These Countries are Not Recognised by Most Others and Not Members of International Organizations
In looking at which countries are not members of the UN, it’s important to define what we mean by a country. There are multiple territories that would like to be countries and recognized as such. Sealand and Liberland spring to mind. They aspire to be countries but it’s not a practical possibility to visit or live there. In other cases there are countries that once existed independently such as Scotland and Catalonia. They’ve been absorbed by larger, neighbouring countries. While it’s possible to visit and live there they are no longer independent nations.
What we are interested in here is countries that operate as de facto countries. Countries that we can visit or live in but they’re not members of the UN.
Every major country and almost every small country is a member of the UN. Even micro states like Monaco and San Marino are members of the UN. Generally, when looking at which countries are not members of the UN we must look at countries that have some kind of disputes with their neighbours or countries that have declared independence but not yet been recognized by the international community.
The most obvious example of a defacto country with a high population that’s not a member of the UN is Taiwan. Taiwan is widely recognized as being an independent country but due to China’s influence and the one China policy it’s not a member of the UN.
Let’s look at the full list of which countries are not members of the UN:
Abkhazia was part of Georgia after the break-up of the Soviet Union. It declared independence from Georgia in 1999. It’s recognized by Russia, Venezuela, Nauru, Nicaragua and Syria.
Artsakh is a self-proclaimed republic. It formed following the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. It’s supported by Armenia but not recognized by and UN member countries.
Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008. It’s recognized by over 100 UN members. However, it needs a two thirds majority to become a UN member. It’s membership of the UN is opposed by Serbia, Russia and some others.
Nagorno-Karabakh is a disputed territory between Armenia and Azerbaijan. It declared its independence in 1991. It’s supported by Armenia but no other Un states.
Northern Cyprus split from the republic of Cyprus in 1983. It’s a defacto state in the north of the island. It’s recognized only by Turkey.
Palestine has observer status at the UN. It applied for membership in 2011 but it was opposed by Israel and the United States. Palestine is recognized as a country by more than 130 UN members.
Somaliland has been a self-declared state since it split from Somalia more than 30 years ago. It’s not recognized by any UN member states.
South Ossetia declared independence from Georgia in 1991. It’s recognized as an independent country by Russia, Venezuela, Nauru, Nicaragua and Syria.
Taiwan claims to be the legitimate government of China. It’s a defacto country, recognised by most countries as such. Under the one China policy China opposes Taiwan’s membership of the UN.
Transnistria is a self-governing region of Moldova. It split from Moldova in 1990. It’s supported by Russia but not recognized by any UN member countries.
Western Sahara is claimed by both Morocco and The Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic. The SADR is recognized by some states. It’s a full member of the African Union but not the UN.
Some may consider it a benefit not to be a UN member. Not being a UN member means that these countries also can’t be part of other trans-national organisations such as the World Health Organisation and Interpol. There’s much less cooperation between countries in matters such as extradition and there’s no Mutual Legal Assistance. However attempting to travel on a passport as a citizen of a country that doesn’t officially exit could cause some challenges. Anyone who decides to live in one of these countries will want to consider other passport options.