De Facto States and Land-for-Peace Agreements: Territory and Recognition at Odds?

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Book presentation by Shpend KURSANI, Institute of Political Science, Leiden University

Discussant: Bruno Coppieters, Vrije Universiteit Brussel

Abstract: This book presents an analytical framework which assesses how 'land-for-peace' agreements can be achieved in the context of territorial conflicts between de facto states and their respective parent states. The volume examines geographic solutions to resolving ongoing conflicts that stand between the principle of self-determination (prompted by de facto states) and the principle of territorial integrity (prompted by parent states). The authors investigate the conditions under which territorial adjustments can bring about a possibility for peace between de facto states and their parent states. It does so by interrogating the possibility of land-for-peace agreements in four de facto state–parent state pairs, namely: Kosovo–Serbia, Nagorno-Karabakh–Azerbaijan, Northern Cyprus–Republic of Cyprus, and Abkhazia–Georgia. The book suggests that the value that parties put on land to be exchanged and peace to be achieved stand at odds for land-for-peace agreements to materialise. The book brings theoretical and empirical insights that open several avenues for discussions on the conservative stance that the international community has held on territorial changes in the post-1945 international order. This book will be of much interest to students of statebuilding, state formation, secessionism, political geography and international relations.

Shpend Kursani is a lecturer at the Institute of Political Science of Leiden University. He holds a PhD degree in Political and Social Sciences from the European University Institute (EUI) and an MPhil degree in International Relations from the University of Cambridge. Shpend’s doctoral thesis titled “Contested States: The Struggle for Survival and Recognition in the Post-1945 International Order” has been awarded the Linz-Rokkan Prize for the best doctoral thesis in political sociology in 2021. Shpend researches contestation of authority in world politics, self-determination, secession, recognition, state-making, violence and radicalization. Presently, he also investigates common causes of different types of violence and individuals’ preferences for alternative authorities to the state. Shpend has previously taught International Relations courses; has served as a senior researcher in several think tanks; has been a political activist for half a decade in Kosovo on non-partisan basis; and has published scientific articles, book chapters, and policy reports. His publications feature in, among others, International Studies Review, International Politics, Territory, Politics, Governance, and Southeast European and Black Sea Studies.

Workshop organized by Giulia Prelz Oltramonti, Université catholique de Lille (ESPOL)/Université libre de Bruxelles (REPI) and Vjosa Musliu, Vrije Universiteit Brussel

The workshop will be held in a hybrid format. Login details will be communicated after mandatory registration via this link:

6 December 2021 from Noon till 2:00 pm 
Université libre de Bruxelles
Campus du Solbosch – IEE Kant Room
39 Avenue Franklin Roosevelt
1050 Bruxelles

Mask mandatory

Poster (PDF)