Recognition of State and Government

    Recognition is a method of accepting certain factual situations and endowing them with a legal significance. In international law, the doctrine of recognition is concerned with the recognition of newly formed or newly independent states and of new governments of the existing states.

    A population, a defined territory, a government, sovereignty, and the capacity to develop international relations are prerequisites for statehood. When all these attributes are acknowledged by other existing states, it’s known as recognition of the state. Thus, recognition of a state is the formal acknowledgment by another state that the recognized state possesses the attributes of statehood and signifies willingness to treat the entity as a state.

    Recognition of government means the acceptance of the capacity of the new government for effective governance and its capacity to represent it in the international arena. It’s a formal acknowledgment by the recognizing state that the regime in question is the effective government and the regime is treated as the legal government thereafter. If a government is unrecognized, there is no exchange of diplomatic envoys, and it creates a problem with the enforcement of international rights and obligations.

    Political inclination plays a vital role in the decision of whether or not to grant recognition. After being recognized, a state becomes an international personality. Therefore, the state and its government should be recognized by other states so that the state can acquire an international legal personality and it can develop relationships with other states.

    When a new state comes into existence it must be recognized by other existing states to gain an international personality. Only then it becomes a member of the international community. If a government changes and the existence of the new government is questioned either in international law or by other governments, the question of recognition of the government arises.

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    What are the Criteria for Recognition of the State?

      • Clearly defined territory with a population
      • An organized government with effective control over that territory
      • Capacity to conduct foreign relations independently
      • Capacity to fulfill international obligations
      • Respect for provisions of the United Nations Charter
      • Respect for the rules of law, democracy, and human rights

    Requirements for Recognition of Government

      • Capacity and interest of the new government to bear international responsibilities
      • Capacity to represent in the international arena
      • Prospect of permanence and political stability
      • Effective control over its state territory and support of the people
      • Respect for the UN Charter
      • Commitment to rules of law, democracy, and human rights
      • Commitment to peaceful settlement of disputes

    Theories of Recognition

    1. Constitutive Theory

    According to the constitutive theory of recognition, other existing states constitute the personality of a new state by granting recognition. New states are established in the international community as fully-fledged subjects of international law by virtue of the will and consent of already existing states. According to this theory, an unrecognized state can have no rights and obligations in international law.

    2. Declaratory Theory

    As per the declaratory theory of recognition, a state comes into existence in international law as soon as it acquires all the attributes of statehood. It emphasizes factual situations and minimizes the power of other states to confer legal personality.

    Consequences of Recognition

    Recognition of the state has both political and legal consequences. Politically, the recognizing state shows the willingness to initiate international interactions with the new state. In terms of legal consequences, the recognizing state considers that the newly recognized state fulfills all the required conditions of statehood.

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    After recognition, the recognizing state and the recognized state can establish a bilateral relationship. The representatives of both states can enjoy diplomatic immunities and privileges in each other’s countries. A recognized state may enter into treaty relationships with its recognising states.

    As a result of the recognition, both parties can sue and be sued in each other’s domestic courts. The newly recognized state becomes a subject of international law. The recognizing state gets the authority to use its property present in the recognizing state. Moreover, the recognized state can be financially integrated into globalization.

    Modes of Recognition

    1. De jure Recognition

    When a state is recognized completely, formally, and officially, it’s called de jure recognition. De jure recognition is granted when it is confirmed that the new government is able to be a subject of international law and a member of the international community, and it can bear international responsibilities.

    2. Defacto Recognition

    When a state is recognized through activity, behavior, and practice without any formal announcement, it is known as the de facto recognition of a state. It is a temporary and interim recognition that can be overtaken easily. When the new state has not acquired sufficient stability, it is granted de facto recognition.

    3. Premature or Precipitate Recognition

    As a political act, if recognition is granted to an entity even if it doesn’t possess all the attributes of statehood, it’s called premature or precipitate recognition.

    4. Recognition of Exile Government

    When an insurgency or militant group topples down the existing government and the defeated government is exiled but operates its functions from the territory of another state, such a government can be granted recognition.

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    5. Collective Recognition

    If more than one state recognizes a new government, it’s called collective recognition. It is required for a new government if it pursues membership in some international organization or treaty.

    6. Conditional Recognition

    Conditional recognition is granted when the recognized state fulfills certain stipulations in addition to the normal requirements of statehood.


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