Diplomatic recognition

Diplomatic recognition

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Diplomatic recognition in international law is a unilateral political act with domestic and international legal consequences, whereby a state
Sovereign state
A sovereign state, or simply, state, is a state with a defined territory on which it exercises internal and external sovereignty, a permanent population, a government, and the capacity to enter into relations with other sovereign states. It is also normally understood to be a state which is neither...

 acknowledges an act or status of another state or government in control of a state (may be also an unrecognised state). Recognition can be accorded either de facto
De facto
De facto is a Latin expression that means "concerning fact." In law, it often means "in practice but not necessarily ordained by law" or "in practice or actuality, but not officially established." It is commonly used in contrast to de jure when referring to matters of law, governance, or...

or de jure
De jure
De jure is an expression that means "concerning law", as contrasted with de facto, which means "concerning fact".De jure = 'Legally', De facto = 'In fact'....

, usually by a statement of the recognizing government.

Recognition of states and governments


Diplomatic recognition must be distinguished from recognition of states and their governments. The fact that states do not maintain bilateral diplomatic relations does not mean that they do not recognize or treat one another as states. A state is not required to accord formal recognition to any other state, but it is required to treat any entity that meets certain requirements as a state. A state has a responsibility to not recognize as a state any entity that has attained the qualifications for statehood by violating the prohibition on the threat or use of force in the UN Charter. States can exercise their recognition powers either explicitly or implicitly. The recognition of a government implies recognition of the state it governs, but not vice versa.

De facto recognition of states, rather than de jure, is rare. De jure recognition is stronger, while de facto recognition is more tentative and only recognizes that a government exercises control over a territory. An example of the difference is when the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 recognized the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 de facto in 1921, but de jure only in 1924. Another example is the state of Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

 in 1948, whose government was immediately recognized de facto by the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 and three days later by Soviet
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 de jure recognition.

Renewing recognition of a government is not necessary when it changes in a normal, constitutional way (such as an election
Election
An election is a formal decision-making process by which a population chooses an individual to hold public office. Elections have been the usual mechanism by which modern representative democracy operates since the 17th century. Elections may fill offices in the legislature, sometimes in the...

 or referendum
Referendum
A referendum is a direct vote in which an entire electorate is asked to either accept or reject a particular proposal. This may result in the adoption of a new constitution, a constitutional amendment, a law, the recall of an elected official or simply a specific government policy. It is a form of...

), but is necessary in the case of a coup d'etat
Coup d'état
A coup d'état state, literally: strike/blow of state)—also known as a coup, putsch, and overthrow—is the sudden, extrajudicial deposition of a government, usually by a small group of the existing state establishment—typically the military—to replace the deposed government with another body; either...

 or revolution
Revolution
A revolution is a fundamental change in power or organizational structures that takes place in a relatively short period of time.Aristotle described two types of political revolution:...

. Recognition of a new government by other states can be important for its long term survival. For instance, the Taliban government of the Islamic State of Afghanistan
Islamic State of Afghanistan
The Islamic State of Afghanistan was the name of the state of Afghanistan after the collapse of the communist regime, the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan, in 1992. In 1996, the country was renamed the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan by the Taliban, after seizing control of the majority of the...

, which lasted from 1996 to 2001, was recognized by only Pakistan
Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

, the United Arab Emirates
United Arab Emirates
The United Arab Emirates, abbreviated as the UAE, or shortened to "the Emirates", is a state situated in the southeast of the Arabian Peninsula in Western Asia on the Persian Gulf, bordering Oman, and Saudi Arabia, and sharing sea borders with Iraq, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, and Iran.The UAE is a...

, and Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia , commonly known in British English as Saudi Arabia and in Arabic as as-Sa‘ūdiyyah , is the largest state in Western Asia by land area, constituting the bulk of the Arabian Peninsula, and the second-largest in the Arab World...

, while far more had recognized the government of ousted President Burhanuddin Rabbani
Burhanuddin Rabbani
Professor Burhanuddin Rabbani was President of the Islamic State of Afghanistan from 1992 to 1996. After the Taliban government was toppled during Operation Enduring Freedom, Rabbani returned to Kabul and served as a temporary President from November to December 20, 2001, when Hamid Karzai was...

. The Disputed territory of Jammu and Kashmir
Jammu and Kashmir
Jammu and Kashmir is the northernmost state of India. It is situated mostly in the Himalayan mountains. Jammu and Kashmir shares a border with the states of Himachal Pradesh and Punjab to the south and internationally with the People's Republic of China to the north and east and the...

 of the Republic of India is not recognized by either Pakistan
Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

 or the People's Republic of China
People's Republic of China
China , officially the People's Republic of China , is the most populous country in the world, with over 1.3 billion citizens. Located in East Asia, the country covers approximately 9.6 million square kilometres...

, but is recognized by Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

.

Recognition can be implied by other acts, like the visit of the head of state
Head of State
A head of state is the individual that serves as the chief public representative of a monarchy, republic, federation, commonwealth or other kind of state. His or her role generally includes legitimizing the state and exercising the political powers, functions, and duties granted to the head of...

, or the signing of a bilateral treaty. If implicit recognition is possible, a state may feel the need to explicitly proclaim that its acts do not constitute diplomatic recognition, like when the United States commenced its dialogue with the Palestine Liberation Organization
Palestine Liberation Organization
The Palestine Liberation Organization is a political and paramilitary organization which was created in 1964. It is recognized as the "sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people" by the United Nations and over 100 states with which it holds diplomatic relations, and has enjoyed...

 in 1988.

The doctrine of non-recognition of illegal or immoral situations, like territorial gains achieved by force
Violence
Violence is the use of physical force to apply a state to others contrary to their wishes. violence, while often a stand-alone issue, is often the culmination of other kinds of conflict, e.g...

, is called the Stimson Doctrine
Stimson Doctrine
The Stimson Doctrine is a policy of the United States federal government, enunciated in a note of January 7, 1932, to Japan and China, of non-recognition of international territorial changes that were executed by force. The doctrine was an application of the principle of ex injuria jus non oritur...

, and has become more important since the Second World War, especially in the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

 where it is a method of ensuring compliance with international law
International law
Public international law concerns the structure and conduct of sovereign states; analogous entities, such as the Holy See; and intergovernmental organizations. To a lesser degree, international law also may affect multinational corporations and individuals, an impact increasingly evolving beyond...

 - for instance, in the case of Rhodesia
Rhodesia
Rhodesia , officially the Republic of Rhodesia from 1970, was an unrecognised state located in southern Africa that existed between 1965 and 1979 following its Unilateral Declaration of Independence from the United Kingdom on 11 November 1965...

 in 1965. Withdrawal of recognition of a government is a more severe act of disapproval than the breaking of diplomatic relations.

Recognition of governments


Besides recognizing other states, states also can recognize the governments of states. This can be problematic particularly when a new government comes to power by illegal means, such as a coup d'etat
Coup d'état
A coup d'état state, literally: strike/blow of state)—also known as a coup, putsch, and overthrow—is the sudden, extrajudicial deposition of a government, usually by a small group of the existing state establishment—typically the military—to replace the deposed government with another body; either...

, or when an existing government stays in power by fixing an election. States once formally recognized both the government of a state and the state itself, but many no longer follow that practice, even though, if diplomatic relations are to be maintained, it is necessary that there be a government to engage in diplomatic relations with. Countries such as the United States answer queries over the recognition of governments with the statement: "The question of recognition does not arise: we are conducting our relations with the new government."

Unrecognized state


Several of the world's geo-political entities lack general international recognition, but wish to be recognized as sovereign states. The degree of de facto control these entities exert over the territories they claim varies.

Most are subnational regions
Subregion
A subregion is a conceptual unit which derives from a larger region or continent and is usually based on location. Cardinal directions, such as south or southern, are commonly used to define a subregion.- United Nations subregions :...

 with an ethnic or national identity
National identity
National identity is the person's identity and sense of belonging to one state or to one nation, a feeling one shares with a group of people, regardless of one's citizenship status....

 of their own that have separated
Separatism
Separatism is the advocacy of a state of cultural, ethnic, tribal, religious, racial, governmental or gender separation from the larger group. While it often refers to full political secession, separatist groups may seek nothing more than greater autonomy...

 from the original parent state
Sovereign state
A sovereign state, or simply, state, is a state with a defined territory on which it exercises internal and external sovereignty, a permanent population, a government, and the capacity to enter into relations with other sovereign states. It is also normally understood to be a state which is neither...

. Such states are commonly referred to as "break-away" states. Some of these entities are in effect internally self-governing protectorate
Protectorate
In history, the term protectorate has two different meanings. In its earliest inception, which has been adopted by modern international law, it is an autonomous territory that is protected diplomatically or militarily against third parties by a stronger state or entity...

s that enjoy military protection and informal diplomatic representation abroad through another state to prevent forced reincorporation into their original states.

Note that the word "control" in this list refers to control over the area occupied, not occupation of the area claimed. Unrecognized countries may have either full control over their occupied territory, or only partial control (such as Western Sahara
Western Sahara
Western Sahara is a disputed territory in North Africa, bordered by Morocco to the north, Algeria to the northeast, Mauritania to the east and south, and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. Its surface area amounts to . It is one of the most sparsely populated territories in the world, mainly...

). In the former, the de jure governments have little or no influence in the areas they claim to rule, whereas in the latter they have varying degrees of control, and may provide essential services to people living in the areas.

Other types of recognition


Other elements that may be recognized, include occupation
Military occupation
Military occupation occurs when the control and authority over a territory passes to a hostile army. The territory then becomes occupied territory.-Military occupation and the laws of war:...

 or annexation
Annexation
Annexation is the de jure incorporation of some territory into another geo-political entity . Usually, it is implied that the territory and population being annexed is the smaller, more peripheral, and weaker of the two merging entities, barring physical size...

 of territory, or belligerent
Belligerent
A belligerent is an individual, group, country or other entity which acts in a hostile manner, such as engaging in combat. Belligerent comes from Latin, literally meaning "to wage war"...

 rights of a party in a conflict. Recognition of the latter does not imply recognition of a state. Examples of recognition of belligerent
Belligerent
A belligerent is an individual, group, country or other entity which acts in a hostile manner, such as engaging in combat. Belligerent comes from Latin, literally meaning "to wage war"...

 status include:
  • The United Kingdom
    United Kingdom
    The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

     recognized the Confederate States of America
    Confederate States of America
    The Confederate States of America was a government set up from 1861 to 1865 by 11 Southern slave states of the United States of America that had declared their secession from the U.S...

     as a belligerent in the first month of the American Civil War
    American Civil War
    The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

    .
  • Bolivia
    Bolivia
    Bolivia officially known as Plurinational State of Bolivia , is a landlocked country in central South America. It is the poorest country in South America...

    , Colombia
    Colombia
    Colombia, officially the Republic of Colombia , is a unitary constitutional republic comprising thirty-two departments. The country is located in northwestern South America, bordered to the east by Venezuela and Brazil; to the south by Ecuador and Peru; to the north by the Caribbean Sea; to the...

    , Ecuador
    Ecuador
    Ecuador , officially the Republic of Ecuador is a representative democratic republic in South America, bordered by Colombia on the north, Peru on the east and south, and by the Pacific Ocean to the west. It is one of only two countries in South America, along with Chile, that do not have a border...

    , Peru
    Peru
    Peru , officially the Republic of Peru , is a country in western South America. It is bordered on the north by Ecuador and Colombia, on the east by Brazil, on the southeast by Bolivia, on the south by Chile, and on the west by the Pacific Ocean....

     and Venezuela
    Venezuela
    Venezuela , officially called the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela , is a tropical country on the northern coast of South America. It borders Colombia to the west, Guyana to the east, and Brazil to the south...

     recognized the Sandinista National Liberation Front
    Sandinista National Liberation Front
    The Sandinista National Liberation Front is a socialist political party in Nicaragua. Its members are called Sandinistas in both English and Spanish...

     as a belligerent in Nicaragua's civil war in June, 1979.
  • France
    France
    The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

     and Mexico
    Mexico
    The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

     recognized the FMLN
    Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front
    The Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front is, since 1992, a left-wing political party in El Salvador and formerly a coalition of five revolutionary guerrilla organizations...

     as a belligerent in the civil war in El Salvador
    El Salvador
    El Salvador or simply Salvador is the smallest and the most densely populated country in Central America. The country's capital city and largest city is San Salvador; Santa Ana and San Miguel are also important cultural and commercial centers in the country and in all of Central America...

     on August 28, 1981.

See also


  • Constitutive theory of statehood
  • Declarative theory of statehood
  • International Organization for Standardization
    International Organization for Standardization
    The International Organization for Standardization , widely known as ISO, is an international standard-setting body composed of representatives from various national standards organizations. Founded on February 23, 1947, the organization promulgates worldwide proprietary, industrial and commercial...

     (ISO)
  • Jus legationis
    Jus legationis
    Jus legationis is a Legal Latin term meaning the capacity to send and receive consuls and diplomats....

  • List of states with limited recognition
  • Micronation
    Micronation
    Micronations, sometimes also referred to as model countries and new country projects, are entities that claim to be independent nations or states but which are not recognized by world governments or major international organizations...