Urban Jaksa


Title of Research:

Interpreting Non-Recognition in De Facto States Engagement: The Case of Abkhazia 

Brief overview of research topic:

Urban’s research looks at how Abkhazia’s political elites and foreign policy decision-makers in EU, Russia and USA, which engage with Abkhazia, interpret non-recognition and how this interpretation influences the formulation and implementation of their respective foreign policy objectives and strategies. The aim of this research is to understand how different interpretations on non-recognition affect the interaction between Abkhazia and the international community specifically and to present the first multi-sided account of foreign policy interaction of a de facto state. I focus on a single case study of Abkhazia between October 1999 (Constitutional referendum and Act of state independence) and November 2015 (signing of the controversial defense treaty with Russia), looking at how Abkhaz political elites engage with (and are in turn engaged by) decision makers in recognized states, and how (non-)recognition shapes this engagement. The research adopts elements of realist and constructivist approach, claiming that non-recognition is ultimately what states (including de facto states) make of it. Methodologically, the dissertation is based on process tracing and semi-structured elite interviews with policy elites and decision makers conducted in Abkhazia, Georgia, Russia, USA and the EU institutions.

Urban’s academic interests include: de facto states; geopolitical competition and ethno-political conflicts in post-Soviet borderlands; sovereignty and territoriality; constructivist and critical approaches to international politics and security (ontological security).



Doctorate in Politics (2014 – ongoing)  
University of York, United Kingdom
Supervisors: Nina Caspersen, Nick Ritchie

Expert Fellow (2017)
Polish Institute for International Affairs (PISM)

Visiting Research Student, Fulbright Program (2016 – 2017), Columbia University, USA
Academic Advisor: Alexander Cooley

Visiting Research Student (2016)
Higher School of Economics (HSE) Moscow, Russia

Master’s Degree in Political Science (2010 – 2013)
University of Ljubljana, Slovenia

Bachelor’s degree in International Relations (2006 – 2010)
University of Ljubljana, Slovenia

Certificat d’études politiques à titre étranger (2009 – 2010)
Institut d’études politiques de Bordeaux, France


Fulbright Foreign Student Program 2016/17 August 2016 – May 2017

Santander International Connections Award January – December 2016

York Learning and Teaching Award September – August 2015

University of York Department of Politics Scholarship 2014 – 2017

Ljubljana Municipality Scholarship October 2010 onwards

Zois Scholarship October 2006 – May 2010 



Book chapters:

"Ontological Security of the Post-Soviet de Facto States." Unrecognized States and Secession in the 21st Century. Springer International Publishing, 2017. 35-51.

"Affirmation or erosion of sovereignty in the Horn of Africa?." The Horn of Africa Since the 1960s: Local and International Politics Intertwined (2017): 171.

Policy papers/briefs:

South Caucasus: Nagorno-Karabakh Between a Contested Territory and a Small State. Small States Briefs. University of Iceland, 2015.


Ontological Security of Post-Soviet De Facto States. The Annual of Language & Politics and Politics of Identity 1(3), 2016.

Democratisation: a foreign policy instrument of de-facto states? Analitycon. Stepanakert Press Club, 9(69) Sep 2014.

Between Theory and Practice: The Role of Political Theory and Its Emancipatory Potential, in: INDIGO Humanities Magazine, Spring 2011. Indigo Book Company, Busan, South Korea.



"Statehood and its Discontents: Russia, Eastern Europe and Eurasia" - A Joint Miami University Havighurst Center for Russian and Post-Soviet Studies and Vilnius University Institute of International Relations and Political Science Conference, June 15-18, 2016 at Vilnius University, Lithuania.

"Geopolitical importance of unrecognized states and territorial non-state actors (Causes and consequences of the border change in post-Cold War World)" Conference organized by Charles University, November 13, 2015, Prague, Czech Republic.

“New Perspectives on Conflict, Security and Peace in Eurasia”, June 3-5, 2015 at OSCE Academy in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.

“3rd International Graduate Students' Conference for Holocaust and Genocide Studies”, April 9-12, 2015 at Strassler Center, Clark University, Worchester, USA.

“Centrifugal Forces: Reading Russia’s Regional Identities and Initiatives” Conference, March 26-28, 2015 at University of Virginia, Charlottesville, USA.

Graduate Student Colloquium in Armenian Studies, February 6, 2015 at UCLA, Los Angeles, USA.

4th International Geopolitical Conference “Strategic and Geopolitical Issues in the Contemporary World”, organized by Charles University, 14th November 2014 in Prague, Czech Republic.

Belgrade Security Forum, September 30 – 2 October 2014 in Belgrade, Serbia.


ASN (Association for the study of nationalities) Convention, 4–6 May 2017 at Columbia University, New York, USA.

2017 NESEEES (North East Slavic, East European and Eurasian) Conference, 1 April 2017 at NYU, New York, USA.

LSE IDEAS and Dahrendorf Forum Workshop “The evolution of foreign policy in the post-Soviet space”, February 26, 2016 at London School of Economics, London, UK.

“Sealed Gate: Prospects of the Turkey-Armenia Border Conference”, organized by Hrant Dink Foundation, 22-23th November 2014 in Ankara, Turkey.


“Europe, Nations, and Insecurity: Challenges to Identities” Conference organized by Vytautas Magnus University in cooperation with the Association for the Study of Nationalities (ASN), 30 June – 2 July 2016 in Kaunas, Lithuania.

6th Uludag Conference on International “Return of Geopolitics? Time for Active Diplomacy in the Greater Regions’’, organized by Uludag University, 25-27 November 2014 in Bursa, Turkey.

International Forum for Mutual Understanding in the Caucasus, Russian Federation, 16-20 November 2014 in Grozny.

De-facto Entities In the Post-Soviet Space Conference, Organized by Caucasus Institute and Academic Swiss Caucasus Net, 4-5th September 2014 in Sevan, Armenia. 

Summer Schools and Learning Courses:

4th ENP PhD Summer School "The ENP Under Pressure: Conceptual and Empirical Understandings of EU Foreign Policy towards the Eastern and Southern Neighbours", 23 June – 1 July 2016 at College of Europe Natolin, Warsaw, Poland.

Small States Summer School, 26th June to 6th July 2013 at the University of Iceland, Reykjavik, Iceland


Taught Introduction to International Politics in 2015 – 2016 academic year

Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (HEA) of UK (title obtained after completing the teaching training and receiving the York Learning and Teaching Award in 2016).

Urban is supervised by Professor Nina Caspersen and Dr Nick Ritchie


Contact details

Mr Urban Jaksa

Feedback and guidance hours - Fridays 13:00-14:00