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What is a State?. Characteristics: The traditional elements of statehood were codified in the 1933 Montevideo Convention on the Rights and Duties of States:

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Presentation on theme: "What is a State?. Characteristics: The traditional elements of statehood were codified in the 1933 Montevideo Convention on the Rights and Duties of States:"— Presentation transcript:

1 What is a State?

2 Characteristics: The traditional elements of statehood were codified in the 1933 Montevideo Convention on the Rights and Duties of States:

3 “The state as a person of international law should possess the following qualifications: a ) a permanent population; b ) a defined territory; c ) [effective control by] government; and d) capacity to enter into relations with the other states.” – From: Retrieved October 15, 2012.http://avalon.law.yale.edu/20th_century/intam03.asp

4 Of these, the first three are generally accepted, the last not usually seen as necessary. – Akehurst, p. 75 We will focus on a – c.

5 a) A Permanent Population: There is no minimum population required for statehood. However, there is a requirement that at least some people live full time in a state.

6 Vatican City has a population of 836 (July 2012 est.) It is the world’s least populous state. https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/vt.html. Retrieved October 15, https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/vt.html

7 More people can live in McMurdo Station, the largest community in Antarctica, than live in Vatican City. This small town is capable of supporting up to 1,258 residents. Retrieved October 15,

8 McMurdo Station

9 The number of people living on the continent and nearby islands varies from about 1,000 in winter to about 5,000 in the summer. –

10 Antarctica has people living in it, but no permanent population – scientists work there for a while and then go back home. It has more people living in it than some states, but does not meet the permanent population requirement. Vatican City has a [tiny] permanent population. It does meet the requirement. » Akehurst, p. 76

11 B) A Defined Territory: There must be a relatively defined piece of territory – We must be able to say, basically, where the state is and what its boundaries are. – Just because there are disputes about some of the boundaries, however, does not mean a state does not exist.

12 For example, a dispute between Syria and Turkey over Hatay, does not mean that one (or both) of these states does not meet this requirement.

13 c ) Effective Control by Government It is not enough for a state to claim sovereignty over a particular territory, it must actually control most of it. Thus the “State of Palestine” declared in 1988 was not generally recognized as a state because all of the territory it claimed was actually controlled by Israel. – Akehurst, p. 77

14 Once an entity is generally recognized as a state, it is generally harder to lose that status in international law than it is to attain that status to begin with. – The government of Lebanon has not had control over all of its territory since the 1970’s, yet it is still considered a state. – Somalia is another example of a state which is broadly recognized in law, but which no longer really meets the government control criterion.

15 Question: – The TRNC has a population, a government, and a defined territory. Is it a state? If not, why not?

16 What about the following entities? Do you know which ones are states? Greenland Abkhazia North Korea Taiwan Nauru

17 Secession and territorial integrity These two principles may often be in conflict.

18 Nauru from the air: Courtesy: U.S. Department of Energy's Atmospheric Radiation Measurement Program.

19 How about the Principality of Sealand? Is it a State? a Sealand Passport

20 Sealand from the air:

21 Recognition Recognition of states: – Recognition by a government that another entity fulfills all of the requirements for statehood. Recognition of governments: – Recognition that a government has control of a territory. – Akehurst, p. 82

22 Recognition of states more important. Some countries no longer recognize governments.

23 Recognition of a state means willingness to deal with it as a member of the international community. – Akehurst p. 83

24 2 traditional views of the legal effects of recognition: 1 - recognition has a “constitutive” effect – the state is created through recognition. 2 – recognition has no effect – a state becomes a state when it fulfills all of the criteria we have discussed earlier. – Akehurst, pp

25 Generally, there is an obligation on behalf of states to treat other entities as states if they have the characteristics of states. Akehurst, p. 85

26 Reasons for non-recognition: – Lack of one or more of the attributes of a state, – State created through a violation of international law, such as Article 2(4) of the UN Charter (prohibiting use of force.) – Akehurst, p

27 The UN security council has adopted resolutions requiring that no country recognize the TRNC on this basis. – Akehurst, p. 85


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