Today I want to ask if the two terms "member country" and "member state", in an international organisation, are the same and thus can be swapped for each other when we want to avoid repetition while discussing about it.

To give a common example, I will take "The United Nations" and "The European Union" into discussion.

For the United Nations: When I read about the organisation on official online website, I found that they use the term "Member States" rather than "Member Countries" (193 Member States of the UN)

However reading on the European Union's website shows that the organisation use the term "Member Countries" to identify its members (28 Member Countries of the European Union).

So my question is whether we can say

1) 193 Member States of the UN = 193 Member Countries of the UN

2) 28 Member Countries of the European Union = 28 Member States of the European Union

Many thanks.


The following link refers to the same question with multiple answers. https://english.stackexchange.com/questions/15007/state-vs-country-as-nation

Over time, different regions change their "independence" status, so a region that is not a country today might become a country tomorrow.

A good example is Hong Kong, Bermuda, Puerto Rico which are not considered as countries (since they belong to other countries) but they can be considered as states. More information is in this link https://www.infoplease.com/world/general-world-statistics/state-country-and-nation


In fact the official EU term is "member states". This is the term used in the Treaties.

That said, the Treaties do not appear to draw any clear distinction between a "state" and a "country". One reads, for example, in Article 48 Clause 3 of the Consolidated Version of the Treaty on European Union and Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union: "Upon one or more countries becoming Member States ...".

Still, if I were writing about the EU or UN, I would prefer to use the official term "member states". To avoid repetition, future mentions could refer to "states", "members" or "countries" (if the context were clear).

The term "state" refers to a country that is sovereign and has international recognition, whereas a "country" may lack independence. For exampe, Scotland, Wales, Catalonia, and Tibet may be referred to as "countries", but not as "states".

To complicate things, though, the term "state" is also used to refer to non-independent subdivisions of states. Thus, the US uses the term "state" to denote its internal parts, and some writers use the term "state" to refer to (for example) German Länder (the federal subdvisions of Germany).

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.