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‘States not Governments’: Reforming Britain’s Practice on Diplomatic Recognition, 1973-1980

‘States not Governments’: Reforming Britain’s Practice on Diplomatic Recognition, 1973-1980 Summary The subject of recognition is basic to the way in which relations are conducted between states: they cannot easily communicate if they do not recognize one another’s existence. The question is also a difficult one in international law because, in practice, governments often adopt a pragmatic approach when specific instances of recognition arise. One important difference in practice was between countries — including Britain until 1980 — that extended recognition to particular governments and those that focused simply on the recognition of states . However, in April 1980, Britain’s Foreign Secretary, Lord Carrington, announced a change in practice, so that London would ‘recognize States in accordance with common international doctrine’. This announcement followed years of discussion within the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, a discussion that was influenced by complex legal considerations over recognition and by membership of the European Community. This article investigates how and why such a change in British practice on recognition came about, showing that the British also gave consideration to a compromise solution, which would have involved tacit recognition of new governments, short of dispensing with such recognition altogether. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png The Hague Journal of Diplomacy Brill

‘States not Governments’: Reforming Britain’s Practice on Diplomatic Recognition, 1973-1980

The Hague Journal of Diplomacy , Volume 9 (1): 51 – Jan 1, 2014

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Publisher
Brill
Copyright
© Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands
ISSN
1871-1901
eISSN
1871-191X
DOI
10.1163/1871191X-12341268
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Summary The subject of recognition is basic to the way in which relations are conducted between states: they cannot easily communicate if they do not recognize one another’s existence. The question is also a difficult one in international law because, in practice, governments often adopt a pragmatic approach when specific instances of recognition arise. One important difference in practice was between countries — including Britain until 1980 — that extended recognition to particular governments and those that focused simply on the recognition of states . However, in April 1980, Britain’s Foreign Secretary, Lord Carrington, announced a change in practice, so that London would ‘recognize States in accordance with common international doctrine’. This announcement followed years of discussion within the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, a discussion that was influenced by complex legal considerations over recognition and by membership of the European Community. This article investigates how and why such a change in British practice on recognition came about, showing that the British also gave consideration to a compromise solution, which would have involved tacit recognition of new governments, short of dispensing with such recognition altogether.

Journal

The Hague Journal of DiplomacyBrill

Published: Jan 1, 2014

Keywords: diplomatic recognition; United Kingdom; international law; Foreign and Commonwealth Office; European Community; Margaret Thatcher

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