreen (talk) 01:50, 11 August 2010 (UTC)

Do we have consensus for 'section1 criteria' to be defined as: Member states of the UN or some of its specialized agencies, where voting rules are based on the equality of members principle of "one country, one vote"? Alinor (talk) 19:28, 12 August 2010 (UTC)

Doesn't that leave out the Holy See? Ladril (talk) 19:34, 12 August 2010 (UTC)
No, it's a member of IAEA, ITU, and WIPO. And I'm alright with going with only certain agencies, but we should just explicitly spell out which agencies rather than getting into the one member one vote thing. Orange Tuesday (talk) 19:50, 12 August 2010 (UTC)
Wouldn't "UN members or state parties as recognized by UN organizations" encompass the UN membership, the Holy See and the associated states of New Zealand? Just a thought.

Motion: could we archive as much of this page as possible? I'm having a very hard time every time locating even the last thing I've written. Ladril (talk) 20:39, 12 August 2010 (UTC)

The UN and its specialized agencies only grant membership. They do not recognize. Orange Tuesday (talk) 20:43, 12 August 2010 (UTC)
We have yet another difference in understanding. The UN does not diplomatically recognize states in the same way states themselves do, but some of its agencies compile a list of entities they consider to be states for the purpose of their activities. Such states are recognized as "states parties", and such the UN treats them as states regardless of whether they are members or not. For example UNESCO [[7]] Ladril (talk) 21:11, 12 August 2010 (UTC)
That is a list of states which are party to the Convention Concerning the Protection of World Cultural and Natural Heritage. It's an information page for a specific treaty, not a list of UNESCO-endorsed states. Orange Tuesday (talk) 21:25, 12 August 2010 (UTC)



I think it's worth mentioning why we exclude IMF/World Bank membership. I don't mind if we put it in a footnote though, if you think explicitly listing the organizations in the intro is clearer. TDL (talk) 20:10, 12 August 2010 (UTC)
I will just say one more thing on the Kosovo/IMF thing: Apparently 96 states voted in favour of Kosovo's membership in the IMF [8] and there were only 186 IMF members at the time. So even if voting had been on a One Member One Vote basis, they still would have made it in. I know Kosovo doesn't have as much recognition as some of the other "Other States", but we're going to be using this metric on its own merits, not as a means of measuring international recognition. And really, Kosovo is exactly the kind of country that the formula was designed for in the first place. I'll drop it if people really have too many concerns but I do think it would be best if we stuck to the sourceable original version of the formula. Orange Tuesday (talk) 20:20, 12 August 2010 (UTC)
You know what, actually, let's just put Kosovo and the IMF aside for now. We can talk about that later. For now I think it's more important to move into a verifiable criteria. We can decide whether or not that criteria needs tweaking later. Orange Tuesday (talk) 20:35, 12 August 2010 (UTC)

I still do not see any need for changing the currently used formula. I think changing this now and the huge impact it will have on a lot of country lists, means we need more significant new evidence, to require change. BritishWatcher (talk) 20:24, 12 August 2010 (UTC)

Well there is no formula right now is the problem. We divide the list into "generally recognized states" and "other states" but we don't have any definition of general recognition and for most states there is no way of verifying (or even determining) what their level of international recognition is. Orange Tuesday (talk) 20:31, 12 August 2010 (UTC)
At the moment we treat Niue and Cook Islands basically as territories of New Zealand, they may be described as something else but that is how they appear in this page and they get shown as territories in lists across wikipedia. I do not see the justification for changing these two entities and considering them "states" be it recognised or unrecognised/disputed. BritishWatcher (talk) 20:46, 12 August 2010 (UTC)
Because they have a permanent population, a defined territory, government, and the capacity to enter into relations with the other states. And here's the important piece of new information which we have uncovered: they claim sovereignty. In other words, they meet all of our established criteria for inclusion. No matter what happens as a result of this discussion (which is about how this list specifically is organized), those criteria are not going to change. Orange Tuesday (talk) 20:54, 12 August 2010 (UTC)
But they do not claim sovereignty in the way an entity like Kosovo claims and has established defacto sovereignty. New Zealand is not forcing them to remain in association with them are they? BritishWatcher (talk) 21:08, 12 August 2010 (UTC)
I support tightening up the inclusion criteria if it is currently worded in a way that justifies this territory being moved to another section about a sovereign state lacking recognition. The are not a sovereign state and they are not a sovereign state with limited recognition. They are self governing, but not independent. An entity should have/be wanting full independence for it to be justified as a state. BritishWatcher (talk) 21:18, 12 August 2010 (UTC)
We actually have sources now which specifically describe the islands as "sovereign and independent": The section that begins here [9] is a good example, as is this joint declaration by the NZ and CI governments [10]. Orange Tuesday (talk) 21:51, 12 August 2010 (UTC)
hmmmm i now see why this debate has been so extensive lol. those sources do justify a change of some description. No clue on the best way of handling these, but i wont oppose a change after seeing that 2001 source. BritishWatcher (talk) 22:06, 12 August 2010 (UTC)
It's very complicated BW, the arguments often got into the semantics of the sources. Actually, I also initially opposed inclusion at all, but the evidence has been very compelling. It is definitively recognized as a sovereign state by at least the Holy See. There are other possible recognizers that were debated too. Anyway, on topic, why not go with UN member states and recognized by UN member states? Chipmunkdavis (talk) 07:54, 13 August 2010 (UTC)
Id support that and it would be simpler than picking and choosing international organisations that may have recognised or not recognised certain places for political reasons. So in a case like Cook Islands it would have to be listed as a state with limited recognition which would place it in the same part of the list as Kosovo, i still think its rather strange those two entities would be grouped together, but if we can not just consider it a territory of NZ then i can not see what else can be done. BritishWatcher (talk) 12:37, 13 August 2010 (UTC)
"UN member states and recognized by UN member states" - this would move 2/3 of the "other" to section1 as only Somaliland, Transnistria and Nagorno-Karabakh don't have recognition from any UN member. Is this acceptable?
What about using option2 from above, modified with a note as suggested above: "Member states of the UN or some of its specialized agencies"+footnote: "UN specialized agencies - link to chart of UN structure - where voting rules are based on the equality of members principle of "one country, one vote" - list of these agencies (see here): ILO, FAO, UNESCO, WHO, ICAO, IMO, ITU, UPU, WMO, WIPO, IFAD, UNIDO, UNWTO; Exclusion because of voting: World Bank Group, IMF". I just checked most of these (UPU and UNWTO still pending) - they have as "member states" Vatican, CI, Niue, UN members. But additionally as "associate/observer/member territory/etc." they have Hong Kong/Macau/Faroes/etc. - so we should mention in the note that only member states of these agencies apply, not associates/etc. Alinor (talk) 13:37, 13 August 2010 (UTC)
I just checked UPU and UNWTO - UNWTO is "clear", but UPU has two non-standard members: 'British Overseas Territories' (jointly) and 'Netherlands Antilles and Aruba' (jointly). These are common associates/observers in other agencies, but I can't find a source showing if they are UPU "full members" or associate members/etc. If someone could find such source - then the definition is OK. If not - I don't think it is reasonable to include these in the list (but maybe the consensus will be to include them regardless? - in such case the definition is OK), so my opinion is that we should either "exclude UPU" somehow or use option1. The only criteria I can think of to exclude UPU is: "...and UN specialized agencies established after the UN" - this would exclude UPU, ITU and ILO. Other suggestions? Anyway, I would prefer if someone could confirm that BOT/Antilles+Aruba are "associate" and not "member state of UPU" (maybe in the documents of UPU admission?), but if impossible/not correct - I propose to resort to the "exclude UPU/ITU/ILO" modification. Alinor (talk) 14:53, 13 August 2010 (UTC)
We're using membership in these agencies for the purposes of sorting, not to determine which states we include in general. Any member of one of these agencies that doesn't fit our definition of sovereign state obviously wouldn't be listed anywhere on this page. Orange Tuesday (talk) 15:26, 13 August 2010 (UTC)
OK. But we should add a note in the criteria section about: "1,2,3,4 and claims to be a sovereign state" (I didn't find such note curently). Alinor (talk) 16:23, 13 August 2010 (UTC)
Already in the article: "The list includes all states which are often regarded as satisfying these criteria and claim to be sovereign and independent." Orange Tuesday (talk) 16:41, 13 August 2010 (UTC)
OK, I missed that. Alinor (talk) 17:19, 14 August 2010 (UTC)

Proposal (13 August)[edit]

Okay, I propose we should change the lead to read as follows:


This is a list of sovereign states, giving an overview of states around the world with information on the status and recognition of their sovereignty.

The list is arranged alphabetically and contains 205 entries, as of 2010. It is divided into two parts:

Compiling a list such as this can be a difficult and controversial process, as there is no definition that is binding on all the members of the community of nations concerning the criteria for statehood. For more information on the criteria used to determine the contents of this list, please see the "criteria for inclusion" section below.


and then in that section below:


On the basis of the above criteria, this list includes the following 205 entities:


The list itself would then have to be changed to include entries on CI and Niue and it might make sense to change the title of the first section to "States which participate in the United Nations system" or something. I included the IAEA and the ICJ in the criteria because they were part of the original Vienna formula, and there are some widely recognized states (like San Marino, Liechtenstein, and the Holy See) which participated in these institutions before the rest of the UN. So it's conceivable that such a situation could emerge again. I checked to make sure it doesn't widen the criteria from the main 195, so no worry about that. Thoughts? Orange Tuesday (talk) 15:26, 13 August 2010 (UTC)

Very good! I propose adding some footnotes - one note naming the Vienna formula (so that there would not be edit-revert actions to add other organizations etc.), one note explaining why IMF/World Bank are excluded, one note listing the agencies (because, as you see on the talk page of UN agencies, this is not cleared up there) - the agencies list note could be combined with the Vienna formula note.
A side question - do we have a source for the ICJ parties/signatories? Alinor (talk) 16:18, 13 August 2010 (UTC)
This page (which is linked to in the proposal) contains a complete and accurate list of UN special agencies. We don't have a single source for ICJ but every UN member is automatically a party to the statute and if you search here [11] for "Art 93", you'll find a series of documents that list every non-UN member that became a party. Those are Switzerland, Japan, Liechtenstein, San Marino, and Nauru. All of them have since become UN members. Orange Tuesday (talk) 18:00, 13 August 2010 (UTC)
Hm, it seems there are two pages for specialized agencies - this one with problems and the other you provided. Alinor (talk) 17:19, 14 August 2010 (UTC)

The wording here is an improvement of what is currently in the article, but splitting the list into two, and determining which agencies to go by, is still rather arbitrary. Why are we limiting ourselves to these particular UN agencies? How are these agencies distinguished from other agencies that allow state participation? For a very long time this list was not split into two sections - which states with less recognition being italicized rather than bolded in the main list. The bold-italics distinction is less prominent than having two separate lists, and this diminishes the arbitrariness of distinguishing between the two groups of states. (Think of the difference as more of a continuum rather than two clear categories.) --Jiang (talk) 17:10, 13 August 2010 (UTC)

I agree that the page would be better without a division, but since the consensus seems to be that a division is necessary, I want to get as good a division as possible. This specific proposal is based on the "Vienna formula", which has been used in the past as a neutral way of determining which states were allowed to sign multi-lateral treaties that were open to non-UN members. In its original form it read like this: "all States Members of the United Nations or of any of the specialized agencies or of the International Atomic Energy Agency or Parties to the Statute of the International Court of Justice, and by any other State invited by the General Assembly of the United Nations to become a party to the Convention." Essentially it's a verifiable way of determining which non-UN members participate in the UN system. And it has the advantage of being invented by the UN (i.e. not by us).
I would prefer to include the World Bank and the IMF as well (since that was in the original formula), but editors have raised concerns above that including them would force us to move Kosovo into the first section. I don't really care much about the Kosovo dispute either way, so I don't really see that as a problem. But other editors do, so I figure it's worth compromising on that to get an improved set of criteria. The distinction that has been drawn between the IMF/WB and the other specialized agencies is that the IMF/WB have weighted voting. Orange Tuesday (talk) 18:00, 13 August 2010 (UTC)
I would rather see Niue and Cook Islands in the "other states" section than included in the main section with fully recognised sovereign states. Membership of some of the UNs bodies is very different to membership of the UN General assembly itself. What would happen if say the United Kingdom government said Scotland could represent itself in certain UN bodies like the WHO? BritishWatcher (talk) 18:11, 13 August 2010 (UTC)
Then we wouldn't include it because Scotland doesn't fit the main four point+sovereignty claim criteria. If an entity is a sovereign state AND it is a member of one of these specialized agencies then we would include it in the first section. Orange Tuesday (talk) 19:05, 13 August 2010 (UTC)
So Kosovo would make its way into the first list as it has become a member of some specialized agencies? That is not strict enough criteria for the main list. There is a big difference between Kosovo and other recognised sovereign states which are members of the UN. We should go with UN assembly/security council recognition/membership rather than of these minor international bodies of the UN. BritishWatcher (talk) 19:11, 13 August 2010 (UTC)
I'm not necessarily opposed to using bold or italics to indicate the division instead of having two separate lists, if other editors prefer this approach. However, there needs to be some indication that not all states are "equally sovereign". If we listed Somaliland next to the USA with no distinction this would not be neutral, since it would promote one POV without presenting other widespread POV. Using bold/italics instead of two separate lists doesn't diminish the arbitrariness of our division. We would still need to come up with a verifiable criteria to decide who is bold/italic and who isn't.
The issue I have with using IMF/World bank membership isn't a result of me caring where Kosovo is listed. The problem is that we are using membership in UN agencies as a proxy for "widespread recognition". If you can get into the IMF/World Bank with the support of only 10 out of ~190 member states (because of weighted voting) then by definition "widespread recognition" isn't a necessary condition for joining the IMF/World Bank. I recognize that you posted a link which stated that in Kosovo's case they got support from 96/186 states in their IMF application, so maybe Kosovo does indeed have "widespread recognition". But since IMF membership isn't restricted to states with "widespread recognition", membership in this body alone isn't sufficient to demonstrate their "widespread recognition" and thus shouldn't be included in our criteria.
Basically, I think including a state on the main list due to IMF membership (which they achieved as a result of support from only 10/190 states) would be just as biased as excluding a state due to a lack of UN membership (which they were denied as a result of a single veto by the security council). This was one of the main reason for expanding our definition to include the members of UN agencies. TDL (talk) 19:16, 13 August 2010 (UTC)
I would strongly oppose simply creating one list and depending on Bolding/italics which is pretty useless if you have small text on screen. It is far superior to have them split into sections. We should not use membership of these minor UN organisations to determine if something belongs in the main list. That should be reserved for indisputable sovereign states. BritishWatcher (talk) 19:32, 13 August 2010 (UTC)
BritishWatcher, with regard to only including UN members (there is no such thing as "recognition" by the UN): As recently as 1999, Nauru, Tuvalu, Kiribati, and Tonga were neither members nor permanent observer states at the General Assembly. But Nauru was a party to the Statute of the ICJ, and all four were a members of UNESCO. By considering the other agencies within the United Nations system we can come to a more accurate picture of what states are generally accepted members of the international community. This is the policy the UN itself has followed in the past when trying to determine what constitutes "all states", and it should be good enough for us.
As for Kosovo being different than the other widely recognized states, you could alternatively say that there is just as much of a difference between Kosovo and the states it is currently grouped with. None of them have been able to attain membership in any specialized agencies (Taiwan has been trying without success for a few years now), none of them have are as recognized internationally, and none of them have an ICJ opinion declaring their independence to be legal. When it comes to the borderline cases, things are rarely so clear cut. But again, I don't want to come off as someone with an agenda to move Kosovo into the top section and since there is at least a plausible rationale (the weighted voting thing) I can go with excluding IMF/WB if it will make the criteria more acceptable to everyone.
(I will say though that the 10 countries scenario is very unlikely when you consider which ten countries we're talking about here. If the US, Japan, Germany, the UK, France, China, Italy, Saudi Arabia, Canada, AND Russia all vote to allow a state into the IMF then it's probably going to be widely recognized anyway. And for obvious reasons it's not going to have any trouble getting past the Security Council. As far as I know, Kosovo is the most disputed any IMF member has ever been, and even it came through with the support of a majority of states). Orange Tuesday (talk) 19:54, 13 August 2010 (UTC)
Also, I don't think we should be considering these criteria as a proxy for "widespread recognition". The purpose of this proposal is to replace the "widespread recognition" requirement with something that is more neutral and verifiable but still gets us to the core thing that everyone is thinking about when they say "widespread recognition". Being a member of an agency doesn't imply recognition per se by a majority of its members, even in one-country-one-vote cases. Orange Tuesday (talk) 19:59, 13 August 2010 (UTC)
I agree with Orange Tuesday. Not that I endorse IMF/WB exclusion, but the "10 countries" thing is still probable - maybe not 10, but 11 or 12 (but still a clear minority) would make a "probable coalition" (eg. in the example above exchange Russia and China for Australia, New Zealand, Netherlands, Spain, etc.)
Another side note - does someone have a list of the 96 states that supported Kosovo IMF/WB membership? Alinor (talk) 22:34, 14 August 2010 (UTC)
The point about the IMF is very valid, if a small number of states can get it in then including states based on its membership seems quite unusual. I don't wish to get into the debate about whether UN membership can b e considered as widespread recognition. The idea that the membership of UN organs seems to be fair on the justification that they get in through popular acclaim. I think including "widespread recognition" is fairly NPOV as it stands, and does give an accurate worldview. Chipmunkdavis (talk) 06:11, 15 August 2010 (UTC)

So, do we have agreement for proposal-13august? Alinor (talk) 18:40, 15 August 2010 (UTC)

As nobody objects I will implement it later. Alinor (talk) 14:06, 21 August 2010 (UTC)
I still think major problems are going to arise once Kosovo gains more than 50% recognition.XavierGreen (talk) 16:00, 21 August 2010 (UTC)
Would it be a good idea to RFC this first? This article does provide the basis for many other articles on wikipedia, and changing it without full procedure may cause a large unfriendly response. Chipmunkdavis (talk) 16:27, 21 August 2010 (UTC)
About Kosovo - if there is a "big push" to include it (Kosovo POV) - then the "exlude IMF/WB" note could be just deleted and as Kosovo is IMF/WB member it would move to section1 (removing this note would move it there even now). If there is a "big push" to keep it in section2 (Serbia POV) - then, keep the "exclude IMF/WB" note. So, I think proposal-13august is ambivalent in regards to Kosovo - eg. it could be implemented regardless of the Kosovo issue, and when it arises - then we will discuss what to do. And another benefit is that we will discuss whether we should use non-equal-voting-power-IMF/WB or not (a technical/general issue) - instead of discussing whether Kosovo is equal to Serbia or not (very polarizing issue).
I don't object with a RFC - if someone can do it, go ahead. Alinor (talk) 17:37, 21 August 2010 (UTC)

Kosovo was admitted into the IMF with a vote from more than half the IMF membership.[12] Ladril (talk) 20:42, 21 August 2010 (UTC)

It is not very clear what majority voted for Kosovo - majority of country by votes or majority of country by number. There was another source stating 96 countries voting in favor of Kosovo (more than 50% of the states). But in any case I think it would be interesting to find the list of states. Anyway, I think the reason for excluding IMF/WB is not how many countries voted in favor of Kosovo, but the nature of the vote (non-equality). I don't object either way (including or excluding IMF/WB), but I support utilizing the Vienna Formula (proposal-august13) for separation between section1 and section2 - instead of the current situation. I propose to implement it first and then we could continue the debate about the IMF/WB. Alinor (talk) 13:46, 22 August 2010 (UTC)
I think that the agreement is not to include IMF, although as Alinor says it can be discussed later. I've opened an RfC below, please check it and tell me if I've covered all the important points. Chipmunkdavis (talk) 14:12, 22 August 2010 (UTC)
It would be interesting, but as the source itself says, the names of the states who voted either way are not ordinarily made public, so we cannot make that a requirement. Ladril (talk) 15:46, 22 August 2010 (UTC)
I didn't want to say to require this list - I just wanted to note, that for me this seems interesting. Of course we can include/exclude IMF membership as criteria without requiring to have voting lists for each new member (we need just the "current IMF members" list that is public). Alinor (talk) 17:57, 22 August 2010 (UTC)
I think Orange Tuesday and Alinor's proposal is excellent but I'll go against the apparent consensus and say that Kosovo should be part of the first section. Reasons for not doing it seem to me equivalent to taking the written List of states with limited recognition as a straitjacket. However, even among those ten states there are significant differences of degree. It's not the same to speak of states that have something of a pariah status in relation to the international community (such as Somaliland, the ex-Soviet conflict zones, and Northern Cyprus, which has not garnered enough support even among Turkic states), and states which have achieved a higher level of recognition, such as Palestine (recognized as a state in the General Assembly in all but name), Western Sahara (recognized as an African state by the African Union), Kosovo (membership in UN organizations) and Taiwan (de facto treatment as a state by many states which do not formally recognize it). Bottom line: in order to avoid continuous reverts, Kosovo should be in the first list. Ladril (talk) 20:07, 22 August 2010 (UTC)
I agree that there are valid arguments to be made that Kosovo should be included in the first list. However, I think you'd have to concede that there are also valid arguments to be made to keep it in the "Other states". The reality is that it is somewhere between the two extremes of our list and doesn't fit into either perfectly. I also agree that there is a large degree of variety in the states listed in the "Other states" section. However, the whole point of this discussion (at least from my perspective) is to try and get away from the types of arguments you are making here by introducing a verifiable criteria. If we use the "Vienna Formula" as I proposed above, than there is no need for us to do all this OR to try and decide where they belong. Either they are a member of the a specialised agency or they aren't.
Your point about Kosovo getting >50% support from the IMF has been raised above by Orange, but I'm not sure what it proves. No one is claiming that a state can't join the IMF with >50% support, just that it is possible to get into the IMF with only 10/190 states support. So if "wide recognition" isn't a necessary condition for joining the IMF, then IMF membership alone shouldn't be sufficient to be included in the main list. If Kosovo were to get WHO membership tomorrow I'd be the first to propose moving them to the main list. My objection is to using OR to justify this, or to using a criteria (IMF membership) which can theoretically be satisfied by a state with extremely limited recognition (10/190). However, if you have a verifiable criteria which includes Kosovo in the main list I'd be happy to listen to it.
Also, I don't think we should be deciding how to construct the list in order to avoid reverts. We should do it correctly and deal with POV pushers if the show up. I don't mind clicking "undo" a few times a day to thwart vandals. Anyways, I think we are just as likely (if not more likely) to get contentions reverts removing Kosovo from the main list as we would trying to move them to the main list. TDL (talk) 20:50, 22 August 2010 (UTC)
This is why I made a different proposal way back, which apparently was not well understood. Taking into account what has been discussed, the intention is to create two lists: one with the UN members, the Holy See and the associated states of New Zealand, and another one with ten states. Take a moment to read [13], My proposal would be to use not the Vienna Convention as the separating criterion, but the fact that CK and Niue are regarded by the UN as states with full treaty-making capacity. This would allow us to neatly exclude Kosovo from the first list while keeping what we want in. Ladril (talk) 23:03, 22 August 2010 (UTC)
Or we can include both the Vienna Convention and the criterion I propose, if that makes people more comfortable. Ladril (talk) 23:04, 22 August 2010 (UTC)
The intention isn't to create a list with UN+VC+Niue+CI in the main section and Kosovo in the Other section. The intention is to create a list using a neutral and verifiable criteria. If Kosovo happens to be in the main list fine. If not, then so be it. But your implication that the agenda is to keep Kosovo out of the main list is simply wrong. (At least for me, I can't speak for others).
As for the link you provided, the text clearly states that UN views CI/Niue as having full treaty-making capacity SINCE they satisfy the Vienna Formula. So I'm not really sure what the difference is between what you are advocating for and what we've been discussing, except for the fact that using the Vienna Formula directly (as opposed to relying on the UN's implementation of it) is much easier to verify and more neutral. TDL (talk) 23:31, 22 August 2010 (UTC)
There is, in my view, a very important difference: that in this case application of the Vienna Formula is being mentioned by a third-party source (in this case, the UN) as concerning two entries on the list. Its a very objective criterion which, by the way, saves us the trouble of having to dictate whether Kosovo belongs on the list due to its World Bank membership or Palestine does because it's a member of ESCWA, etc. You also won't deny that, since the UN is being made an axle of classification, I suppose statements by their authorities should count. Ladril (talk) 23:46, 22 August 2010 (UTC)
In theory, I agree that we'd be better off to let the UN decide who satisfies the criteria and who doesn't. This was in fact what I originally advocated for when the discussion started. However, other editors have made the argument that this is too difficult to verify. For example, can you find a source where the UN clearly outlines what their position on Palestine's treaty-making capacity is? Or Kosovo's for that matter? The problem is that no clear UN position exists. Some UN bodies (IMF/World Bank) treat Kosovo as completely sovereign with full treaty-making capacity, while the others (SC) treat it as a province of Serbia. Which UN position would you suggest we take? TDL (talk) 00:06, 23 August 2010 (UTC)
If this is a dead horse, then I'll be content not to beat it any more. To answer the question, however, I think the following are pretty clear:
1. That Kosovo may have joined the IMF and the World Bank, but unlike in the case of CK and Niue, there is no statement by the UN Secretary-General or General Assembly as to whether they regard it as a state with treaty-making capacity. If and when there is such a statement, they can qualify to the first list.
2. That likewise, there is no similar statement in the case of Palestine, which is regarded as a "nonmember entity" (which is different from a "nonmember state") by the General Assembly. If and when there is such a statement, Palestine may be moved into the first list, and so on.
In a nutshell, I'm arguing that it may be a good idea to complement the Vienna criterion with an "explicit statement by the UN as a whole" criterion. My two cents. Ladril (talk) 01:28, 23 August 2010 (UTC)
I understand your points, and mostly agree with you. As I said above, this is essentially what I was originally arguing for. I proposed that the main list include UN Member states + officially recognized UN Non-member states (as per [14] for example), which is essentially what you are proposing now. (Currently VC, CI, Niue are all listed as non-member states). However, other editors preferred the current proposal. I still prefer my original proposal, but in the name of consensus building I have no problems supporting the current proposal as it's a huge improvement over what we've got now. That being said, if you could build a consensus behind using the UN's official position as the criteria I'd support that as well. TDL (talk) 02:31, 23 August 2010 (UTC)
I think this would signify only a minimal addition to the original proposal in terms of text, but would complement it greatly. We'll have to hear what others have to say, though. Ladril (talk) 03:02, 23 August 2010 (UTC)
I don't object using UN members + non-members (verifiable by the map and statements for each non-member) - I also supported that before. I also don't object using both Vienna+Non-Members (but it seems as a doubling to me). But Vienna is really much easier to verify - you only have to look at membership lists of the specialized agencies. For the other scenario - it seems that some editors do not accept using the map and finding/interpreting the statements is not so straightforward as for the membership lists (eg. there could be some vague statements about Palestine and then there would be POV-pushes, etc. - the wording of the criteria should be so defined as to avoid interpretations and this seems very hard to do). Alinor (talk) 04:22, 23 August 2010 (UTC)

Note on ramifications of decision[edit]

As the discussion here goes on, it has slowly dawned on me what a large effect this decision will make. If the decision about this is made with so few people, I'm not sure what the reactions would be, especially as this could change many list articles. The most prominent effect, as I'm sure we all know, is whether the Cook Islands and Niue are to be included as sovereign states. If so, they need to be included in other lists such as List of countries by continent and List of Oceanian countries and territories. Based around this, is it worth using WP:EAR or calling an RFC or something else to get more opinions on the subject? I do not want us to come to a nice wrapped up consensus here only to have it attacked by a bunch of rabid editors who notice the change only after it happens. I'm sure none of us want that. Chipmunkdavis (talk) 16:10, 6 August 2010 (UTC)

Yes, if we start changing other articles it is better to have some of these procedures first to avoid having this debate again and again... Alinor (talk) 16:45, 6 August 2010 (UTC)
Thats part of why i feel its best just to include them in the other states category that currently exists.XavierGreen (talk) 21:17, 6 August 2010 (UTC)
I agree. This change would have a huge impact on more than 100 articles. There would have to be unquestionable justification to change the status of Cook Islands and Niue to sovereign states. Ive not been following this debate, but it sounds like a serious alteration that is unnecessary. Could someone write a brief paragraph or sentence or two just explaining What is happening and why, its gonna take some time to read through all the recent debate. Has anything politically with these two entities changed to justify the change here, or is it just us changing our criteria/definitions? BritishWatcher (talk) 21:35, 6 August 2010 (UTC)
Britishwatcher, this is neither about us changing our criteria nor the states in question changing their status. Before this discussion, the consensus was that they fulfilled all the Montevideo-derived definitions of a state (permanent population, defined territory, government, capacity to enter into international relations) but lacked the claim of sovereignty needed for inclusion on this list. Since then we've found NZ and CI government sources which seem to indicate that they do in fact claim sovereignty. This means that they fulfill all of our criteria. The main debate now is not over whether to include them, but rather, which section they should be listed in (and tied up in that is whether or not the way we categorize the list right now needs changing)
Xavier, including CI and Niue in Other States would have just as much of an effect on those particular articles as including them in the main section would. If we're going to include them at all then it's going to affect any other article that shares our definition of "sovereign state". Although a lot of lists (e.g. List of countries by birth rate) include sovereign states and dependencies already, so presumably the changes there wouldn't actually be that substantial. Orange Tuesday (talk) 23:03, 6 August 2010 (UTC)
To expand on Orange Tuesday, I'll try to explain more. This debate started when a court case in New Zealand was sourced in which the judge treated the Cook Islands and Niue as sovereign and independent states. The debate then continued on the semantics of the words used, and the main insistence of some authors was to add them into the list of 193 states on top. After that, a large amount of sources were fished up, some apparently contradictory, the value and meaning of which was contested. Main issues are whether other states recognize the Cook Islands (the country the debate mostly focused on, though being in the same political status of Niue I assume all things are equal) as an independent sovereign state, whether having an ambassador defines you as a sovereign state, whether having diplomatic relations defines you as a sovereign state. By the end of the talk, we had reached an agreement that they were states, with an independent government, control over their territory, and arguably a population. The question was where to put them, in the current list of 193 or the current list of 10. A conversation then started about what exactly was the criterion for being part of the top list of 193 states. That's the overview, though please feel free to read for all the details! Chipmunkdavis (talk) 02:49, 7 August 2010 (UTC)
Hmmm thanks for the explanation everyone. I think i am against any change to where / how we list these entities which could have implications for so many other lists on wikipedia. BritishWatcher (talk) 02:05, 11 August 2010 (UTC)
Articles affected by change[edit]

Just listing articles that might need work to reflect the discussion above when it concludes, feel free to add

Final inclusion criteria for sovereign states[edit]

Significant progress has been made towards list definition and selection criteria for this list. This RFC is merely to try and get other opinions before the final decision is made, as it is a large change that will probably affect other articles. Please at least skim through Talk:List of sovereign states#Inclusion criteria change before commenting. 14:10, 22 August 2010 (UTC)

Debate has been going on for over a month on this list, and after a long time of debate (mostly good debate) a final criteria was hammered out.


The list is arranged alphabetically and contains 205 entries, as of 2010. It is divided into two parts:

Compiling a list such as this can be a difficult and controversial process, as there is no definition that is binding on all the members of the community of nations concerning the criteria for statehood. For more information on the criteria used to determine the contents of this list, please see the "criteria for inclusion" section below.


On the basis of the above criteria, this list includes the following 205 entities:


This has achieved consensus on the talk page. This RFC is merely to try and get other opinions before the final decision is made, as it is a large change that will probably affect other articles. Please at least skim through Talk:List of sovereign states#Inclusion criteria change before commenting, although if you wish to go into the archives feel free. Thanks. Chipmunkdavis (talk) 14:10, 22 August 2010 (UTC)

Just in case editors are unfamiliar with the page: The basic definition of a sovereign state that we use on this page (i.e. all entities which claim to be sovereign states and have (a) a permanent population, (b) a defined territory, (c) government, (d) capacity to enter into relations with the other states.) will remain unchanged regardless of the outcome of this discussion. The proposed criteria would replace the way we currently categorize the 205 entities which fit that definition. So rather than using "widely recognized" vs. "not widely recognized" (terms which are difficult to define), we would essentially divide the list into those states which participate in the United Nations System vs. those states which do not. Orange Tuesday (talk) 17:15, 22 August 2010 (UTC)
Also, it would be nice if someone added this to the History and Geography RFC list as well. Orange Tuesday (talk) 17:19, 22 August 2010 (UTC)
I'm not familiar with the RFC process - would these comments above have to be "glued" somehow to the RFC page or the discussion actually will be made on this page here? Alinor (talk) 18:00, 22 August 2010 (UTC)
Also, I would like to note that this new categorization formula is known by the name "Vienna formula" and is applied to various international treaties in order to identify the potential signatories. (see above discussions for details) Alinor (talk) 18:02, 22 August 2010 (UTC)
  • RFC Comment: I think Alinor's comment is useful for someone just hopping into this discussion, since it elucidates that the selected system is in use by the international community (i.e. reliable sources) which is a key indicator that we should use it here, too. As a bonus comment, I can't resist adding that the "other" category is IMO the really interesting part here ;) Summing up: Since WP:RS appear to use this formula, it's very likely the correct choice here too. Cheers, --Dailycare (talk) 20:07, 22 August 2010 (UTC)
Orange: I've added this to the History and Geography RFC list as you requested.
Alinor: The RFC just lists this page here. Editors who see it there will come here to leave their comments.
There are two minor changes I'd like to see to the above proposal:
  • Mention the "Vienna Formula" as our justification for this criteria, and maybe a link to Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties.
  • A brief explanation of why we exclude IMF/World Bank membership (if we do indeed decide to exclude them). This could be in a footnote, if other editors prefer that, but I think it's worth mentioning. TDL (talk) 21:07, 22 August 2010 (UTC)
FYI, I just posted a note on all the wikiproject talk pages that this page is a member of asking for comments. TDL (talk) 21:18, 22 August 2010 (UTC)
just a detail: the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties is not the best reference as the Vienna formula is not part of the subject of the treaty there (although it was used as Entry into Force condition of the treaty itself, but this was not the first mention). This might be better link explaining the history...L.tak (talk) 22:20, 22 August 2010 (UTC)
Good point. I was under the impression that the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties was the first instance of this formula beening used. However, your source clearly says otherwise. Thus there's no need to link to the article. TDL (talk) 22:54, 22 August 2010 (UTC)
I agree that these two footnotes should be added. It would be good to link to a Vienna formula article, but since there is none yet - only an explanatory footnote.
As a side note - can somebody put requests for the Vienna formula and the Political status of Cook Islands and Political status of Niue articles? (see [15]) Alinor (talk) 05:19, 23 August 2010 (UTC)
Anyone can make a page about their political status I guess, though I think it should be just one article, Political status of New Zealand associated states. I suggest Alinor, that you for now add the information you feel necessary to the associated state page, and then when it becomes long enough it can be split off into it's own article. Chipmunkdavis (talk) 05:24, 23 August 2010 (UTC)

Why does everything on Wikipedia have to be so complicated? A similar list found in any atlas or encyclopedia would not contain as many pedantic caveats...Kransky (talk) 10:16, 23 August 2010 (UTC)

If Wikipedia were to be just a carbon copy of other sources, then what need would there be for it? If however, we want to produce the best list there is, we have to go the extra mile to make it as current and clear as possible. Ladril (talk) 12:50, 23 August 2010 (UTC)

Oppose I have been following the long debate ongoing above for quite awhile but did not comment on the merits of the proposal, only on minor points raised throughout. However, the last thing I expected was for an editor to assert that a consensus of any kind had been formed at all. Therefore I must voice my opposition to the proposal: the version that is outlined here in the 'Final inclusion criteria for sovereign states' section of this page.

  • My first issue is one of cosmetics; The lengthy foray into explaining how all states in the first part of the list are in UN, et. al. It is unnecessarily long, and is plain unnecessary, if it must be kept, we should really make it a note or move it somewhere else.
  • My second issue is one of more consequence; this proposal hopes to include the island nation of Niue as a sovereign state on this list. I dispute that we should do this. It has been contented above that Niue has full sovereignty and recognition from the international community as such. I reject this logic and argue that we should not include it onto our list. Sure, it has a degree of autonomy to conduct its own affairs, but the control it has over its island is the most it has ever had -compared with similar situations that were also raised above, wherein states were completely sovereign and independent and thereafter entered into agreement that surrendered that away. Indeed the amount of self governance, it even now has is not enough to satisfy our criteria for inclusion. This is a dependency of New Zealand, and we should treat it as such, giving it special consideration and maybe expansion on its status, within the New Zealand entry to which it is currently affixed. Additionally in my looking through a number of the sources above, I could find nothing that would persuade me to think otherwise. I find the citizenship issue also most telling of the relationship between the two states. Niue could be a sovereign state one day, but it certainly is not one as the situation is currently. Those arguing for inclusion raise very good arguments, but are, unintentionally or otherwise, overlooking a number of telling aspects of the relationship here, some raised, some not even.
  • Thirdly, the ramifications of declaring two new 'sovereign' states is far reaching and is not within our scope to dictate. This requires debate beyond this page, and no an RFC is not wide community involvement.

I continue to have no comment on the CI addition(I neither support nor oppose its addition, I have always remained neutral on that). I know passions can and have run high on this issue of inclusion, but I cannot support this addition at this time. Outback the koala (talk) 00:50, 24 August 2010 (UTC)

I am still unsure about how best to deal with this matter. I accept Niue and CI are more sovereign than other territories, but i am still concerned about them being included in the main section of the list. Whilst i wont oppose that inclusion there, i do think it would be less controversial and less problematic to list them in the "other states" section for those lacking recognition rather than in line with fully recognised sovereign states. If we included them in the "other states" section then it also means there is less implications for other country lists, most of which use italics for disputed sovereign states / territories, so there would be no need to make a lot of changes to dozens, probably over 100 lists. BritishWatcher (talk) 00:54, 24 August 2010 (UTC)

I agree that would be much less controversial. Especially because its hard to argue that they both have widespread recognition from the international community. Outback the koala (talk) 01:00, 24 August 2010 (UTC)
I think it's best if we try and keep this debat restricted to the sorting criteria. The question of whether CI/Niue belong on the list at all is a separate issue to be debated. Basically, as I see it, there are two huge issues with this article as it's currently constructed.
  • The sorting criteria ("Widely recognized" versus "Other") is unverifiable OR
  • The main inclusion criteria (4 points plus declaration of independence) is unverifiable OR
The above proposal would solve issue #1 (how do we sort the list), but it wouldn't solve #2 (how do we decide who to put on the list). I suggest that the proposal above is modified to remove CI/Niue for the moment so we can focus on the sorting criteria and deal with the inclusion criteria in a separate discussion.
Also I reject the argument that we should avoid making any changes to the list because of potential consequence to other pages. You can make an argument that they don't belong on merit. But if the consensus is that the list is wrong, we should fix it and deal with the consequences. Afterall, if France was missing from our list I doubt anyone would be arguing that they should be kept off to save us from editing ~100 pages. TDL (talk) 01:30, 24 August 2010 (UTC)
This list (rightly or wrongly) basically sets the standard for all country lists on wikipedia. Of course we shouldnt avoid doing something just to avoid creating extra work, if there are clear errors they should be corrected. But the status of these two are not as clear as France or other fully recognised sovereign states. We do have to take into account the impact on other lists, upgrading what is basically seen as a territory at the moment to a full sovereign state is problematic and has the potential to have disputes break out on several lists. Moving it to the states with limited recognition section will cause less disruption, less disputes and in my opinion (leaving aside the impact for other lists) is a more suitable location for them. Cook Islands are not the same as the other United Nations members states. We should not avoid dealing with the nations in question when it is only these two that will see their positions change. Kosovo has far more recognition than these two, and at present it does not belong in the main list. BritishWatcher (talk) 01:41, 24 August 2010 (UTC)
I think the case for Niue is much weaker than that of the Cook Islands, it has barely any diplomatic contact with other states on any level. It would also be interesting to see how its involvement in international diplomacy corresponds to that of New Zealand. I would be willing to bet that the Niuean government pretty much does whatever the New Zealanders encourage them to do since its government is so weak in its present state. Though the cook islands acts in many respects as a fully soveriegn state, there has been little shown here to prove that the Niuean government does so willingly.XavierGreen (talk) 05:56, 24 August 2010 (UTC)
About the "100 affected pages" - they will be adopted over time, not immediately and also - if on some particular page some entries from this list here are meaningless (eg. "Islam in the Vatican City") there is no problem for the editors of that page to just skip these. Anyway, I don't get the argument not to improve something, because as consequence we will have to do "more work".
As TDL said the topic of discussion here is the sorting criteria - not some particular entries and not the inclusion criteria.
If CI/Niue are "dependencies of NZ", they don't satisfy the inclusion criteria, so regardless of what sorting criteria we use (Vienna formula or "wide recognition") they will remain in the NZ entry.
So, this is not a debate about CI/Niue, but some of the points raised above about these two are not correct: they are clearly not "dependencies of NZ"; they don't have "amount of self-governance" as the regular self-governing non-independent territories - they have full independence in all matters, including foreign relations and defense; they clearly don't belong in the "other" section - they could either be inside the NZ entry (if they don't satisfy the inclusion criteria) or in their own entries in section1 (if they satisfy the inclusion criteria); Kosovo/"others" situation has nothing in common with CI/Niue - there are many states rejecting recognition of the "others" states, and only 2 rejecting CI/Niue "full" recognition (yes, I know the counter arguments of counting the accepting recognitions, we have debated this at length) - the point is that while the "others" clearly satisfy the inclusion criteria they are "rejected by the international community"; CI/Niue in contrast are clearly "accepted", but it is debatable if they satisfy the inclusion criteria. Anyway, this has nothing to do with the sorting criteria.
While the CI/Niue case is unrelated to the sorting criteria I agree that the Kosovo case could be part of this discussion - there could be a decision to remove the IMF/WB exclusion note (and thus move Kosovo to section1). But I propose to leave such potential debates (about IMF/WB and CI/Niue) for later. Alinor (talk) 06:30, 24 August 2010 (UTC)
I'm not sure how we can treat the Cook Islands and Niue separately, they are in exactly the same situation legally, one just simply seems to have exercised its powers more frequently. Besides that there is really no distinction.
As for their status, they are not dependencies, but don't make sweeping statement like they are accepted by the international community. We have no proof what they are generally accepted as. At any rate, don't bring that up here. Chipmunkdavis (talk) 08:52, 24 August 2010 (UTC)
I agree that what ever is done must apply to both, it will be even more problematic if we upgrade one to a sovereign state whilst another remains a territory. BritishWatcher (talk) 10:17, 24 August 2010 (UTC)
The thing is i am not convinced changing these two entities to full sovereign states in line with countries like France and the USA is an improvement or justified. There is justification for moving it to the states with limited recognition section and doing that will be far less disputed and a less dramatic change. Its one of the things that worries me about wikipedia that overnight an entity can see its status changed from basically a territory to a full blown sovereign state. As for Kosovo i do not believe it belongs in the main list until the international community has fully recognised it. We will not have to wait long for that day, but until then it doesnt belong with fully recognized sovereign states. BritishWatcher (talk) 10:17, 24 August 2010 (UTC)
I also agree that CI/Niue have the same status.
There are no "overnight changes" - the "changes" for CI/Niue happened in the 1965-1994 period, not in 2010...
Anyway, let's focus on the sorting criteria. Alinor (talk) 10:59, 24 August 2010 (UTC)
Whether or not a country is a "full sovereign state" like France only depends on how you define what makes France a "full sovereign state" in the first place. If explicit recognition by 50% of the world's states is required then CI and Niue are not full sovereign states, but then again neither is Nauru. If UN membership is the thing, then Nauru is but now Vatican City isn't. If it's participation in the UN system like we've described above, then they're all full sovereign states. If it's some other criteria then you get a different batch of countries. Sometimes Taiwan and Kosovo get included, sometimes Liechtenstein and Palau get excluded. There's no one way to define it, and if there was then we would never need to have this discussion in the first place.
What makes a "full sovereign state" as you've put it (i.e. what belongs in the first section) is precisely what we're debating now. So saying "we shouldn't use a crtieria that treats CI and Niue as full sovereign states because I don't think they're full sovereign states" is circular reasoning. The way we need to approach this is by finding a set of criteria which are WP:NPOV, WP:V, and WP:NOR. Forget other pages and theoretical pissed off future editors. All we need to do is get a solid set of criteria and then we can let the states fall where they may. Orange Tuesday (talk) 14:17, 24 August 2010 (UTC)
Maybe not explicit recognition, but implied recognition. But this has been debated before. If a WP:V is wanted, why don't we just find some WP:RS with similar lists, compare, and see which ones are affected by a particular POV. Chipmunkdavis (talk) 14:24, 24 August 2010 (UTC)
"Implied recognition" is just another concept which depends entirely on the defintion. Here's a definition of implied recognition that would bump Palestine up to well over 50% but would leave Nauru back in limited recognition territory: [16]. I imagine your definition is different than this one, but what makes yours better than theirs or vice versa?
As for reliable sources, which ones do you suggest we examine? And what counts as being "affected by a particular POV"? Take the CIA World Factbook, for example. Is it affected by a pro-Kosovo POV or are other sources affected by a pro-Serbia POV? How about pro-Georgia POV vs. pro-Abkhazia POV? And how do we interpret the entry on Taiwan? Orange Tuesday (talk) 14:44, 24 August 2010 (UTC)

(edit-conflict) (coming here as a result of a posting elsewhere). The British Foreign Office uses criteria for whether a state an be recognised, including:

  • Whether it is self-governing
  • Whether it conducts its own international relations

Kansas is self-governing, but has no international relations, so it is not recognised as a sovereign state. This also sapplies to certain Native American nations within USA: though they are sovereign by treaty with USA, they have no foreign reations (except with USA). This would similarly apply to Jersey and Gibraltar, in the case of a foreign country that used the same criteria: their foreign relations are conducted by the UK. Kosovo meets both criteria, so that it is recognised. Taiwan is self-governing, not officially recognised on the basis that it is part of China. I suspect that if this test were used Cook Islands and Niue would appear fall into a similar category to the native Americans and Jersey: internally they are sovereign, but NZ conducts their foreign relations. For Kosovo, I do not think we can wait until every one has recognised them: Serbia probably never will. Peterkingiron (talk) 14:28, 24 August 2010 (UTC)

The Cook Island conduct their own international relations, Niue probably does to. As for Kosovo, putting it in now would be highly controversial, and probably also highly debatable. Anyway, that explains why the UK recognizes Kosovo. Chipmunkdavis (talk) 14:33, 24 August 2010 (UTC)
Niue definitely does. If you look at the proposed criteria above you'll see it participates in all the same international bodies as the Cook Islands (with the exception of one. IMO maybe?) Orange Tuesday (talk) 14:49, 24 August 2010 (UTC)
Both Cook Islands and Niue have their own diplomatic offices in other states (including New Zealand) and conduct international relations like any other sovereign state, with High Commissioners and consuls and the like. Ladril (talk) 15:29, 24 August 2010 (UTC)
Niue has no diplomatic officers accredited to other states, only to international organizations and these can be counted on one hand (i looked at showed only 2 accredited diplomats posted outside new zealand).XavierGreen (talk) 16:26, 24 August 2010 (UTC)
Keep in mind that these two states have two important considerations: cost and that they are just emerging out into the international arena. Their diplomatic affairs are still in the initial stages. The fact remains that Niue has diplomatic relations with New Zealand and at least another two states[17]. Also Niue has relations with the PRC at an "ambassadorial level" [18]Ladril (talk) 18:02, 24 August 2010 (UTC)
Despite the fact that they have diplomatic relations the government of Niue has no accredited agents in the countries it has relations with beyond New Zealand. I know a couple countries have agents accredited to Niue, but Niue itself has none outside of New Zealand. Another interseting aspect would be to see what the extent of the diplomatic relations Niue has with other countries are, for example has the PRC had any signifigant contact with Niue beyond getting assurances that Niue would not persue relations with the ROC?XavierGreen (talk) 18:53, 24 August 2010 (UTC)


Tuvalu also has very few embassies (one more than Niue).
About PRC - I don't think it is useful to judge about the significance of relations between states (but as a side note Tuvalu has only one embassy - that of RoC, most likely for the same reasons as you cite above for PRC-Niue - I don't think this does diminish its status as a state) - of course that any relations with Cook Islands, Tuvalu, Nauru and especially the smallest Niue are of small importance to the rest of the World - I think that the number of missions/accreditations/declared recognitions for all of these is proportional to their size/importance - you can't expect Equatorial Guinea to have a mission in Niue. Alinor (talk) 05:36, 25 August 2010 (UTC)
Sorry, I have gone off-topic again. We have discussed CI/Niue widely already - see in the archive. I agree with Orange Tuesday - let's set the crtieria and afterwards we will discuss what entity goes where and why. Alinor (talk) 05:39, 25 August 2010 (UTC)
Xavier, what I'm trying to say is that despite a (purported) lack of diplomatic representatives in other countries, Niue has an agreement with another country (China) to have relations at ambassadorial level. The fact that they have not appointed an ambassador to China, if indeed true (sites such as the one you reference are often incomplete and outdated) is still no argument against the statehood of Niue. Ladril (talk) 15:50, 25 August 2010 (UTC)

Wouldn't using a criteria such as this one as a source be WP:SYNTHESIS, if applied in this context? My atlas (2009 ed.) has CI and Niue as 'Associated States' of New Zealand, while New Zealand itself is listed in caps. Rennell435 (talk) 23:48, 24 August 2010 (UTC)

Because of issues raised above (what atlases to use, what to do with discrepancies, etc.) I don't think this suits good. Also, I don't find the Vienna formula, that is very easily verifiable (membership lists of the specialized agencies are public), a synthesis/OR.
It would be interesting if you can find an atlas/source that clearly states its criteria for formulating the list, and whether it is a list of states or a list of territories (as here would come many of the dependent territories like Cayman Islands, Anguilla, etc.) Alinor (talk) 06:06, 25 August 2010 (UTC)
I don't think it is synthesis, because the literature on the statehood of CI and Niue is ample. Besides, I still have to see a single atlas where the ten states in the 'other states' section are listed as states. The "no synthesis" rule does not mean we have to adopt the shortcomings of other secondary sources. Ladril (talk) 15:54, 25 August 2010 (UTC)
As for a source that is quite explicit in its definitions of political status, the Europa World Book, a yearly publication, is excellent. Unfortunately, online access is restricted. Google Books may have a preview, though. Ladril (talk) 23:01, 25 August 2010 (UTC)

Oppose. As pointed out above, the source of origin for such a system has not actually published a list that we can reflect. So, of course it is synthesis. But that's not the only issue. I reject the consolation that any modifications to the formula will remain in place. It is inevitable that somewhere down the track, an editor will raise the issue of our choice to exclude agencies where voting is unequal—and rightly so, because that is not what the original source does. But despite its membership in some agencies, Kosovo remains a contentious entry, and once the issue is raised, it will be moved to sit alongside widely recognised states, including Serbia. This would, in my view, throw the entire list out of proportion. Similarly, despite their membership in some agencies, Niue and the Cook Islands are absent when one takes a look at similar lists in published secondary sources, the cornerstone of WP:V and one of the essential five pillars of Wikipedia. The quality of the list will suffer. If one is to believe that there are shortcomings in published lists, then one will simply have to accept that, and wait for it to change. Finally, the purpose behind the formula (which is here for newcomers) is to determine which states are eligible for UN treaties and conventions, which is not a practical system to employ in this context.

The Other states section, on the other hand, relies on a completely different criteria, and I would suggest perhaps proposing modifications to that as an alternative. Nightw 23:42, 25 August 2010 (UTC)

Another proposal would be, as the German Wikipedia does, to have a single table for all the UN members, the Holy See, the associated states of New Zealand and the other states in a single table. That would eliminate having to make apparent value-judgments about states, if that's what's bothering people. Ladril (talk) 00:05, 26 August 2010 (UTC)
Id strongly oppose a single list. The German page treats the Cook Islands and Niue like Kosovo and other enties that lack full international recognition. Id support moving those two entities to that separate section, the problem for some here is moving these two entities to the main list. The Cook Islands are in no way equal in status to Germany or France. BritishWatcher (talk) 00:20, 26 August 2010 (UTC)
According to the documents we have, both Germany and France regard the Cook Islands as a sovereign state just like them. What's the basis for your statement? Ladril (talk) 00:24, 26 August 2010 (UTC)
They lack full international recognition. They are not members of the United Nations, simply minor organisations of the UN and some other international bodies. They are more in line with Kosovo, which also is recognised by France and Germany than they are with Germany/France who are fully recognised sovereign states and members of the United Nations. These two entities belong in the section with Kosovo and other states with limited recognition, not in our main list. BritishWatcher (talk) 00:55, 26 August 2010 (UTC)
Well, the UN has recognized the status of CK and Niue as states with full treaty-making capacity, which it has done not in the case of Kosovo or any other of the ten 'other states'. As we discussed in another thread, Kosovo may well go down this route in the near future, in which case it would be added into the first list. Ladril (talk) 01:08, 26 August 2010 (UTC)
These two are not treated as full sovereign states inline with France/Germany on the main lists of other major languages. On French they mention it saying they are sometimes included in lists, but the main list on that page does not include them. The German one lists it underneath the main table as a special case like Kosovo and different from the UN member states. Spanish has a single list, but with these two entities in italics unlike fully recognised sovereign states. These two may have treaty making capacity, but that is still different to being a fully recognised member of the international community. BritishWatcher (talk) 01:10, 26 August 2010 (UTC)
  • Oppose - I know i said i wouldnt oppose it but the fact the other european wikis (French, German, and Spanish) do not treat these two entities as full sovereign states in their main list either suggests to me we are doing the right thing. I there for oppose a change to the inclusion criteria for the main list. Niue and the Cook Islands do not belong there. They should however be moved to the section for states with limited recognition. Where their legal status can be explained more clearly. BritishWatcher (talk) 01:17, 26 August 2010 (UTC)
I'm having trouble with your argument, BW. So if we were making this list in, say, 1960, according to your standards East Germany and North Korea would not have been sovereign states? Very many of the world's states did not recognize them back then. Note that I would not object the inclusion of these two into any of the two lists, but I want to make sure the rationale for this proposal is well understood. Ladril (talk) 01:30, 26 August 2010 (UTC)
If many of the states did not fully recognise them then they would belong in the separate list of other states, rather than inline with fully recognised sovereign states. BritishWatcher (talk) 01:50, 26 August 2010 (UTC)
  • Oppose I dont think i would support them being included in the main list under any critera, though i would support them being included into the other states section. They clearly do not have dejure recognition by more than 50% of the fully recognized states.XavierGreen (talk) 04:02, 26 August 2010 (UTC)

Support Vienna formula(option4 below) - I have already explained my position. What I don't understand is what these that oppose are proposing? To keep the current "widely recognized" sorting criteria? This is unverifiable (as explained in previous discussions) and also I don't agree that "widely"=50% ("wide recognition" is not a vote, but if we should use numerical terms maybe it should be relative majority or some substantial supermajority). Additionally the big disadvantages of using UN membership as sorting criteria were broadly discussed on numeral occasions already. Also, if we stick to the "50%" criteria then Palestine should go into section1. In the beginning I was proposing a three step sorting (two in section1, one in section2) that was improving somewhat this vague criteria, but the current Vienna formula proposal is much much better than my proposal. Also I don't see how referring to UN members list + UN observer states list (current sorting criteria use this, but are not so clearly formulated) is not synthesis, but referring to UN agencies members lists is synthesis. The only potential OR/POV element in the current proposal is the non-equal voting agencies exclusion note - and this is easily correctable. Anyway, we have the following options:

  1. Keep current sorting criteria - poorly defined and thus unverifiable
  2. Keep current sorting criteria with better definition (remove unverifiable adjectives like widely, define as UN members list + UN observer states list) - POV problems by duplicating the UN list, etc.
  3. Change sorting criteria with a variant of the no-adjectives proposal [19] based on state disputes - this is a complicated definition (can be accused of synthesis/OR/etc.) and thus hard to verify
  4. Change sorting criteria with Vienna forumla - very easily verifiable; already used by many international treaties and organizations
    • non-equal-voting exclusion note - does not impact verifiability, but no precedents of usage in either direction (so far not used, but it was not relevant before Kosovo IMF membership. If Kosovo applies for membership in an organization that has adopted the Vienna formula - then we will see if such exclusion note will be implemented or not) - IMHO this is the only disadvantage of the Vienna formula, but having in mind its advantages and the fact that the disadvantage is easily correctable in either direction without big changes - I propose using the Vienna formula without exclusion note (as so far it is not used) initially and later, if somebody wants to put such note we will discuss it (or we will follow the precedent and include/exclude depending on future precedent with the decision about Kosovo membership in a Vienna formula organization/convention). Alinor (talk) 06:20, 26 August 2010 (UTC)
There's also the option of matching our list against those in published reliable sources. Get three, four, or five together and see if our list matches those in regards to the first section. I guarantee we won't have to make any changes in that method —which is why I also reject that the current list is unverifiable. Nightw 06:57, 26 August 2010 (UTC)
Alinor is correct. Those who object to the proposal above need to suggest alternatives. If the current criteria is so easily verified, then why hasn't it been verified to date? Show us sources supporting the claim that Israel is "widely recognized" and Palestine has "limited recognition". That's what we're claiming, so that needs to be supported. Currently, no sources on the page do. However, the real problem is that these terms have no precise meaning and can be interpreted in many ways. For every source you find, I could find one stating that Israel has "limited recognition" and Palestine is "widely recognized".
If you read the wiki policy on list criteria WP:LSC, they state: "the selection criteria will be unambiguous, objective, and supported by reliable sources." "Widely recognized" versus "limited recognition" is ambiguous, unobjective, and unsupported by RS. This conversation alone has proven that. How many different interpretations have we seen above? Some have used % recognition, others degree of control over foreign affairs. If the half dozen of us here can't even agree what our criteria means, how can we expect the reader to understand? The above proposal, on the other hand, is unambiguous, objective and supported by RS.
Matching our list against those produced by reliable sources has it's own set of issues. How do we choose which sources to match? Choosing a select few, at the expense of others, wouldn't be neutral. But I could likely find a RS listing nearly every state in the "Other states" section on their main list. For instance, Kosovo is listed as a sovereign state on "World Fact Book". That would require us to put it in the main list (a position many editors have expressed discomfort with). And the argument that we should follow the lead of other wiki's isn't valid. Wiki's are by definition not reliable sources and thus SHOULDN'T be used.
As per Night's argument about synthesis, this isn't accurate. WP:SYN forbids drawing conclusions by synthesizing facts from two sources. But that's not what we are doing. We are just using the "Vienna formula" as inspiration for our criteria. Nowhere is it stated that "These states are widely recognized SINCE they satisfy the Vienna formula". That WOULD be synthesis and inappropriate. However, what we say is "Here are the states which take part in the UN system". All we are concluding is that they take part in the UN system, not that they are widely recognized. Hence, no synthesis. And to those who claim the above proposal requires synthesis, you should consider the degree of synthesis required by current criteria. I challenge you to provide a reliable source explicity stating all of the following (for say Micronesia):
  • has a permanent population
  • has a defined territory
  • had a government
  • has the capacity to enter into relations with the other states (whatever that means)
  • has declared independence
  • AND that due to all of the above they are a "sovereign state"
  • it's "widely recognized"
And, as bonus challenge, you need to find all of that in a single source so that you aren't breaking WP:SYN. That's what we are claiming, but sourcing this seems impossible to me. The proposal above, while not perfect, would solve a lot of our WP:V issues. TDL (talk) 08:13, 26 August 2010 (UTC)
Just make the main list United Nations member states + the Vatican if the criteria needs to be better explained. Either way, These two entities do not belong in the main list. BritishWatcher (talk) 09:09, 26 August 2010 (UTC)
We can't use individual country name in a sorting criteria (Vatican). And using only the UN list has various disadvantages (see here and also here and above). Alinor (talk) 10:10, 26 August 2010 (UTC)
Just a comment on the question of sourcing. Saying that an entity's political status is defined by an atlas or some similar source is something I find fallacious. Wikipedia relies preferably on secondary sources like academic books and articles. Otherwise, articles such as Political status of Taiwan, which form the basis for the contentious entries on the list, would not exist. The alternative is simply to find a Chinese atlas where Taiwan is not listed as a state and voilá, we can take it off the list. But I don't think that's what we want to do. Ladril (talk) 15:37, 26 August 2010 (UTC)
If the state of palestine is recognized by more than 50% of soveriegn states than it should be included in the main section.XavierGreen (talk) 15:47, 26 August 2010 (UTC)
Have you seen the State of Palestine in a map or atlas, Xavier? Ladril (talk) 15:57, 26 August 2010 (UTC)
So you're suggesting using % recognition as the criteria. It's a good idea in theory, and has been discussed extensively above, but in practice has several serious issues which make implementation impossible. Number one, there was no consensus on what percentage cutoff to use. Some suggested 50%, others 2/3 (the % required for UN membership). Number two, it's impossible to verify. How many explicit recognitions of Nauru can we find? The reality is that most countries haven't felt it worth their effort to make an explicit recognition. That doesn't mean they don't recognize them, just that they haven't formally put out a press release to announce their position to us. So its unclear if they are >50% or not. In fact, I suspect you'd have problems finding 50% explicit recognitions for nearly every country on the list. It's only in cases of disputed sovereignty, when recognition takes on a heightened importance, that a big deal is made out of formal recognitions. So while this seems like a good idea, if we can't verify whether a state satisfies the criteria it's not very useful. TDL (talk) 16:11, 26 August 2010 (UTC)
Then i would suggest the following, for the main list use members of the un general assembly and countries for which greater than 50% of all states recognize. By being a member of the general assembly it is required that at lest 2/3rds of nations see the member states as soveriegn peers.XavierGreen (talk) 16:19, 26 August 2010 (UTC)
OK, but that doesn't address the issue. It's still impossible verify whether non-UN members satisfy the criteria. How many formal recognitions of the Vatican City can you produce? Or Palestine? Or the SADR? The answers to these questions aren't clear. Many of the "recognitions" of Palestine were intentionally vague, with no explicit statement of recognition. Some states which have recognized the SADR have since implicitly retracted their recognition.
This was the logic that led us to the Vienna formula. Admission to one of the specialised UN agencies is an implicit recognition of the state as sovereign by their peers, just like you mentioned for admission to the UN. The difference is that politics (ie vetos on the security council) can keep otherwise deserving entities out of the UN and thus UN memberships alone isn't a neutral criteria. But there are no vetos in the specialised agencies, so membership in these bodies is a much more neutral (and easily verifiable) criteria. TDL (talk) 16:29, 26 August 2010 (UTC)
If a country can not become a member of the UN then there is a case for treating them differently and putting them in the "Other state" options. First list = UN member states + Vatican. Second list (disputed/states with limited recognition) for all other sovereign entities. That is fair. Much fairer than us setting some kind of inclusion code which says a certain amount of recognition or membership of unimportant bodies gets you into the first list. BritishWatcher (talk) 16:40, 26 August 2010 (UTC)
So if Kosovo was recognized by ever state but Russia, and Russia vetoed their entry to the UN you think we should still list Kosovo in the other states? That seems highly POVish to me. Why is Russia's position more important than all 191 other states combined?
As Alinor stated above, your not proposal (UN members +VC) isn't a criteria, it's the list itself. You need to suggest a metric against which we can measure each state to see if they qualify, not that states you want on the main list. We can't say: "You get in the main list if you are a UN member, or if you happen to be the Vatican City". That's not objective. That's your POV of who should be in the list. TDL (talk) 16:51, 26 August 2010 (UTC)
Yep. If Russia does not accept Kosovo and if China does not accept Taiwan then they do not belong on the main list. of course that is unfair, but its how the United Nations operates and that is a more authoritative body than us sitting here on Wikipedia deciding how sovereign a country is by being selective about which organisations we take into account or not and how many states it takes to recognise something before it is deserving of the main list. If the main list is UN members it takes it out of our hands, and is far easier to defend than the proposed inclusion criteria which was specifically designed to get these two entities on the main list whilst keeping some others off it. BritishWatcher (talk) 16:58, 26 August 2010 (UTC)
If we adopt those standards, we can agree to move the Holy See to the 'Other states' section. Ladril (talk) 17:13, 26 August 2010 (UTC)
It has nothing to do with being fair. It has everything to do with being neutral. Your statement that the UN GA is authoritative couldn't be more wrong. They are a biased, and non-neutral, organization. It's a political body, with political motivations. The fact that a single state can dictate UN GA policy clearly demonstrates this. If every reliable source stated that Kosovo was sovereign, but the UN didn't admit them due to a veto, it would be ludicrous to exclude them. By including specialised agency members we get around the non-neutral veto issue.
The proposed criteria isn't designed to get CI/Niue on the main list. If you read the archives carefully, you will clearly see that I argued strongly that under the current criteria CI/Niue belong in the other states section. It was also me who first proposed the "Vienna formula" as our criteria. If my agenda was to get CI/Niue on the main list, why would I have been advocating against their inclusion on the main list in the first place? My only agenda is to make this list verifiable, instead of being based on the POV of a half dozen editors on the talk page. If you've got an objective and verifiable criteria which happens to put CI/Niue in the other states section I'd be happy to consider it. But you've yet to give us anything to work with.
In fact, as Ladril accurately points out, including only UN-members would exclude VC. You have proposed an inclusion criteria (UN-members+VC) "which was specifically designed to get VC on the main list whilst keeping some others off it", with no objective justification, just the crime you accused me of. TDL (talk) 17:32, 26 August 2010 (UTC)
The primary objection that i have to using membership in an organization as the criteria for inclusion is that a nation can still be universally recognized as soveriegn and not be a member out of choice.XavierGreen (talk) 18:52, 26 August 2010 (UTC)
You have something of a point Xavier. That's why I was mentioning that reference works prior to 2004 did not sort states according to U.N. membership. They just listed all entities purporting to be such with the corresponding qualifications. One problem we have now is that, since practically all the widely recognized states are part of the U.N., people tend to conflate statehood with U.N. membership. But I'm sure the majority of us remember a time when this was not the case. Ladril (talk) 21:47, 26 August 2010 (UTC)
It's certainly a valid concern. However, the current proposal tries to address this by considering membership in a broad range of organizations as opposed to just UN membership (which is essentially what we are using now). It's much less likely that a state will choose to remain outside of >10 organizations than it is for a state to choose to remain outside of just the UN proper. Ladril's point that in the recent past not all widely recognized states were members of the UN is obviously true. Switzerland, for example, only joined in 2002. However, this is negated by including the specialised agencies in our criteria. Switzerland was a member of UNSESCO (for example) since 1949 and thus would have satisfied our criteria in spite of not being a UN member. The same is true of the Vatican City today. It's not a member of the UN, but satisfies our criteria due to membership in multiple specialised agencies. TDL (talk) 00:48, 27 August 2010 (UTC)
Something that may help would be to automatically put any state that has statements from more than 50% of soveriegn nations citing non-recognition in the other states list, in other words the opposite of the 50%+1 criteria.XavierGreen (talk) 03:16, 27 August 2010 (UTC)
Finding the 'declared' either recognitions or non-recognitions is difficult and even impossible in many cases. Finding sources for the 'non-declared' even more so. That's why we have problem with the 50%+1 recognitions (or any numerical criteria). I am not sure what will happen with the 50%+1 non-recognitions. There are plenty of declarations for Kosovo, Taiwan, Palestine (let's put aside if these are vague or not), maybe there are also for the rest of the 'other' states. For Cyprus/Armenia/Israel/China/Koreas we have enough. OK up to here. For the rest of the current 'section1' states appearently there are no non-recognitions. Could we use such "lack of non-recognition"?
In any case I think that numerical formulas (in either direction) are much closer to OR/synthesis and much harder to verify than the Vienna formula. Additionally there are the precedents in organizations and conventions of using Vienna formula - in comparision to no precedents of counting declarations of recognition/non-recognition (this is different from the direct voting used in organizations). Not to mention the problem of where should the barrier stand - 30%, 50%, 70%, etc. Alinor (talk) 11:38, 27 August 2010 (UTC)
I totally agree with your concern about picking a random number of where we decide a state is sovereign enough to be in the main list. Using the UN is the simplest way of splitting the list. UN member states (+ Vatican) / other states with limited recognition. BritishWatcher (talk) 11:44, 27 August 2010 (UTC)
Reasons why using UN list is not appropriate are directly above. Same for the "+ Vatican" - this is not a criteria. Alinor (talk) 13:50, 27 August 2010 (UTC)
I think the UN+Vatican criteria used by many atlases is based upon UN states + states that no UN country claims as part of their own territory. Chipmunkdavis (talk) 14:58, 27 August 2010 (UTC)
Yes, that's what I was proposing previously (option3), but it is complicated to implement and thus has synthesis/OR accusations and is hard to verify (in contrast to Vienna formula). Alinor (talk) 15:21, 27 August 2010 (UTC)
...But the Vienna formula is not the proposal, rather a modified version of it. Therefore, whether the proposed idea would be verifiable is questionable. Nightw 19:29, 27 August 2010 (UTC)
I'm glad someone finally pointed that out.Outback the koala (talk) 05:41, 28 August 2010 (UTC)
It's not the criteria that needs to be verifiable. It's whether the states satisfy that criteria that needs to be verifiable. Currently, we claim the main list is composed of "widely recognized" states. Thus, we need a source to support this claim for every state (which is likely impossible). In the proposal above, all we claim is that they are a member of one of several organizations. Verification is trivially done by checking these organization's websites.
In theory, we could divide the states however we so choose (continent, language, colour of flag). But we need to do it in a way such that we can prove via RS which category each state belongs to. All we've done here is use the Vienna formula as inspiration. That being said, if it would help produce a consensus I wouldn't object to using a strict interpretation of the "Vienna formula". The discussion on this previously didn't result in a consensus. It was just felt that it would be simpler to get a consensus without including this issue, and that we would could discuss minor modifications after we had agreed upon the major structure of the criteria. TDL (talk) 20:14, 27 August 2010 (UTC)
It would be. But I'm having trouble believing that it would stay that way if the exclusions were brought up in the future. In any case, this is not my only reason for opposing the proposal. Nightw 21:05, 27 August 2010 (UTC)
OK, so do we have agreement for strict Vienna formula without the exclusions? Alinor (talk) 21:07, 27 August 2010 (UTC)
No. Just so we are all clear, if we strictly followed the Vienna formula what changes to this list would be made? BritishWatcher (talk) 21:19, 27 August 2010 (UTC)
No, I apologise; I haven't been clear. I wish to avoid seeing the strict criteria employed. But I reject the idea that, would the modified version be accepted, it would remain in place (that is, the exclusions may eventually be overturned, with good reason). But as I said, there is also the questionable practicality of using such a system in this context, in addition to the fact that it would see additions to the list that don't appear in those of reliable published sources. Nightw 21:25, 27 August 2010 (UTC)
Well of course consensus could change. But that doesn't mean we should avoid doing the proper thing now. I'll pose the question again. To those who object, how do you suggest making this list neutral and verifiable? TDL (talk) 21:31, 27 August 2010 (UTC)
The main list should be of UN member states, then all other states who are not members of the UN should be in the "other states" section. That is neutral (for wikipedia, as in we are not defining what is and is not recognised enough) and it is verifiable. BritishWatcher (talk) 21:35, 27 August 2010 (UTC)
In addition also, of course, to its applicability. We are compiling a list of sovereign states, but the formula is not designed for determining "which states are sovereign states", it rather determines which states should be parties to UN treaties in which contexts. It thus should not—and very arguably cannot—be used as a criteria for something completely different, which is what you're doing when adding Niue and the Cook Islands, whose status as sovereign states (as evinced by the long discussion above) is debatable. Nightw 21:40, 27 August 2010 (UTC)
All the states on the page (and CK and Niue) have a valid claim to statehood as ascertained by reliable sources. Even the statehood of some UN members is debatable according to significant minority viewpoints. The purpose of this proposal is not to distinguish between "valid" and "less valid" states, just in case it wasn't clear. Ladril (talk) 21:50, 27 August 2010 (UTC)
The specific proposal is all to treat Niue and CK a different way, and at the same time as doing that the criteria has been specifically designed to ensure Kosovo stays off. We should just do UN/non UN. That is so much fairer (on our part), it may not be in the real world, but its a reasonable method to use and one that other language wikis do. BritishWatcher (talk) 21:56, 27 August 2010 (UTC)
This argument is slippery. There is nothing "subjective" about saying a state participates in the UN system, just like there is nothing subjective in saying a state is a UN member. There are pros and cons to each proposal. Ladril (talk) 22:43, 27 August 2010 (UTC)
Ladril is correct. The criteria isn't designed to determine "which states are sovereign states" as you state. It's basically designed to sort the states based on their degree of "capacity to enter into relations with the other state", point d) of our inclusion criteria. Participation in the UN system is how we have proposed to measure this.
And as has been stated numerous times, the SORTING criteria is independent of our INCLUSION criteria. If there is no consensus to add CI/Niue to the list, then a new SORTING criteria has no effect on their status on the list.
So BritishWatcher, you are suggesting that Vatican City get moved to the "other states" section? While I agree that using UN membership is easily verified, it's not neutral. There are many political reasons why a state could choose to remain out, or be kept out, of the UN despite being widely recognized. TDL (talk) 22:00, 27 August 2010 (UTC)
And how would it be determined whether a state fulfills the inclusion criteria? Nightw 22:10, 27 August 2010 (UTC)
That's a whole other debate that has yet to even be broached during the current discussion. I'd like to come up with some neutral and verifiable criteria for that as well, but I've got no new ideas on how we could do this. In the past, I suggested that we require recognition by at least one UN member for inclusion on the list, (this would prove they satisfy criteria d)), but the consensus was against this. But I think that we'd be best to try and focus on one thing at a time. TDL (talk) 22:25, 27 August 2010 (UTC)
We cannot determine which states are sovereign ourselves. That's a matter of academic debate and the policies of individual states. We can add states argued to be such by reliable sources that treat the subject in sufficient depth. That's how an encyclopedia is supposed to operate. Ladril (talk) 22:39, 27 August 2010 (UTC)
I'm trying hard to separate this proposal from the issues surrounding Niue and the Cook Islands, but the two agendas are inseparable. In my opinion, the first section of this list should reflect others in neutral publications. At present, it does that, so I'm apprehensive about changing anything (or proposing any alternative) because I don't believe that there is anything fundamentally wrong with the current setup. If the proposed changes to the criteria were made, it would result in a list that would be inconsistent with reliable published sources, and therefore also with WP:V. I cannot support a system that would result in a list that would be contrary to reliable sources. Nightw 22:47, 27 August 2010 (UTC)
It does seem like the two agendas are inseparable here, and supported by the same editors. The issues and both definitely linked. Outback the koala (talk) 05:45, 28 August 2010 (UTC)
"neutral publications"
Such as? Ladril (talk) 22:51, 27 August 2010 (UTC)
The Times and Oxford both produce lists in the appendices of their atlases. Those are just two examples. Nightw 23:00, 27 August 2010 (UTC)
It wouldn't be contrary to sources since we would be claiming different things. My point is that it is impossible to neutrally list "widely recognized" states since the term has no real meaning. Hence I'm suggesting that instead we list the states which participate in the UN system. There would be no claim that these states are "widely recognized". The problem right now is that we claim to be doing something that is impossible to do. TDL (talk) 23:03, 27 August 2010 (UTC)
Nothing guarantees the neutrality of materials produced by organizations outside Wikipedia. The neutrality of article content must be established by consensus among editors. This is one of the main reasons Wikipedia calls us 'editors' and not 'copyists'. It's because participating in Wikipedia involves an editorial process, where we have to make decisions related to content. The reliable sources guideline does not simply mean we have to copy and paste other sources (and their mistakes and omissions). Your position in this debate seems akin to saying that a List of video games can only be made if it's exactly the same as that found in Mobygames (which while far-reaching, is far from complete). Ladril (talk) 23:05, 27 August 2010 (UTC)
Well lets not use "widely recognised" and simply say UN members. Id only support going by membership of the UN General Assembly + vatican which has special observer status as a non member state. I can not support using the "UN system" if it means membership of any of the minor UN bodies. BritishWatcher (talk) 23:15, 27 August 2010 (UTC)
As has repeatedly been pointed out, the problem is with the "+". Several of us do not seem convinced that inserting the "+" is more neutral than going with the proposal. Especially since it seems to want to add a state in an ad hoc way with little real rationale behind it. As a note, being an "observer" does not make you a member of an organization any more than any other state. Several states are observers of ASEAN but you would not want to argue that they are members. Ladril (talk) 23:24, 27 August 2010 (UTC)
This is not simply an issue of neutrality; content has to be verified, and the neutrality of sources only becomes an issue when an editor calls it into question. When content here is contrary to related information published in respectable sources that are commonly considered authoratative and reliable, then something is obviously wrong... especially if one cannot verify it with even one reliable source. Nightw 23:26, 27 August 2010 (UTC)
Verifiability means that the facts being mentioned on a page must be backed up by reliable sources (what 'reliable' means is determined by reasoned consensus among editors, this is how this encyclopedia works). What is being proposed is a way to organize the states on the list based on reliable sources (in this case UN documents). It's roughly the same thing that has been done on List of states with limited recognition. It cannot be judged as original research because it's based on external materials. Ladril (talk) 23:43, 27 August 2010 (UTC)
Except that I'm not pushing a single source, as you're suggesting I am. I'm saying take a look at any similar list in any respectable publication, and if you (read: you) believe that they are all incomplete, then you'll just have to wait until something changes. Until then, I cannot support original research. Nightw 23:31, 27 August 2010 (UTC)
Here goes the wikilawyering again. No one is proposing original research. The problem is that your proposal is incorrect and impractical because sources are bound to disagree on these kind of topics (these are not '2+2=4' subjects, we are not going to find one source which is 100 % objective). Wikipedia editors need to apply editorial criteria. Your position is a misinterpretation of the policies and guidelines. Ladril (talk) 23:49, 27 August 2010 (UTC)
How many Wikipedians does it take to change a light globe? It depends on whether we have consensus on what a light globe is.  :P Kransky (talk) 10:39, 28 August 2010 (UTC)

About the issue of "verifiability means that our list should be the same as a list in reputable source" - how many atlases can you find that have in their list of sovereign states all of these: Taiwan+Kosovo+Somaliland+Sahrawi Republic+Transnistria+Nagorno Karabakh+Abkhazia+South Ossetia+Palestine+Northern Cyprus? They are currently in the our list. They will remain regardless of the SORTING criteria (they can be removed only if we change INCLUSION criteria, but we are not discussing that here). I think you will find none such atlases/sources (unless they themselves copy from wikipedia - such things have happend). The problem with direct copying from atlases/sources - we need an atlas/source that not only lists the states, but describes the criteria for inclusion (and sorting if they are divided somehow) adopted - otherwise we will not make a "list of sovereign states", but a "list of entities considered sovereign states by the CIA WorldFactbook/insert-prefered-source-name-here/etc.". Alinor (talk) 13:03, 28 August 2010 (UTC) And as consequence - different sources will have different lists, etc. Alinor (talk) 13:13, 28 August 2010 (UTC)

You've completely misunderstood the situation. Kosovo, Somaliland, etcetera, are all in the second section. I'm talking about cross-referencing the items in the first section... you know, the section currently under discussion... Repeating what I'd said above, "In my opinion, the first section of this list should reflect others in neutral publications." As for your other comment, better a "list of entities considered sovereign states by [blank]", than "list of entities considered eligible for international treaties by the United Nations". Nightw 15:58, 28 August 2010 (UTC)
No, we are not discussing the first section - we are discussing whether and if yes, how/into what sections to divide the whole list. Also, AFAIK most atlases/etc. have a single list - they don't have sections such as "standart"(?) and "others" (if you know some atlas with such sections - it would be interesting to see what these section names are - maybe we could use these names as sorting criteria). Some sources just list Kosovo, some don't. Some list TRNC, some don't. Etc. So there is no section that we can copy - only whole lists.
No, it is not better a "list of ... by [blank]" as choosing [blank] is impossible in a NPOV way. And Vienna formula is not "list of entities considered eligible for international treaties by the United Nations", but by the organizations that utilize it (not the UN itself) and by the groups of countries that utilize it in treaties they make and sign. And these groups consist of many many states. Alinor (talk) 16:32, 28 August 2010 (UTC)
Night, you're completely missing the point of what verifibility means. We aren't here to simply ape others work. The point is, every statement we make has to be backed up by sources, not that we have to reproduce others work. Currently, we claim that every state on our main list is "widely recognized" yet not a single source backs this up. You mention that this list is currently in agreement with reliable sources, but you've yet to provide any sources. Please provide a source which explicitly states that the 193 listed are "widely recognized" while the others are not. The CIA factbook, for one, lists Kosovo as a sovereign state. Are you simply ignoring this RS? Also, there is no such thing as a neutral source. By definition everyone has a POV. All we can do is represent all (mainstream) POV's. But your conention that there are neutral sources out there that we merely need to find them is unfortunately not true.
As has been pointed out, the proposal above would not be in disagreement with RS, since we would be using a different criteria to measure different things. There would be no claim that the main list is widely recognized states. If we decided to list the states by the colour of their flag would you be up in arms because of an alleged dissagrement with RS? TDL (talk) 04:48, 30 August 2010 (UTC)
Yep, sorry to reiterate other people's points, but the following are my position:
1. No original research means you can't just pull arguments out of your ass and put them in articles. They must be published arguments made by qualified people. It doesn't mean you have to copy other sources verbatim. Indeed, doing this very thing is discouraged. You can't just copy the Forbes list of rich people and paste it here, for example. Wikipedia pages ought to have their own identity and copyright.
2. Lists are a way to organize the information entered into Wikipedia by way of reliable sources. Policies and guidelines do not state that lists themselves have to be organized using criteria preferred by other sources. As long as the organizing criterion is objective and verifiable (and useful for the readers of this encyclopedia), it is a valid criterion. Ladril (talk) 15:11, 30 August 2010 (UTC)