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acknowledgment of the admission of new states into the international community by political action of states that are already members. Its derivation is found in the policy of the older European powers, which, after developing a system of binding diplomatic usage, refused to permit the admission of new states to the concert of nations unless the new power was properly qualified to assume its responsibilities under international law. Recognition is retroactive to the actual date of the establishment of the state or the formation of the new government, and all its acts from that time are valid.

Kinds of Recognition

Three kinds of recognition exist. Recognition of independence occurs when a new state is created, usually by a successful rebellion, and is accepted by members of the international community, either by a formal statement or by entering into diplomatic relations with the new state. Recognition of independence generally takes place after the new nation has demonstrated its ability to maintain itself; if a power recognizes an insurrectionary colony or dependency while the mother country is attempting to crush the rebellion, it is considered an offense to the dominant country that is being ousted. A second type of recognition may occur when a new form of government follows the establishment of a new political force in a country. A republic may be recognized as the successor of a monarchy, or a new president may be acknowledged after the overthrow of the previous incumbent. Recognition of belligerency, the third kind, was introduced into international law when that form of acknowledgment was given (1861) to the Confederate States of America by Great Britain. Such recognition grants the belligerents the rights and duties of a state as they concern war and commerce, but it does not grant the right to enter into official diplomatic relations with neutral nations. In recognizing belligerency, the nation offends the state against which the rebellion is directed. When recognition is de facto it involves a provisional acknowledgment that the government in power is exercising the function of sovereignty. Such recognition is revocable and implies a lesser degree of recognition than the formal recognition accorded de jure [Lat.,=as of right].

Use of Nonrecognition

The withholding of diplomatic recognition may be used in an attempt to force changes of policy on a new government, as illustrated by the nonrecognition of the Huerta (1913) and Obregón (1920) governments in Mexico and of the Communist government in China (1949) by the United States. The United States normally follows a policy known as the Stimson Doctrine (established by Secretary of State Henry Stimson in 1931), which states that the United States does not recognize territorial changes brought about by breach of international obligation. For this reason the United States did not recognize the Japanese-supported government in Manchukuo (1932) or the Italian government in Ethiopia (1936). This principle is implied in the Charter of the United Nations.


See H. Lauterpacht, Recognition in International Law (1947); T. C. Chen, The International Law of Recognition (1951); B. Bot, Nonrecognition and Treaty Relations (1968).


(computer science)
The act or process of identifying (or associating) an input with one of a set of possible known alternatives, as in character recognition and pattern recognition.


i. In imagery interpretation, the determination of type or class of object without a positive identification.
ii. The identification of an aircraft type by any means—visually, by flight plan correlation, by radar signature, etc.


formal acknowledgment of a government or of the independence of a country
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