States with limited recognition

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State Attributes

United Nations Organization membership (now 193 members) and sovereign control over two-letter Country-Code top level Internet domain (now 198) are usual attributes of sovereign state.

UN membership

Now UN has 193 members and 2 non-member states with observer status.

UN member status for a state should be approved by General Assembly and Security Council including all 5 its permanent members (G5: China, France, Russia, UK, USA). But UN General Assembly can recognize an entity as non-member state by simple majority without consensus in G5.

Palestine and Vatican are recognized by UN General Assembly as non-member states and observers. Palestinian membership application was rejected by some UN SC members. Vatican does not apply not to lose any piece of sovereignty (so did Switzerland till 2002).

Taiwan (Republic of China) was replaced in UN by People's Republic of China in 1971. It has 19 full diplomatic recognitions by current UN members. Its UN membership application of 2007 was not put to General Assembly by UN Secretary General.

Niue and Cook Islands have sovereign diplomatic relations with several countries and membership in some UN agencies but do not apply for UN member or observer status not to lose New Zealand citizenship rights for their population. So, both of them are partly dependent territories.

All of 5 above mentioned countries have full control over their Internet domains.

Kosovo is recognized by more than half UN members and is member of some UN agencies, but not enough support to apply for UN membership. Kosovo has separate telephone code but never had CC TLD. On May 6, 2009 Kosovo membership in the International Monetary Fund (IMF) was adopted with 96 countries voting in favor, 8 against (Angola, Azerbaijan, Cyprus, El Salvador, Georgia, Greece, Pakistan, Romania, Slovak Republic, and Venezuela), 32 submitted written abstentions, 47 did not vote. On June 29, 2009 Kosovo became member of IMF and World Bank (and it seems enough for UN Statistics Department to include it in the List of States).


Two-letter domain can be delegated by ICANN to national domain registry after including country-code to United Nations List of Country Names and International Organization for Standardization (ISO) list. More than 50 dependent territories have two-level codes administered by parent state.

Western Sahara national government is recognized by almost half UN members but not by ICANN, its .eh domain is frozen.

International recognition procedure (ISO, UN)

ISO can include new country to its list after Working Group on Country Names of United Nations Group of Experts on Geographical Names has included it into the UNGEGN List of Country Names (latest versions - August 2012, May 2014, July 2017, March 2019). The main differences between 2019 and 2017 list are Eswatini instead of Swaziland, North Macedonia instead of FYR Macedonia adding The State of Palestine as 195th entry. It seems that the next list will be prepared to 2nd Session of UNGEGN (May 3-7, 2021, NY, USA).

Current independence referenda

25.09.2017 - Iraqi Kurdistan. Kurdistan Regional Government has full control over three-letter domain .krd (including subdomain).

01.10.2017 - Catalonia. Has three-letter 'culture and language' domain .cat delegated to local private fund.

States with limited recognition

UN members, UN observers (Vatican, Palestine) and non-UN states (Taiwan - Republic of China), who control their CC-TLDs are not included.

1st level: non-UN states recognised by at least one UN member state (5)

State             Regarded by as its part   Recognized by UN members                    Suggested domain zone
Abkhazia          Georgia                   Russia - 26.08.2008, Nicaragua, Venezuela,
                                            Nauru, Syria - 29.05.2018 (5)     
                                            withdrawn: Tuvalu, Vanuatu (2, total of 7)
Kosovo            Serbia                    111 UN-members since 18.02.2008   
Northern Cyprus   Cyprus                    Turkey (1) - 15.11.1983           
Sahrawi ADR       Morocco                   84 UN-members since 28.02.1976    
South Ossetia     Georgia                   Russia - 26.08.2008, Nicaragua, Venezuela,
                                            Nauru, Syria - 29.05.2018  (5);
                                            withdrawn: Tuvalu (1, total of 6)

2nd level: non-UN states recognised by at least one 1st level limitedly recognized state (2)

State             Regarded by as its part   Recognized by                               Suggested domain zone
Nagorno-Karabakh  Azerbaijan                Abkhazia, Pridnestrovie, South Ossetia (3)
Pridnestrovie     Moldova                   Abkhazia, Nagorno-Karabakh,       
 (Transnistria)                             South Ossetia (3)