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  • Level: GCSE
  • Subject: Law
  • Word count: 2159

Recognition of States and

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Course: IREL 550 - International Law Course Coordinator: Dr. Tim Potier Title: Recognition of States and Self-determination Scheme: MA in International Relations Introduction The concept of the formal recognition of a state in the context of international law involves a legally applicable declaration of the intention of one state to recognize another entity as a "state" as defined by international law. Such recognition amounts to a unilateral declaration, since the decision whether or not to recognize another state is in principle a matter for the free appreciation of each individual state. The significance of the recognition of one state by another is in practice particularly important in cases when there is doubt as to the legal existence of a (new) state, e.g. following a splitting off of a part of a territory (secession) or the collapse or partitioning of an existing state. Although the end of the main period of decolonization considerably reduced the need for and importance of the recognition of new states, it again became an issue in the Nineties with the breakup of the Soviet Union and of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, two events which spawned a host of new states. ...read more.


In essence a state does not become a subject of international law until it meets with the approval of other states. According to Thomas Grant, this theory is in tune with the 19th century conception of international law as 'ius gentium voluntarium', which essentially posits that international law is nothing more than the voluntary and consensual behavior of states within the international system. Thus according to constitutive theory, recognition and by extension statehood are, both in theory and in practice, the sovereign prerogative of those states that are already recognized within the international system. Grant shows how "recognition under the constitutive conception becomes a tool of statecraft or a device of statecraft, a tool of "Realpolitik". This feature of recognition, for instance, became particularly salient in Eastern Europe during the First World War when both Lenin and Wilson advocated national self-determination as a form of "military diplomacy" aimed at undermining the coherence of competing multinational Empires (including the Hapsburg and Ottoman empires). During the inter-war period and in the Second World War, German, Italian, and Japanese foreign policy establishments used recognition to establish military protectorates such as the Independent State of Croatia, Eritrea and Manchukuo (respectively targeting Yugoslav, Ethiopian and Chinese territorial integrity). ...read more.


Unable to disengage with the idea of a supreme authority, the revolutionary, rhetorical quality of popular sovereignty is coupled with companion theories of governance that legitimize the exercise of sovereign power by governments. Social contract theories are premised on the notion that individuals freely enter into civil society through a compact to better protect their natural freedom. The constitution of a society is seen as a deliberate self-determining act. The social contract theories rely on the fiction of the 'founding moment' that reinforces the idea of consent. Remembered events in the history of a state, such as Australia's federation in 1901, or the republican revolutions of France and the United States, provide a reinforcing moment. Through this mythical agreement between the people, the authority of government is a delegation of powers from the people. This provides legitimacy for the powers exercised by government and provides a basis for defining the limits of that power. The core concepts of self-determination apply to all independent states, in their right 'freely to choose and develop [their] political, social, economic and cultural systems', just as these elements should be enjoyed by all peoples. Thus it has been suggested that self-determination is a claim against the self-determination of another socially, politically and legally constituted 'people'. ...read more.

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