History was created on Monday when “Palestine” was granted membership of United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco).107 countries, including India, voted in favour of admitting “Palestine”.
This is perhaps the first time that a non-state organization has been admitted as an observer to Unesco. Even if the Palestinian case is unique, it poses important questions about the nature and role of non-state actors in a world run by states.
If only for that reason, one hopes that India’s vote was cast after due consideration of these factors. If anything, this step gives huge space for discretion on part of some states to recognize non-state actors. This “recognition game” can open a new arena for conflict between different nations. Notwithstanding the merits of the Palestinian case, this is a novel development in international law that deserves careful scrutiny.