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United States Department of State / Foreign relations of the United States, 1948. The Western Hemisphere

Multilateral relations,   pp. 1-278 PDF (102.6 MB)

Page 17

           PaperPrepared by the Policy Planning Staff1
CONFIDENTIAL                           WASHINGTON, Maroh 15, 1948.
Problem: To establish the policy of the Department regarding the
     recognition of new governments
   1. The problem of recognition of governments has been placed on
the agenda of the forthcoming 9th International Conference of Amer-
ican States at the initiative of the Ecuadoran Government in propos-
ing a convention to eliminate recognition of de facto governments, and
of the Guatemalan Government in proposing an agreement not to
recognize "anti-democratic" regimes. This question, is under study
the Department, and the time is opportune to establish our recognition
policy on a worldwide basis.
   2. A study of United States policy in the recognition of new gov-
ernments prepared in the Department last year by IRE 2 states that
what is referred to as our traditional policy of recognition of new
governments on the de facto principle has been subject to a wide varia-
tion of interpretation during the past century and a half. The de facto
principle, first enunciated by Secretary of State Jefferson stated "It
accords with our principles to acknowledge any government to be
rightful which is formed by the will of the nation, substantially de-
clared. . ... The will of the nation is the only thing essential to be
regarded." A Department instruction in 1900 expressed an extreme
and simplified interpretation of the de facto principle in stating that
United States policy was "to base the recognition of a foreign govern-
ment solely ,on its de facto ability to) hold the reins of administrative
power". Ability and willingness of the de facto government to dis-
charge international obligations has been one of the principles upon
which U.S. recognition has been based for many years. At some periods
.such as those of our own Civil War and during the Wilson Adminis-
tration a requirement of "constitutionality" was a factor; which
rise to the problem of moral censure or the use of non-recognition as
a political weapon. According to the RE memorandum, the consensus
is that non-recognition has not proved very effective as a political
  Approved by the Secretary of State. Copy transmitted in a circular instruc-
  tion to diplomatic representatives in the American Republics (not printed),
June 8, 1948 which noted that "a Resolution on the 'Exercise of, the
Right to
Continuity of Diplomatic Relations' was approved as Article XXXIII of the
Final Act of the Ninth International Conference of American Stattes held
In BogotA. This Resolution is in harmony with the policy set forth in the
-Planning Staff paper."
  2o printed.

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