Recognition of states

As a general rule, newly-created states are recognised as such by other states provided their creation is considered legitimate and irreversible. According to the prevailing doctrine of three elements of statehood, recognition requires state territory, a state people and a public authority. However, there is no obligation under international law for one state to recognise another, even where these criteria are met. Conditions for recognition may also vary from state to state.

Recognition of governments

Where the recognition of governments is concerned, the central element is the exercise of sovereign authority over the state. A change of government makes no difference to statehood or state recognition as such. Switzerland is in favour of the widest possible recognition of states but does not, on the other hand, recognise governments.

Last update 14.04.2023


FDFA Directorate of International Law (DIL)

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