Abstract Recognition in contemporary international law is generally seen as a declaratory act. This is indeed the only plausible explanation in situations where a new State emerges consensually and in the absence of territorial illegality. Unilateral secession and territorial illegality, however, create different legal circumstances in which the applicable rules of international law imply and even presuppose that (collective) recognition could have constitutive effects. This article therefore suggests that the interpretation of the legal nature of recognition and non-recognition should not start on the premise that recognition always merely acknowledges the fact of the emergence of a new State. This is not to say that States cannot exist without being recognized. Rather, the legal effects of recognition may depend on the mode of a certain (attempt at) State creation.