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Bottom-up change in frozen conflicts: Transnational struggles and mechanisms of recognition in Western Sahara

  • Irene Fernández-Molina (a1)

Abstract

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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Corresponding author

*Corresponding author. Email: I.F.Molina@exeter.ac.uk

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12 Checkel, Jeffrey T. (ed.), Transnational Dynamics of Civil War (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013) .

13 Gerring, John, ‘The mechanismic worldview: Thinking inside the box’, British Journal of Political Science, 38:1 (2008), p. 178 , emphasised plural added.

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16 Ibid., pp. 92–130.

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20 Ibid., pp. 3–30.

21 McBride, Recognition, pp. 2–3.

22 Honneth, The Struggle for Recognition.

23 Ibid., p. 49.

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33 Ringmar, Erik, ‘Introduction: the international politics of recognition’, in Thomas Lindemann and Erik Ringmar (eds), The International Politics of Recognition (Boulder, CO and London: Paradigm, 2012), pp. 34 .

34 On the state personhood debate or ‘transfer issue’, see, for example, Mattias Iser, ‘Recognition between states? Moving beyond identity politics’, in Daase et al. (eds), Recognition in International Relations, pp. 27–45.

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38 Duncombe, Constance, ‘Representation, recognition and foreign policy in the Iran-US relationship’, European Journal of International Relations, 22:3 (2016), pp. 622645 .

39 Wendt, ‘Why a world state is inevitable’.

40 Brincat, ‘Cosmopolitan recognition’.

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42 Pierre Allan and Alexis Keller, ‘Is a just peace possible without thin and thick recognition?’, in Lindemann and Ringmar (eds), The International Politics of Recognition, pp. 71–84; Aggestam, Karin and Björkdahl, Annika (eds), Rethinking Peacebuilding: The Quest for Just Peace in the Middle East and the Western Balkans (Oxon and New York: Routledge, 2013) .

43 Allan and Keller, ‘Is a just peace possible’, pp. 76–7.

44 See O’Neill, Shane and Smith, Nicholas H. (eds), Recognition Theory as Social Research: Investigating the Dynamics of Social Conflict (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012) .

45 Aggestam and Björkdahl (eds), Rethinking Peacebuilding.

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47 Allan and Keller, ‘Is a just peace possible’, pp. 77–8.

48 Daase et al. (eds), Recognition in International Relations, p. 6.

49 Greenhill, Brian, ‘Recognition and collective identity formation in international politics’, European Journal of International Relations, 14:2 (2008), p. 352 .

50 Point raised by anonymous reviewer.

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53 Caspersen, Nina and Stansfield, Gareth (eds), Unrecognized States in the International System (Oxon and New York: Routledge, 2011) .

54 Geldenhuys, Contested States in World Politics.

55 Caspersen, Nina, ‘Playing the recognition game: External actors and de facto states’, The International Spectator, 44:4 (2009), pp. 4760 .

56 Honneth, The Struggle for Recognition, pp. 92–130.

57 Ringmar, ‘Introduction’, p. 7.

58 Honneth, The Struggle for Recognition, p. 95; Honneth, Axel, ‘Integrity and disrespect: Principles of a conception of morality based on the theory of recognition’, Political Theory, 20:2 (1992), p. 193 .

59 See Brincat, ‘Cosmopolitan recognition’, pp. 14–15.

60 Honneth, ‘Integrity and disrespect’, p. 194.

61 Honneth, The Struggle for Recognition, p. 122.

62 Brincat, ‘Recognition, conflict and the problem of ethical community’, p. 400.

63 Haacke, Jürgen, ‘The Frankfurt School and International Relations: On the centrality of recognition’, Review of International Studies, 31:1 (2005), p. 189 .

64 Daase et al. (eds), Recognition in International Relations, pp. 5–6, 15–16.

65 Honneth, ‘Recognition between states’, pp. 32–3.

66 Murray, Michelle, ‘Differentiating recognition in international politics’, Global Discourse, 4:4 (2014), p. 558 ; Haacke, ‘The Frankfurt School and International Relations’, p. 193.

67 Brincat, ‘Cosmopolitan recognition’, p. 12.

68 Ringmar, ‘Introduction’, p. 7.

69 See translator’s note in Honneth, The Struggle for Recognition, p. viii.

70 Honneth, ‘Recognition between states’, p. 28.

71 Wendt, ‘Why a world state is inevitable’, pp. 511–12.

72 Allan and Keller, ‘Is a just peace possible’; Strömbom, ‘Thick recognition’.

73 Axel Honneth, ‘Rejoinder’, Global Discourse, 4:4 (2014), p. 564.

74 Lindemann, Causes of War, p. 25.

75 Besides Ringmar’s, another fourfold distinction of types of international recognition can be found in Iser, ‘Recognition between states?’, pp. 36–40.

76 See Risse-Kappen, Thomas (ed.), Bringing Transnational Relations Back In: Non-State Actors, Domestic Structures and International Institutions (Ithaca, NY and London: Cornell University Press, 1995) .

77 Checkel (ed.), Transnational Dynamics of Civil War, pp. 5, 8.

78 Heins, Volker, ‘The global politics of recognition’, in Shane O’Neill and Nicholas H. Smith (eds), Recognition Theory as Social Research: Investigating the Dynamics of Social Conflict (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012), p. 213 . See also Brincat, ‘Cosmopolitan recognition’; Dieter Gosewinkel and Dieter Rucht (eds), Transnational Struggles for Recognition: New Perspectives on Civil Society since the Twentieth Century (New York and Oxford: Berghahn Books, 2017).

79 Risse, Thomas, ‘Transnational actors and world politics’, in Walter Carlsnaes, Thomas Risse, and Beth A. Simmons (eds), Handbook of International Relations (2nd edn, Los Angeles and London: SAGE, 2013), p. 430 .

80 Bouris, Dimitris and Fernández-Molina, Irene, ‘Contested states, hybrid diplomatic practices and the everyday quest for recognition’, International Political Sociology, 12:3 (2018), pp. 306324 .

81 Daase et al. (eds), Recognition in International Relations, p. 16.

82 Iser, ‘Recognition between states?’, p. 43.

83 Voller, Yaniv, ‘Contested sovereignty as an opportunity: Understanding democratic transitions in unrecognized states’, Democratization, 22:4 (2015), pp. 612, 614 .

84 Ker-Lindsay, James, ‘Engagement without recognition: the limits of diplomatic interaction with contested states’, International Affairs, 91:2 (2015), pp. 267285 .

85 Daase et al. (eds), Recognition in International Relations, pp. 125–40. See Crawford, James R., The Creation of States in International Law (2nd edn, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006) .

86 Bouris and Fernández-Molina, ‘Contested states’.

87 Daase et al. (eds), Recognition in International Relations, p. 183, emphasis in original.

88 Voller, ‘Contested sovereignty as an opportunity’, p. 614.

89 UN General Assembly, A/RES/34/37, 21 November 1979.

90 Fernández-Molina, ‘Protests under occupation’, p. 237.

91 Fernández-Molina, Irene, Moroccan Foreign Policy under Mohammed VI, 1999–2014 (Oxon and New York: Routledge, 2016), pp. 4675 .

92 Fernández-Molina, ‘Towards a multilevel analysis of the Western Sahara conflict’.

93 Fernández-Molina, Irene, ‘The EU, the European Neighbourhood Policy and the Western Sahara conflict: Executive continuity and parliamentary detours’, in Dimitris Bouris and Tobias Schumacher (eds), The Revised European Neighbourhood Policy (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017), pp. 219238 .

94 Honneth, The Struggle for Recognition, p. 132.

95 Zunes, Stephen and Mundy, Jacob, Western Sahara: War, Nationalism and Conflict Irresolution (New York: Syracuse University Press, 2010), pp. 144145 ; Martín Beristain, Carlos and González Hidalgo, Eloísa, El oasis de la memoria: Memoria histórica y violaciones de derechos humanos en el Sáhara Occidental (San Sebastián: Universidad del País Vasco/Hegoa, 2012), vol. 1, p. 216 .

96 Lindemann, Thomas, ‘Recognizing (mis)recognition from the inside and the outside: Some criteria for “seizing” a slippery concept’, Global Discourse, 4:4 (2014), pp. 542, 546 .

97 Martín Beristain and González Hidalgo, El oasis de la memoria, vol. 2, pp. 229, 444.

98 Author’s interview with former Sahrawi FVJ leader, Rabat, June 2013.

99 Fernández-Molina, Moroccan Foreign Policy under Mohammed VI, 1999–2014, p. 50.

100 Fernández-Molina, ‘Protests under occupation’, p. 240.

101 Author’s interview with ASVDH leader, Laayoune, June 2013; Author’s interview with former political prisoners arrested during 2005 ‘intifada’, Laayoune, June 2013.

102 Brincat, ‘Recognition, conflict and the problem of ethical community’, p. 399.

103 Checkel, Jeffrey T. (ed.), International Institutions and Socialization in Europe (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), pp. 914 .

104 Fernández-Molina, Moroccan Foreign Policy under Mohammed VI, 1999–2014, pp. 101–02.

105 Martín Beristain and González Hidalgo, El oasis de la memoria, vol. 2, pp. 267–9.

106 Author’s interview with HRW research assistant, Rabat, June 2013.

107 Author’s interview with former Sahrawi FVJ leader, Rabat, June 2013.

108 Human Rights Watch, Human Rights in Western Sahara and in the Tindouf Refugee Camps (New York: Human Rights Watch, 2008), pp. 99101 .

109 Author’s interview with ASVDH leaders, Laayoune, June 2013.

110 Amnesty International, Broken Promises: The Equity and Reconciliation Commission and its Follow-up (London: Amnesty International, 2010), pp. 56 .

111 Honneth, The Struggle for Recognition, p. 133.

112 Author’s interview with CNDH Regional Commission president, Laayoune, June 2013.

113 Fernández-Molina, Moroccan Foreign Policy under Mohammed VI, 1999–2014, pp. 71, 209.

114 See Reports of the Secretary-General on the Situation Concerning Western Sahara S/2015/246 (p. 12), S/2016/355 (pp. 15–16), and S/2017/307 (p. 13).

115 EFE, ‘La primera asociación saharaui independentista abre su sede en El Aaiún’, EFE (19 May 2016).

116 Honneth, The Struggle for Recognition, p. 133.

117 Author’s interview with former Sahrawi FVJ leader, Rabat, June 2013.

118 Author’s interview with CODESA leaders, Laayoune, June 2013.

119 Wilson, Alice, Sovereignty in Exile: A Saharan Liberation Movement Governs (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2016), pp. 7576 .

120 Ibid., p. 253.

121 Author’s interview with CODAPSO leader, Laayoune, June 2013; Author’s interview with CSPRON leaders, Laayoune, June 2013.

122 Sahara Press Service, ‘XIII Congreso del Frente Polisario: rectifican la labor de la Comisión de los Territorios Ocupados’, SPS (20 December 2011).

123 Fernández-Molina, ‘Towards a multilevel analysis of the Western Sahara conflict’, pp. 4–5.

124 Ker-Lindsay, ‘Engagement without recognition’.

125 Martín Beristain and González Hidalgo, El oasis de la memoria, vol. 1, p. 354.

126 Author’s interview with siblings of killed Sahrawi activist, Laayoune, June 2013.

127 Author’s interview with MINURSO officials, Laayoune, June 2013.

128 Fernández-Molina, ‘Protests under occupation’, p. 243.

129 Author’s interview with ASVDH leaders, Laayoune, June 2013; author’s interview with CODAPSO leader, Laayoune, June 2013.

130 EFE, ‘Gira de Ban en dos etapas por el Sahara revela la tensión entre ONU y Rabat’, EFE (1 March 2016).

131 Ross’s successor Horst Köhler would be allowed to visit Western Sahara in June and July 2018.

132 Honneth, Axel, Freedom’s Right: The Social Foundations of Democratic Life (Cambridge: Polity, 2014), p. 333 .

133 Fernández-Molina, Moroccan Foreign Policy under Mohammed VI, 1999–2014, pp. 50–1.

134 Author’s interview with CORCAS member, Rabat, June 2013.

135 Fernández-Molina, Moroccan Foreign Policy under Mohammed VI, 1999–2014, pp. 61–3.

136 Fernández-Molina, ‘Towards a multilevel analysis of the Western Sahara conflict’, p. 5.

137 Brincat, ‘Cosmopolitan recognition’, p. 15.

138 Ibid., p. 15.

139 Wilson, Sovereignty in Exile, pp. 128, 215.

140 Ironically for the Moroccan authorities, three such cybercafés were opened by the Coordination Committee/ASVDH leader Brahim Dahane with the money of the compensation he had received as a victim from the Independent Arbitration Committee. Author’s interview with ASVDH leader, Laayoune, June 2013.

141 Author’s interview with CODESA leaders, Laayoune, June 2013.

142 Daase et al. (eds), Recognition in International Relations, p. 4.

143 Gallagher, Julia, ‘Creating a state: a Kleinian reading of recognition in Zimbabwe’s regional relationships’, European Journal of International Relations, 22:2 (2016), p. 384 .

144 Greenhill, ‘Recognition and collective identity formation’.

145 Checkel (ed.), Transnational Dynamics of Civil War, pp. 15–16.

146 Kyris, George, ‘Europeanization beyond contested statehood: the European Union and Turkish-Cypriot civil society’, Journal of Common Market Studies, 51:5 (2013), pp. 870875 .

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Bottom-up change in frozen conflicts: Transnational struggles and mechanisms of recognition in Western Sahara

  • Irene Fernández-Molina (a1)

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