When dealing with de facto states, their reliance on a patron is taken as proof that they would
not be viable states anyway; and that the sole purpose of their existence is because they are needed
as pawns in the regional power games of larger states. A focus on agency allows us to ask how and
how far these unrecognized entities have been able to act on and in the international system. How
much subjective freedom of action is exercised, and how has this been deployed during negotiation?
Agents’ role positions, which either empower or constrain their choices, may describe de facto
states’ relationships with their external supporters. Despite their limited capacity, de facto
states do display some agency, and they are sometimes not remarkably different from other small
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