Recognition of a State

Recognition of a State


in international law, the set of norms that regulates the process of entry into the international arena by new states as subjects of international law relations.

The main forms of recognition are of new states and new governments that have come to power by “unconstitutional means”—as the result of revolution, civil war, or coup d’etat. Other forms of recognition are of national liberation bodies, resistance organizations, and one side in a war. The recognition of a new state by already existing states consists in a direct declaration or a manifestation in some other way that they consider the new state to be independent and sovereign and a full-fledged participant in international life. Recognition of a new government by other states signifies that the old government no longer represents the particular country and that only the new government, in the opinion of the recognizing states, is capable of representing it in international relations. The typical characteristic of the recognition of a new government, as distinct from the recognition of new states, is that the original state that is subject to international law continues to exist.

The chief forms of recognition are de jure and de facto. Ad hoc recognition also occurs in international relations; such recognition is not official and only signifies entry into relations with the new power concerning a particular issue or cause—for example, the protection of the citizenry or the exchange of prisoners of war. Recognition may be expressed directly, when the party being recognized is sent a special document of recognition, or implicitly, when the consequences of recognition are realized in fact. The establishment of diplomatic relations is always evidence of complete and final recognition.

In the broader sense of the word, recognition in international law is a formal statement (or action) by a state setting forth a concrete fact to which the given state attaches certain legal consequences in the sphere of international relations.

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