The Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations (VCDR) rests on the basic premise that diplomatic relations are conducted between sovereign and independent States represented by their governments. Civil war-like situations in Libya and the creation of secessionist entities in Northern Cyprus, Abkhazia, South Ossetia or Somaliland have given rise to the question to what extent States can conduct ‘diplomatic relations’ with the local de facto authorities exercising effective control over part of a State’s territory but not recognized internationally as a new State or the government of an existing State. The paper examines the relationship between diplomatic or quasi-diplomatic relations and recognition of new States and governments in international law. It shows how States have used such relations to influence the political developments in a country and mediate in the conflict between the parties. Although not directly governed by the VCDR such quasi-diplomatic relations are closely modelled on formal diplomatic relations conducted between States within the framework of the VCDR which provides guidance on matters such as privileges and immunities of diplomatic envoys sent to local de facto authorities.