Reciprocity, Principle of

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Reciprocity, Principle of


in contemporary international law, one of the basic principles of relations among states.

The principle of reciprocity presupposes that each party will give equal respect to the laws and customs of the other (so-called formal reciprocity), even though the laws and customs of various states with respect to the rights and duties granted to their citizens may differ substantially (so-called material reciprocity). For example, the laws of socialist states ensure their citizens the right to rest, education, and protection of health and the right to a guarantee against unemployment—rights which are not, as a rule, provided by the laws of capitalist countries. There are also various solutions to the question of the right of foreigners to acquire immovable property and property in land. All this means that the observance of material reciprocity is not always possible and necessary. The Statute Concerning Diplomatic and Consular Representatives of Foreign States on the Territory of the USSR of June 1, 1966, may be noted as an example of the conditions of material reciprocity: in addition to universally recognized immunities, rights, and privileges, the personnel of the diplomatic and consular missions of foreign states are granted supplementary rights and privileges on the basis of reciprocity.

The principle of reciprocity was established in the practice of international relations after the Great October Socialist Revolution, which had an enormous influence on the development of international law. Formerly, the foundations of international law had been dominated by inequality, the dictates of the strong imperialist powers, and the “right to war.” The principle of reciprocity is the basis of the Soviet state’s relations with all states, regardless of their economic and social systems.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.