Mikulas Fabry

Associate Professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies

Member Of:
  • School of International Affairs
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Office Location:
Habersham 152
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Professor Mikulas Fabry received his BA in international relations from the University of Toronto and his MA and PhD in political science from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.  Dr. Fabry's academic interests revolve around moral and legal dimensions of global affairs.  His research focuses on international norms that regulate claims of, and conflicts over, legitimate statehood, government and territorial borders.  He is the author of Recognizing States: International Society and the Establishment of New States since 1776 (Oxford University Press, 2010), Secession and State Creation (Oxford University Press, forthcoming 2019, with James Ker-Lindsay) multiple chapters in edited volumes, and articles in International TheoryMillennium, Diplomacy & Statecraft, German Law Journal, Ethnopolitics, Nationalities Papers, ALPPI: The Annual of Language & Politics and Politics of Identity and Global Society. His current book project is on the idea and historical practice of the norm of territorial integrity in international relations.  In the academic year 2011-2012, Dr. Fabry was a Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.  Before coming to Georgia Tech, he was Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow and Lecturer at Smith College. He also taught courses at Colorado College and the University of British Columbia.

Areas of
  • International Norms
  • Recognition Of States And Governments
  • Secession And Self-Determination
  • Territorial Integrity
Research Fields:
  • Regional Security Challenges
  • Governance
  • INTA-2001: Careers In Intl Affairs
  • INTA-2030: Ethics in Int'l Affairs
  • INTA-3031: Human Rights
  • INTA-3110: U.S. Foreign Policy
  • INTA-4060: International Law
  • INTA-4500: INTA Pro-Seminar
  • INTA-6102: Intl Relations Theory
Recent Publications


All Publications


  • Recognizing States: International Society and the Establishment of New States Since 1776

    May 2010

    © Mikulas Fabry 2010.This book examines recognition of new states, the practice historically employed to regulate membership in international society. The last twenty years have witnessed new or lingering demands for statehood in different areas of the world. The claims of some, like those of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Eritrea, Croatia, Georgia, and East Timor, have achieved general recognition; those of others, like Kosovo, Tamil Eelam, South Ossetia, Abkhazia, and Somaliland, have not. However, even as most of these claims gave rise to major conflicts and international controversies, the criteria for acknowledgment of new states have elicited little systematic scholarship. Drawing upon writings of English School theorists, this study charts the practice from the late eighteenth century until the present. Its central argument is that for the past 200 years state recognition has been tied to the idea of self-determination of peoples. Two versions of the idea have underpinned the practice throughout most of this period - self-determination as a negative and a positive right. The negative idea, dominant from 1815 to 1950, took state recognition to be acknowledgment of an achievement of de facto statehood by a people desiring independence. Self-determination was expressed through, and externally gauged by, self-attainment. The positive idea, prevalent since the 1950s, took state recognition to be acknowledgment of an entitlement to independence in international law. The development of self-determination as a positive international right, however, has not led to a disappearance of claims of statehood that stand outside of its confines. Groups that are deeply dissatisfied with the countries in which they presently find themselves continue to make demands for independence even though they may have no positive entitlement to it. The book concludes by expressing doubt that contemporary international society can find a sustainable basis for recognizing new states other than the original standard of de facto statehood.

Journal Articles

  • Unrecognized States and National Identity
       In: ALPPI: The Annual of Language & Politics and Politics of Identity


  • How to Uphold the Territorial Integrity of Ukraine
       In: The German Law Journal

    July 2015

  • The Right to Self-determination as a Claim to Independence in International Practice
       In: Ethnopolitics [Peer Reviewed]


    © 2015 The Editor of Ethnopolitics.This paper examines responses of states and intergovernmental organizations to the claims of independent statehood grounded in the right to self-determination. Virtually all assertions of independence invoke this right and it is highly probable that this long-standing global trend will continue. At the same time, only a relatively limited number of them are supported externally, either in the form of widespread public endorsement or outright recognition of a new state. This paper argues that there has been a clear prevailing international practice for more than five decades. On the one hand, international society has accepted self-determination claims to independence put forward by colonies and by non-colonial entities that obtained assent of their parent states. On the other hand, it has opposed claims set forth by non-colonial entities against the will of their parent states unilaterally. However, countries have been unable to maintain complete consistency and, in recent years, great powers found themselves at profound odds over a number of cases. These differences have led, and have a future potential to lead, to various forms of international conflict.
  • Theorizing state recognition
       In: INTERNATIONAL THEORY [Peer Reviewed]

    March 2013

  • The contemporary practice of state recognition: Kosovo, South Ossetia, Abkhazia, and their aftermath
       In: Nationalities Papers [Peer Reviewed]

    September 2012

    This paper assesses state recognition, the practice historically employed to regulate membership in international society, since the United States-led recognition of Kosovo and the Russian-led recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Its main goal is to succinctly examine the question of whether these two controversial episodes have signaled change in the existing norms of recognition of new states. The paper argues that there is not enough evidence for the claims of some observers and governments that unilateral secession is, as such, becoming legitimate internationally. The leading recognizing powers took great care in all three cases to reject the applicability of their decision to other situations of unilateral secession, and they have since approached those other situations as if no acknowledgment of the three territories had taken place. Nevertheless, there can be little doubt that the deeply contested nature of these cases has introduced confusion and uncertainty into the practice and that this has had, and will have, important implications elsewhere in the world, in terms of both re-invigorated claims of statehood and the potential for unilateral recognition decisions by powerful outsiders. In fact, it is extremely unlikely that Russia's recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia in August 2008 would have ever occurred without the prior US-led recognition of Kosovo in February 2008. © 2012 Association for the Study of Nationalities.
  • The Right to Democracy in International Law: A Classical Liberal Reassessment


  • “The Inter-American Democratic Charter and Governmental Legitimacy in the International Relations of the Western Hemisphere”
       In: Diplomacy and Statecraft [Peer Reviewed]


  • “International Norms of Territorial Integrity and the Balkan Wars of the 1990s”
       In: Global Society [Peer Reviewed]



Other Publications