This article proposes a typology of causal mechanisms whereby transnational relations of recognition constitute conflict actors in frozen conflicts. While the agency of an emerging conflict actor manifests itself in ‘struggles for recognition’ motivated by experiences of ‘disrespect’, responses from different significant others vary in terms of motivations and pathways (mechanisms of recognition). Adapting Honneth’s tripartite division, the typology distinguishes between four forms of recognition: thin cognitive recognition, ‘respect’/rights, ‘esteem’/difference, and ‘love’/empathy. Three transnational corrections are made in order to include transnational relations of recognition, non-state actors, and unstructured social-relational forms of international/transnational recognition. The typology is applied to the conflict of Western Sahara, which has been reshaped by the rise of internal Sahrawi pro-independence groups (based inside the territory annexed by Morocco) as an increasingly relevant conflict actor, with their identity shifting from victims to human rights activists to activists involved in an unsolved conflict. This identity and social-status formation has been the product of transnational recognition from three significant others: the annexing state (Morocco), the contested state-in-exile (SADR), and the international community. The overall effect of intermingling recognition processes, including various instrumental initiatives deprived of mutuality, has been increased struggle and conflict complexity rather than ‘recognitional peace’.
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