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What constitutes the sovereign state?

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  26 October 2009


One might try to determine just what constitutes a sovereign state empirically, by examining the characteristics of states whose sovereignty is indisputable. All sovereign states, it might be observed, have territory, people, and a government. Curiously, however, cogent standards do not seem to exist either in law or in practice for the dimensions, number of people, or form of government that might be required of a sovereign state. Indeed, a United Nations General Assembly Resolution declared that neither small size, nor remote geographical location, nor limited resources constitutes a valid objection to sovereign statehood.

Research Article
Copyright © British International Studies Association 1996

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1 James, Alan, Sovereign Statehood: The Basis of International Society (London, 1986), p. 20Google Scholar. James further observed: ‘It is indeed remarkable that there has been a widespread failure by writers on international relations to ask … [what it is about a sovereign state which enables it to participate in the international system alongside others of its kind]. For it is in a very real sense the most basic [question] which can be asked about their subject.’

2 ‘Question of American Samoa, Bahamas, Brunei, Cayman Islands, Cocos (Keeling) Islands, Gilbert and Ellice Islands, Guam, Montserrat, New Hebrides; Pitcairn, St. Helena, Seychelles, Solomon Islands, Turks and Caicos Islands and the United States Virgin Islands’, United Nations Resolutions: Resolutions of the General Assembly, ser. 1, vol. 13, 1970–1, pp. 180Google Scholar, 459–60.

3 The ten square miles that make up the South Pacific microstate of Tuvalu (formerly the Ellice Islands in the Gilbert and Ellice chain) are at their highest point only three feet above sea level. Conceivably, a typhoon could submerge the entire sovereign state of 9,000 people.

4 One authority went so far as to note: ‘In the world as we know it in the 1990s, no fact about states is more obvious than the impermanence of their boundaries.’ Lustick, Ian S., Unsettled States, Disputed Lands: Britain and Ireland, France and Algeria, Israel and the West Bank-Gaza (Ithaca, NY, 1993), p. 1Google Scholar.

5 See Wright, Quincy, The Existing Legal Situation as it Relates to the Conflict in the Far East (New York, 1939), p. 45Google Scholar n.1.

6 See ibid., pp. 178–9, 199. The Kurdish nation is comprised of 16–20 million people.

7 The wealthy island of Nauru encompasses eight square miles and contains a population of about 8,400. Although the smallest republic in the world, Nauru has parlayed its extraordinary deposits of phosphate to become one of the richest per capita states. About 45,000 people live on St Kitts and Nevis, the least populated sovereign state in the Western Hemisphere. For an account of the problems St Kitts has faced in having Great Britain respect its sovereignty, see Alexis, Francis, ‘British Intervention in St. Kitts’, New York University Journal of International Law and Politics, 16 (1983–4), pp. 581600Google Scholar.

8 Dr Muhammad Iqbal proposed the creation of a separate state for Muslims in 1930, only seventeen years before the British transferred sovereignty to India and Pakistan.

9 See Hannum, Hurst, Autonomy, Sovereignty, and Self-Determination: The Accommodation of Conflicting Rights (Philadelphia, PA, 1990), p. 327Google Scholar.

10 In disputing the independence of Mauritania, Moroccan diplomat Ben Aboud argued: ‘The population of that area does not even know the word “Mauritania.” If you tell a Bedouin of so-called Mauritania that you are in Mauritania, he will not understand what you are talking about.’ Franck, Thomas M., ‘The Stealing of the Sahara’, American Journal of International Law, 70 (1976), p. 694CrossRefGoogle Scholar, n.5.

11 For a different approach to this issue see Buzan, Barry, People, States, and Fear: The National Security Problem in International Relations (Chapel Hill, NC, 1983), pp. 40–1Google Scholar.

12 See Claude, Inis L. Jr, ‘The Tension Between Principle and Pragmatism in International Relations’, Review of International Studies, 19 (1993), pp. 215–26CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

13 See Jackson, Robert H. and Rosenberg, Carl G., ‘Why Africa's Weak States Persist: The Empirical and Juridical in Statehood’, World Politics, 35 (1982), p. 1CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

14 See James, Sovereign Statehood, pp. 13–15.

15 In 1577 in Six livres de la republique, Jean Bodin, perhaps the first recognized authority on sovereignty, noted that sovereignty has internal and external dimensions. See DeLupis, Ingrid, International Law and the Independent State (New York, 1974), p. 3Google Scholar. For a recent translation of Bodin's chief work on sovereignty see Bodin, Jean, On Sovereignty: Four Chapters From the Six Books on the Commonwealth, ed. and tr. Franklin, Julian H. (New York, 1992)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

16 Wight, Martin, Systems of States, ed. Bull, Hedley (Leicester, 1977), p. 30Google Scholar.

17 See Article 1(2) of the Covenant of the League of Nations. The Covenant of the League of Nations (New York, 1936), p. 2Google Scholar.

18 Bull, Hedley, The Anarchical Society (London, 1977), pp. 89CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

19 Hinsley, F. H., Sovereignty (New York, 1966), p. 26Google Scholar.

20 Black's Law Dictionary: Definitions of Terms and Phrases of American and English Jurisprudence, Ancient ami Modern (5th edn rev., St Paul, MN, 1979), p. 1,252Google Scholar.

21 Inis Claude observed: ‘Most people are addicted to the overstatement of their favorite propositions, the exaggeration of the scope of their generalizations. We say “always” when we mean “sometimes,” and “certainly” when we mean “perhaps”; we tend to convert conditional thoughts into absolute standards.’ Claude, ‘Tension’, p. 219.

22 Charles Marshall, Burton, The Exercise of Sovereignty: Papers on Foreign Policy (Baltimore, MD, 1965), p. 4.Google Scholar

23 Aron, Raymond, Peace and War: A Theory of International Relations, tr. Howard, Richard A. and Baker-Fox, Annette (New York, 1967), p. 746Google Scholar.

24 Ibid., p. 739. James likewise claimed: ‘What sovereignty refers to … is the presence, within a governed community, of supreme legal authority—so that such a community can be said to possess sovereignty, or to be sovereign, if it does not look beyond its own borders for the ultimate source of its own legitimacy.’ James, Sovereign Statehood, p. 3.

25 Aron, Peace and War, p. 739 (italics in original).

26 The newly independent states first pressed this course of action in the United Nations and obtained a series of sweeping declarations against colonialism. See Claude, Inis L. Jr, The Changing United Nations (New York, 1967), pp. 96–7Google Scholar.

27 United States v. Rice, 15 US (4 Wheat.) 391, 392 (1819). See also Keene v. McDonough, 33 US (8 Pet.) 110, 113(1834) (decree of Spanish court in Louisiana held binding, after date at which Louisiana was ceded to the United States, but before delivery of possession). But see Davis v. Policy Jury of the Parish of Concordia, 50 US (9 How.) 139, 148 (1850) (exclusive ferry franchise, granted by Spanish governor held void since, prior to delivery, the ceding state cannot exercise sovereignty other than regarding matters necessary for social order or commercial purposes).

28 Ibid., 393.

29 Jaffe, Louis L., Judicial Aspects of Foreign Relations: In Particular of the Recognition of Foreign Powers (Cambridge, MA, 1933).CrossRefGoogle Scholar

30 The Arantzazu Mendi, 9 International Law Reports 60 (1939)Google Scholar.

31 Shaw, Malcolm N., International Law (3rd edn rev., New York, 1991), p. 266Google Scholar.

32 James Rosenau argued: ‘[T]he autonomous capacity of states to be effective at home can be seen as increasingly dependent on either favorable circumstances abroad or the cooperation of foreign actors.’ Rosenau, James N., ‘The State in an Era of Cascading Politics: Wavering Concept, Widening Competence, Withering Colossus, or Weathering Change?’, in Caporaso, James A. (ed.), The Elusive State: International and Comparative Perspectives (Newbury Park, CA, 1989), p. 23Google Scholar.

33 Stephen Krasner noted: ‘The claims that states have made with regard to the authoritative control of movements of people, commodities, investments, and information, ideas, or culture across their international boundaries have changed across time and over countries.’ Stephen D. Krasner, ‘Sovereignty: An Institutional Perspective’, in Caporaso (ed.), Elusive Stale, p. 90.

34 For a similarly phrased observation, see Lustick, Unsettled States, p. 443.

35 Charles Burton Marshall counselled: ‘For simplicity and clarity, the absolute modifier absolute applied to sovereignty can well be disposed of at once … I can scarcely imagine any faculty or endeavor wholly untrammeled, infinite, or … beyond contingency … [Sovereignty, … at root, … merely denotes superiority … Applied to a finite government, sovereignty merely is a term implicit of ascendancy established with respect to … the government's capacity to function as a going concern. ‘ Marshall, Exercise of Sovereignty, p. 4 (italics in original).

36 Benn, Stanley I., ‘The Uses of “Sovereignty”’, in Stankiewicz, W. J. (ed.), In Defense of Sovereignty (New York, 1969), pp. 80–1.Google Scholar

37 One such exception might be Somalia in the early 1990s, which, some might argue, in the midst of political chaos and famine lost its sovereignty. However, others would hold that a state experiencing such a severe internal crisis is not stripped of sovereign status, but instead is accorded a lesser basket of sovereign rights than that enjoyed by many of its peers. See Fowler, Michael Ross and Bunck, Julie Marie, Law, Power, and the Sovereign Slate: The Evolution and Application of the Concept of Sovereignty (University Park, PA, 1995), pp. 6382Google Scholar. See also Fowler, Michael Ross and Bunck, Julie Marie, ‘The Chun k and Basket Theories of Sovereignty’, in Thompson, Kenneth W. (ed.), Community, Diversity, and a New World Order: Essays in Honor of Inis L. Claude, Jr. (Lanham, MD, 1994), pp. 137–44Google Scholar.

38 Robert Jackson observed: ‘Ramshackle states today are … not allowed to disappear juridically-even if for all intents and purposes they have already fallen or been pulled down in fact. They cannot be deprived of sovereignty as a result of war, conquest, partition, or colonialism such as frequently happened in the past. The juridical cart is now before the empirical horse.’ Jackson, Robert H., Quasi-States: Sovereignty, International Relations and the Third World (New York, 1990), pp. 23–4.Google Scholar

39 See ibid., p. 24. For information on sovereignty and Lebanon, see Goria, Wade R., Sovereignty and Leadership in Lebanon 1943–1976 (London, 1985)Google Scholar and Saseen, Sandra M., ‘The Taif Accord and Lebanon's Struggle to Regain its Sovereignty’, American University Journal of International Law and Policy, 6 (1990), pp. 5775Google Scholar.

40 Duchacek, Ivo D., Nations and Men: International Politics Today (New York, 1966), p. 48Google Scholar.

41 See Henkin, Louis, How Nations Behave: Law and Foreign Policy (2nd edn rev., New York, 1979), p. 17Google Scholar.

42 David Mitrany wryly observed: ‘It is curiously true that after trouncing the claim to “divine right” of the absolute monarchs, political theory allowed it to be transferred to the absolute State, and we have suffered it to persist to our own day, though our culture rejects the absolute and our outlook discounts the divine in politics.’ Mitrany, David, The Progress of International Government (New Haven, CT, 1933), p. 71Google Scholar.

43 Rosenau, ‘The State in an Era o f Cascading Polities’, p. 23.

44 See K. W. B. Middleton, ‘Sovereignty in Theory and Practice’, in Stankiewicz (ed.), In Defense of Sovereignty, pp. 146–7. See also ibid., pp. 140–1.

45 Wright, Quincy, Mandates Under the League of Nations (New York, 1968), p. 274Google Scholar.

46 Schooner Exchange v. M'Faddon & Others, 11 US (7 Cranch) 116, 136 (1812). Chief Justice Marshall pointed out that the notion of diplomatic immunity also represents a waiver of the absolute independence of sovereigns. Ibid., 138.

47 See League of Nations, Treaty Series, ‘Convention on Certain Questions relating to the Conflict of Nationality Laws, signed at The Hague’, 12 April 1930, Societe des Nations, 179, no. 4137 (1937), pp. 91137Google Scholar. Article I states: ‘It is for each State to determine under its own law who are its nationals’ (ibid., p. 99). See also Nationality Decrees in Tunis and Morocco [G. Br./Fr.], Permanent Court of International Justice Publications (hereafter PCIJ) (Ser. B), No. 4, at 6 (1923) (Adv. Op.).

48 The German government acknowledged this principle in a statement prepared for a 1929 League of Nations Conference for the Codification of International Law, convened prior to the 1930 Hague Convention on Nationality Laws. See Brownlie, Ian, Principles of Public International Law (Oxford, 1979), p. 370Google Scholar.

49 See, for example, Lee, Rensselaer W. III, ‘Why the U.S. Cannot Stop South American Cocaine’, Orbis, 32 (1988), pp. 513–19Google Scholar. For an interesting account of Americans reacting similarly after US officials authorized Mexican police to search streetcars leaving El Paso, Texas for Juarez, Mexico, see Nadelmann, Ethan A., Cops Across Borders: The Internationalization of U.S. Criminal Law Enforcement (University Park, PA, 1993), p. 79Google Scholar. An active American role in Colombian juridical and law-enforcement matters might also be viewed as compromising Colombia's defacto external independence, as that concept is defined in the following pages of this article. Curiously, while Colombians, Hondurans, and others have viewed the extradition of national citizens to a foreign legal system as derogating from their sovereignty, they have often welcomed foreign legal assistance programmes, perhaps because of the formal invitation offered by one sovereign to another. See generally Fowler, Michael Ross and Bunck, Julie Marie, ‘Legal Imperialism or Disinterested Assistance: American Legal Aid in the Caribbean Basin’, Albany Law Review, 55 (1992), pp. 815–47Google Scholar, esp. pp. 843–7.

50 James, Sovereign Statehood, p. 20. James also pointed out that the state need not in fact be active internationally. An isolationist state can be sovereign, if it is able to assert itself when it wishes to do so. Ibid., p. 24.

51 See Hannum, Autonomy, p. 152.

52 See ‘Cablegram dated 21 August 1948 from the Hyderabad Government to the President of the Security Council’, United Nations Security Council Official Records (hereafter UNSCOR), Suppl. (UN DOC S/986), September 1948, p. 5; ‘Cablegram dated 12 September 1948 from the Hyderabad Government to the President of the Security Council’, UNSCOR, Suppl. (UN DOC S/998), September 1948, p. 5; ‘Cablegram dated 13 September 1948 from the Hyderabad Government to the President of the Security Council’, UNSCOR, Suppl. (UN DOC S/1000), September 1948, p. 5Google Scholar.

53 ‘The Hyderabad Question’, United Nations Resolutions: Resolutions and Decisions of the Security Council, ser. 2, vol. 2, 1948–50, p. 42Google Scholar.

54 ‘Cablegram dated 22 September 1948 from the Nizam of Hyderabad’, UNSCOR, Suppl. (UN DOC S/1011), September 1948, p. 7.

55 Hans Morgenthau observed: ‘At the root of the perplexities which attend the problem of the loss of sovereignty there is the divorce, in contemporary legal and political theory, of the concept of sovereignty from the political reality to which the concept of sovereignty is supposed to give legal expression.’ Morgenthau, Hans J., Politics among Nations: The Strugglefor Power and Peace (New York, 1948), p. 249Google Scholar.

56 Wilkinson, Herbert A., The American Doctrine of Stale Succession (Westport, CT, 1975), p. 119Google Scholar. Hans Morgenthau described sovereignty in absolute terms as follows: “[E]ach state is free to manage its internal and external affairs according to its own discretion, in so far as it is not limited by treaty or … common international law. The individual state has the right to give itself any constitution it pleases, to enact whatever laws it wishes regardless of their effect upon its own citizens, and to choose any system of administration. It is free to have whatever kind of military establishment it deems necessary for the purposes of its foreign policy which, in turn, it is free to determine as it sees fit.’ Morgenthau, Politics among Nations, pp. 245–6.

57 Claude, Inis L. Jr, American Approaches to World Affairs (Lanham, MD, 1986), p. 39Google Scholar.

58 See Goodwin, Geoffrey L., ‘The Erosion of External Sovereignty?’, in Ionescu, Ghita (ed.), Between Sovereignty and Integration (New York, 1974), pp. 100–17Google Scholar.

59 Willoughby, Westel W., Fundamental Concepts of Public Law (New York, 1924)Google Scholar, cited in O'Rourke, Vernon A., The Juristic Status of Egypt and the Sudan (Baltimore, MD, 1935), p. 21Google Scholar.

60 James, Sovereign Statehood, p. 24.

61 Ibid., p. 24. James hastened to explain that by defining sovereignty in this manner, he did not mean to imply that constitutionalism-that is, the conduct of a government in accordance with the country's constitution-is a factor in determining whether a political entity qualifies as a sovereign state. Rather, James described sovereignty as primarily determined by whether the entity in question is encumbered by constitutional links to another state. Ibid., p. 25.

62 Ibid., p. 24. James's approach leads to the conclusion that sovereignty is not a concept of international law at all, but that international law presupposes sovereignty. Ibid., p. 40. For a somewhat similar view, citing the history of political philosophy, see Hinsley, Sovereignty, pp. 185–96.

63 See generally James, Alan, ‘The UN Force in Cyprus’, International Affairs, 65 (Summer, 1989), pp. 481500CrossRefGoogle Scholar, esp. p. 483; Dugard, John, Recognition and the United Nations (Cambridge, 1987), pp. 108–11Google Scholar.

64 UN Security Council Resolution 550 (1984), cited in James, Alan, ‘Unit Veto Dominance in United Nations Peace-keeping’, in Finkelstein, Lawrence S. (ed.), Politics in the United Nations System (Durham, NC, 1988), p. 83Google Scholar.

65 Buzan, People, States, and Fear, p. 43.

66 See Cook Islands Constitution Act, pp. 2,033, 2,040–1. See also Alexis, ‘British Intervention’, p. 586, n.29.

67 Haas, Ernst B. and Whiting, Allan S., Dynamics of International Relations (New York, 1956), p. 61Google Scholar, n.3. This approach harks back to the words of nineteenth-century international lawyer Sir Robert Phillimore: ‘International law has no concern with the form, character, or power of a state, if, through the medium of a government, it has such an independent existence as to render it capable of entertaining international relations with other states.’ Andrews, J. A., ‘The Concept of Statehood and the Acquisition of Territory in the Nineteenth Century’, The Law Quarterly Review, 94 (1978), p. 425Google Scholar.

68 This approach echoes that taken at the 1933 Montevideo Convention on the Rights and Duties of States. Article One of that Inter-American Convention reads: ‘The state as a person of international law should possess the following qualifications: (a) a permanent population; (b) a defined territory; (c) government; and (d) capacity to enter into relations with other states.’ ‘Rights and Duties of States (Inter-American)’, Treaties and Other International Agreements of the United States of America, vol. 3, ed. Bevans, C. I. (Washington, DC, 1969), pp. 145–51.Google Scholar

69 A recent complaint, signed and stamped by Secretary of Foreign Affairs C. Aran, declared that the republic would not ‘tolerate any tampering, trespassing or titillating with any of the sacred island territories of our invincible republic’. Miami Herald (Int'l Edn), 22 January 1992, p. 11AGoogle Scholar.

70 Lighthouses in Crete and Samos [Greece v. Fr.], Permanent Court of International Justice Publications (Ser. A/B), No. 71, at 94 (1937).

71 The term of the contract was 1924–49, and compensation was to be paid through the collection of shipping dues.

72 ‘Treaty of Peace between Bulgaria, Greece, Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey, signed at London’, The Consolidated Treaty Series, ed. Parry, Clive, vol. 218, 1913 (Dobbs Ferry, NY, 1980), pp. 159–61Google Scholar.

73 Lighthouses Case Between France and Greece [Greece v. Fr.J, PCIJ (Ser. A/B), No. 62, at 3 (1934).

74 Lighthouses in Crete and Samos, at 104–5.

75 Ibid., 127.

76 O'Rourke, Vernon A., The Juristic Status of Egypt and the Sudan (Baltimore, MD, 1935), p. 10Google Scholar.

77 A. F. Pollard made this point about the balance of power. Pollard, A. F., ‘The Balance of Power’, Journal of the British Institute of International Affairs, 2 (1923), pp. 5164CrossRefGoogle Scholar, cited in Claude, Inis L. Jr, Power and International Relations (New York, 1962), p. 12Google Scholar.

78 Duchacek, Ivo D., Nations and Men: International Politics Today (New York, 1966), p. 47Google Scholar. In some states rulers may also have been expected to defer to customary laws. See James, Sovereign Statehood, p. 4. See also Hinsley, Sovereignty, p. 122.

79 In tracing the history of this effort Joseph Strayer wrote: ‘[W]hen feudal theory had been elaborated to the point where it allowed the king to regulate all justice and to tax all men, suzerainty was coming very close to sovereignty’ Strayer, Joseph R., On the Medieval Origins of the Modern State (Princeton, NJ, 1970), p. 43Google Scholar.

80 See Wright, Quincy, The Existing Legal Situation as it Relates to the Conflict in the Far East (New York, 1939), p. 18Google Scholar. More generally, see Luard, Evan, Types of International Society (New York, 1976), pp. 312–29Google Scholar. See also Thomson, Janice E., Mercenaries, Pirates and Sovereigns: State-Building and Extraterritorial Violence in Early Modern Europe (Princeton, NJ, 1994)Google Scholar and Wilks, Michael, The Problem of Sovereignty in the Later Middle Ages: The Papal Monarchy with Augustinus Triumphus and the Publicists (Cambridge, 1964)Google Scholar.

81 George Kennan observed: ‘[T]his concept of sovereignty, the supremacy of a single ruler, was often conceived to have universal significance-to be applicable, that is, to all of the known civilized world. The particular ruler in question laid claim to be superior to any other ruler in authority. His supremacy was expected to be acknowledged by anyone else who had any authority over people anywhere.’ Kennan, George F., Around the Cragged Hill: A Personal and Political Philosophy (New York, 1993), p. 87Google Scholar.

82 For a historical account of this process, see Watson, Adam, The Evolution of International Society (London, 1992)Google Scholar.

83 See Bodin, On Sovereignty. For a general analysis of Bodin's contribution to thought on sovereignty see Hinsley, Sovereignty, pp. 122–5. For an interesting, yet dated, discussion of the development of different meanings of sovereignty see Lansing, Robert, Notes on Sovereignly: From the Standpoint of the State and of the World (Washington, DC, 1921).Google Scholar

84 See generally Hinsley, Sovereignty, pp. 107, 122–32.

85 Strayer, On the Medieval Origins of the Modern State, p. 102.

86 For a discussion of this process see Mosse, George L., The Struggle for Sovereignty in England: From the Reign of Queen Elizabeth to the Petition of Right (New York, 1968)Google Scholar.

87 For the early history of Outer Mongolian political ties to China and the Soviet Union see Wright, Existing Legal Situation, pp. 59–60.

88 Philosopher Jacques Maritain observed: ‘Of course we are free to say ‘Sovereignty’ while we are thinking full autonomy or right to decide without appeal-as we are free to say "omnipotence" while … thinking limited power, or "drum" while … thinking flute. Yet the result for our own way of thinking and for intelligible intercommunication would appear questionable.’ See Jacques Maritain, ‘The Concept of Sovereignty’, in Stankiewicz (ed.), In Defense of Sovereignty, p. 61.

89 Claude, Inis L. Jr, ‘The Peace-keeping Role of the United Nations’, in Tompkins, E. Berkeley (ed.), The United Nations in Perspective (Stanford, CA, 1967), p. 49Google Scholar.

90 The outstanding exception is Quincy Wright, who observed: ‘[M]ost governments, courts and jurists assumed that a state, whether it had long existed in fact, like Turkey, or had recently become a de facto state through successful revolution like the United States, could not become a member of the Family of Nations and a state dejure except through admission to that circle by the states already in it.’ Wright, Existing Legal Situation, pp. 26–7. Robert Jackson likewise declared: ‘New statehood therefore springs from international recognition … New states are legally “posited“ by formal actions of international society and the will of states already established.’ Jackson, Quasi-States, p. 78, citing Wight, System of States, p. 118.

91 Wright, Existing Legal Situation, p. 28 (emphasis added).

92 In determining sovereign status by gauging the will of the international community, Quincy Wright observed, ‘The Family of Nations… has not developed procedures through which it clearly manifests the collective will on all occasions. Ordinarily its attitude is manifested only through the consensus of the will of its members expressed in individual acts of recognition over a long period of time.’ Ibid., p. 44.

93 Shaw, International Law, p. 246.

94 Ibid.

95 On 11 June 1990, Namibia became the seventy-fourth state to recognize the SADR. In 1984 SADR became a full member of the Organization of African Unity, causing Morocco to withdraw from the organization in protest.

96 See Gowlland-Debbas, Vera, ‘Collective Responses to the Unilateral Declarations of Independence of Southern Rhodesia and Palestine: An Application of the Legitimizing Function of the United Nations’, The British Year Book of International Law, 61 (1990), pp. 135–6CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

97 Presumably, leaders of the states that failed to recognize the People's Republic of China did not question that the state of China had attained defacto independence. Rather, they feared the political repercussions of acknowledging the sovereignty of what they viewed as an illegitimate Marxist-Leninist regime in China.

98 Gowlland-Debbas, ‘Collective Responses’, pp. 135–6.

99 See ‘U.S. Recognizes Macedonia Over Greek Objections’, Washington Post, 10 February 1994, p. A23Google Scholar.

100 Manchukuo was comprised of three eastern provinces of China—Heilungkiang (or Manchuria), Kirin, and Fengtien (or Liaoning)—along with the province of Inner Mongolia known as Jehol. The only states to recognize Manchukuo were Japan, Italy, Germany, Poland, and El Salvador. See Wright, Existing Legal Situation, pp. 39, 56–8.

101 See generally, ‘Non-recognition of States and Territorial Acquisitions: The Practice of the United Nations’, in Dugard, Recognition, pp. 81–122. For a case involving the issue of sovereignty over the homeland state of Ciskei, see Gur Corporation v. Trust Bank of America, 75 International Law Reports 675 (1987)Google Scholar. For an analysis of the Gur Corporation case see Shaw, International Law, pp. 270–1.

102 Jackson and Rosberg, ‘Why Africa's Weak States’, pp. 16–17.

103 See Lerche, Charles O. Jr and Said, Abdul A., Concepts of International Politics (Englewood Cliffs, NJ, 1970), p. 107Google Scholar. The authors correctly observed: ‘The persistence of states in acting as if sovereignty were a reality gives the doctrine great political significance. ’

104 Wright, Existing Legal Situation, p. 27.

105 In his article ‘Collective Legitimization as a Political Function of the United Nations’, Inis Claude noted: ‘The United Nations has been heavily involved in matters relating to the question of the ratification and solidification of the status claimed … by political entities. Generally, this can be subsumed under the heading of membership business; admission to or seating in the organization has tended to take on the political meaning, if not the legal implication, of collective recognition. New states have been inclined to regard the grant of membership as the definitive acknowledgment of their independence.’ Claude continued: ‘Non-admission of the segments of divided states appears to have been motivated in part by the conviction that admission would somehow sanctify existing divisions, thereby diminishing the prospects for future reunification.’ Claude, Inis L. Jr, States and the Global System: Politics, Law and Organization (New York, 1988), p. 155CrossRefGoogle Scholar.