Identify and critically examine the criteria for statehood in international law

Identify and critically examine the criteria for statehood in international law

A state refers to an organized political community. It is generally characterized by existence of a

government, a territory, recognized geopolitical boundaries, sovereignty, population and a

constitution. In international law, a state is territorially defined as an independent institution of

authority which has a complete international legal personality. The criteria for statehood is

provided for in Art 1 of the Pan-American Convention on the Rights and Duties of States

adopted in Montevideo in 1993 (Fry, Goldstein, & Langhorne 2004, p.457; Yamali 2009, p.3).

Montevideo Convention is formerly a regional treaty that has already become a customary

Statehood in International Law

international law. For this reason, it is regarded as a credible basis of determining and defining

statehood in modern international law. Even though there are no means of objectively

determining existence of statehood for purposes of international law the criteria for statehood

are usually understood as possession of: a government, a permanent population, a defined

territory and capacity to enter into relations with other states.

A Permanent Population

In order for an entity to be regarded as a state it is must have a permanent population.

Therefore, a place like Antarctica which does not have a permanent population cannot be

regarded as a state in the eyes of other states (Fry, Goldstein, & Langhorne 2004, p.457). Quite

opposite, the anarchic Somalia is a state since it has an important number of citizens in spite of

the fact that it has a considerable number of nomads moving from one place to another as well

as in and out of the country. In other words, permanent does not imply that has to rest a

minimum period of time at one place. Regions inhabited by nomads are recognized as having a

permanent population and therefore they are not a territory belonging to no one or terra

nullius.


 

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