The emergence of new states in international law : the insights from complexity theory

Wheatley, Steven Michael (2016) The emergence of new states in international law : the insights from complexity theory. Chinese Journal of International Law, 15 (3). pp. 579-606. ISSN 1540-1650

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Doctrinal controversies and the disputed international status of Kosovo and Palestine suggest that it is difficult for us international lawyers to know with any certainty when a new State has emerged in the international community. The contention here is that we should look to systems theory thinking—specifically complexity theory—to make sense of the law on statehood. Systems theory directs us to conceptualize the State in terms of patterns of communications adopted by law and politics actors and institutions and applied to subjects. Complexity tells us that these patterns develop without any central controller or guiding hand and that they exist only as a consequence of the framing of law and politics communications by a third party observer. The argument developed in this article is that these insights can provide the intellectual “scaffold” around which we can build our model of the international law on statehood.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Chinese Journal of International Law
Additional Information:
This is a pre-copy-editing, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in Chinese Journal of International Law following peer review. The definitive publisher-authenticated version Steven Wheatley, The Emergence of New States in International Law: The Insights from Complexity Theory, Chinese Journal of International Law, Volume 15, Issue 3, September 2016, Pages 579–606, is available online at:
Uncontrolled Keywords:
?? statehoodrecognitioncomplexitylawpolitical science and international relations ??
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Deposited On:
17 Feb 2016 16:34
Last Modified:
11 Feb 2024 00:43