STATEHOOD, RECOGNITION, AND PERSONALITY
Sovereign and independent states are distinct and primary subjects of international law. They are also regarded as objective international persons. However, the territorial integrity and political unity of a state is not static. The process of decolonisation, secession, union, and even reunification is continuously contributing to the making and breaking of states and the remaking of states. This explains why there is still room for the creation of new states in this so-called decolonised era. Quite apart from the formation of many new states by colonial peoples and their territories, the international community has been witnessing at regular intervals the emergence of new states from existing states exemplified by Bangladesh, the Baltic states and the Balkan states, including Kosovo. South Sudan is the youngest to acquire statehood by seceding from Sudan. There is hardly any region of the world that is free from this trend or at least demands for independent statehood identity.
These entities emerge and operate on international arena not as a matter of design but of historical accident often motivated by some common tangible factors, shared expectations, and common destiny of present and future security. Being disruptive to the existing state-centric world order, these entities invariably exist over a period of time unrecognised – a striking limitation on their international personality and competence. Nonetheless, these entities participate and are capable of participating in international activities. This has precisely happened in the case of the Republic of Star and the Independent State of Moon. The Republic of Star and the Independent State of Moon in the continent of Earth have proclaimed their respective unilateral declaration of independence (UDI) in 2001, severed all previous ties and relationships with their parent states, and asserted their own personality as independent states. Both entities also sought formal recognition from the existing states.
In response to appeal for recognition by the Republic of Star, a number of existing states including some powerful ones, which are permanent members of the UN Security Council. Indeed, five of such existing states have rendered their full diplomatic recognition to the Republic of Star which has actively been engaged in a bloody civil war with its parent state, as the parent state sought to suppress the secessionist bid. In this civil war however the liberation army of the Republic of Star has suffered a military defeat. And the Republic of Star, after surviving for ten years with formal recognition from five states and informal recognition from others, is now eventually reabsorbed with its parent state. The Republic of Star no longer exists as a state in international law.
The situation of the Independent State of Moon appears to be somewhat different. Instead of waging a civil war, its parent state opted to launch a diplomatic campaign against the UDI of Moon and managed to persuade the world community and its forum, the UN, not to recognise the situation generated by the UDI of Moon. The response of the international community and UN members was overwhelming. The entire international community of states and the UN did not recognize the UDI of Moon. Even the UN General Assembly and the Security Council went further by adopting a series of resolutions condemning the UDI of Moon and calling upon UN members not to recognize the so-called Independent State of Moon. Thus the Independent State of Moon remains universally unrecognised but continues to survive and operate as an entity with all features of statehood independent of its parent state.
Given the circumstances referred to, you are required to give your legal opinion on the following two contentious matters:
- Did the Republic of Star acquire statehood in international law during its ten years of secessionist civil war with its parent state? What was the effect of recognition of the Republic of Star by five states in international law? (20 marks)
- Did the Independent State of Moon acquire its statehood in international law despite its universal non-recognition by the international community of states? What was the significance of the universal non-recognition of the Independent State of Moon in international law? (20 marks)
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