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Recognition of a State

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HomeBrud.gifInternational LawBrud.gifRecognition of a State

According to International Law, Recognition is the formal acknowledgment of the status of an independent State by other existing states.

  • Every State has to have some essential features, called attributes of statehood, in order for other States to recognize the State as independent.
  • States are considered as the principal persons in International Law.
  • The recognition of a state is often a political act of a state.
  • Recognition is not a conclusive proof of the existence of the state.

Theories of Recognition

Recognition of a State is more of a political concept than a legal concept because there are no specific rules for recognition of a State.

There are two popular theories laid down for the purpose of understanding the nature of recognition:

  • Constitutive Theory
  • Declarative or Evidentiary Theory

Constitutive Theory

According to this theory, recognition is a necessary condition for statehood and personality. It is a process by which a political community acquires personality and becomes a member of the family of nations. A State comes into existence through recognition only and exclusively.


  • Poland and Czechoslovakia were recognized by the instrumentality of the Treaty of Versailles.
  • Germany was divided into two parts after the World War II by a treaty
  • Korea was divided into two parts

Disadvantages of the theory

  • Recognition is political and diplomatic but not legal. This theory imposes an obligation on all member states to recognize a State. Practically, no states wants to do something on obligation.
  • There is no law the obliges established states to recognize new States.
  • Recognition of a State can be done by few States and others might refuse. According to this theory, the recognition should be done by all the States.
    • Palestine is recognized as country by 80 nations thought it does not have a definite territory, population and a definite Government.
    • Isreal is formed in 1947 by the United Nations Organization. Within few hours, many countries too recognized it. However, India recognized it in 1992.

Declarative Theory or Evidentiary Theory

This theory states that declaration is a mere formality and has no legal effect as the existence of a State is a mere question of fact.

Every new state becomes a member of the family of nations ipso facto by its coming into existence. Recognition only provides the evidence to this fact. This theory says recognition is not important.


The theory fails to explain legal rights and consequent of a recognized state.

Example: Taiwan is a democratic country and is adjoining areas where Chinese territory. Only few countries recognize Taiwan yet it had business dealings with almost every country.

Forms of Recognition

  • Express Recognition
    • An existing state recognizes another state by releasing a public statement by way of notification or a declaration announcing the intention of recognition
    • Grant is expressed in written words
  • Implied Recognition
    • Does not release a formal state but recognizes the state by some acts which imply that the state is being recognized.
    • Unilateral Acts
      • State entering into bilateral treaty establishes diplomatic relations with an unrecognized state.
    • Collective Acts
      • A new state is recognized collectively by the existing states.

Modes of Recognition

There are two important modes of recognition:

  • De Facto Recognition
  • De Jure Recognition

De Facto Recognition

This is a provision recognition and not a permanent one. i.e it can be withdrawn by other States at any time. It is the first step towards becoming a recognized country. Recognition is only by fact and not legal. State may have more than one Governments. No exchange of diplomatic representatives takes places. State succession might not happen. Mere de facto recognition is not sufficient to get UN membership.

Example: Israel, Bangladesh, Taiwan, Sahawi Arab Republic etc.

De Jure Recognition

This is a permanent recognition which one granted cannot be taken back or withdrawn by other States. It is regal and rightful. State will have only one Governments. Exchange of diplomatic representatives takes places. State succession happens smoothly. de jure recognition by majority states his essential for UN membership.

Related Case Laws

  • Luther vs. Sagor (1921 (1) KB 456)

See Also