• Monthly
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $other
  • use PayPal

CounterPunch needs you. piggybank-icon You need us. The cost of keeping the site alive and running is growing fast, as more and more readers visit. We want you to stick around, but it eats up bandwidth and costs us a bundle. Help us reach our modest goal (we are half way there!) so we can keep CounterPunch going. Donate today!
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Military Regimes Shouldn’t be Recognized

The military upheaval in Turkey, whose final consequences are yet to be seen, highlights a major weakness in worldwide efforts to promote democracy. This event underscores the need to establish binding international legal principles to ban the recognition of military regimes as a result of coups d’état. Establishment of such principles, and the creation of the legal mechanisms for applying them, would foster democracy throughout the world.

The circumstances in Turkey mimic several similar situations in recent history: the coming to power of governments without support from the military. Once confronted with a threat to their political hegemony, the military either overthrow the civilian government or refuses to surrender power to democratically elected civilians.

Overt recognition by Western democracies or implied recognition through ambivalent signs of disapproval have encouraged military officers to overthrow many constitutional governments freely chosen by the people. The military relinquish power only when forced by popular will, or when its own incapacity to govern has made its position untenable.

This happened to the Greek junta after its debacle in Cyprus, to the Chilean regime under Augusto Pinochet and to the Argentine military after the Falklands conflict. New principles could be developed, however, that would automatically bar the recognition of such de facto regimes.

Given the need to expand the role of the United Nations in keeping peace, the General Assembly and its International Law Commission could be called upon to draw up appropriate legislation. As the late Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjold once said, the United Nations is “the most appropriate place for development and change of international law on behalf of the whole society of states.”

Establishment of non-recognition of post coup d’état a universal principle raises some difficult practical questions. What about already established and recognized military regimes? These cases show the difficulties of applying the principle retroactively.

But what if a country’s military forces stage a coup against an oppressive or corrupt civilian regime? An ousted civilian government that has been freely elected by the people should not be denied recognition in favor of a post-coup military regime unless the overthrown government was responsible for gross human rights violations. Further, after a coup, recognition should be withheld until another civilian government is chosen in free and democratic elections.

Who will decide whether an ousted civilian regime was oppressive? Or whether elections staged by the military are free and fair? The logical body to make these assessments is the International Court of Justice at The Hague. The composition of the court and its responsibilities under such an expanded mandate should be decided by the UN International Law Commission.

Making the World Court responsible for decisions involving recognition of governments would prevent the issue from being subjected to the political crosscurrents of the UN General Assembly.
It can be argued that non-recognition of de facto regimes will not by itself restore democracy. It is, though, a significant initial step that could be followed by stronger collective measures. It could also be argued that non-recognition implies undue interference in a state’s internal affairs. But this objection loses its validity if non-recognition is a consistent principle of international law as established by the United Nations, and all nations are bound to accept it.

Non-recognition of military regimes responds to increasing worldwide demands to eliminate the plague of military dictatorships. Once established as a legal principle, it could become a remarkable step toward world peace and justice.

More articles by:

Dr. Cesar Chelala is a co-winner of the 1979 Overseas Press Club of America award for the article “Missing or Disappeared in Argentina: The Desperate Search for Thousands of Abducted Victims.”

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

Weekend Edition
May 24, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Rob Urie
Iran, Venezuela and the Throes of Empire
Melvin Goodman
The Dangerous Demise of Disarmament
Jeffrey St. Clair
“The Army Ain’t No Place for a Black Man:” How the Wolf Got Caged
Richard Moser
War is War on Mother Earth
Andrew Levine
The (Small-d) Democrat’s Dilemma
Russell Mokhiber
The Boeing Way: Blaming Dead Pilots
Rev. William Alberts
Gaslighters of God
Phyllis Bennis
The Amputation Crisis in Gaza: a US-Funded Atrocity
David Rosen
21st Century Conglomerate Trusts 
Jonathan Latham
As a GMO Stunt, Professor Tasted a Pesticide and Gave It to Students
Binoy Kampmark
The Espionage Act and Julian Assange
Kathy Deacon
Liberals Fall Into Line: a Recurring Phenomenon
Jill Richardson
The Disparity Behind Anti-Abortion Laws
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Chelsea Manning is Showing Us What Real Resistance Looks Like
Zhivko Illeieff
Russiagate and the Dry Rot in American Journalism
Norman Solomon
Will Biden’s Dog Whistles for Racism Catch Up with Him?
Yanis Varoufakis
The Left Refuses to Get Its Act Together in the Face of Neofascism
Lawrence Davidson
Senator Schumer’s Divine Mission
Thomas Knapp
War Crimes Pardons: A Terrible Memorial Day Idea
Renee Parsons
Dump Bolton before He Starts the Next War
Yves Engler
Canada’s Meddling in Venezuela
Katie Singer
Controlling 5G: A Course in Obstacles
Evaggelos Vallianatos
The Beauty of Trees
Jesse Jackson
Extremist Laws, Like Alabama’s, Will Hit Poor Women the Hardest
Andrew Bacevich
The “Forever Wars” Enshrined
Ron Jacobs
Another One Moves On: Roz Payne, Presente!
Christopher Brauchli
The Offal Office
Daniel Falcone
Where the ‘Democratic Left’ Goes to Die: Staten Island NYC and the Forgotten Primaries   
Julia Paley
Life After Deportation
Sarah Anderson
America Needs a Long-Term Care Program for Seniors
Seiji Yamada – John Witeck
Stop U.S. Funding for Human Rights Abuses in the Philippines
Shane Doyle, A.J. Not Afraid and Adrian Bird, Jr.
The Crazy Mountains Deserve Preservation
Charlie Nash
Will Generation Z Introduce a Wizard Renaissance?
Ron Ridenour
Denmark Peace-Justice Conference Based on Activism in Many Countries
Douglas Bevington
Why California’s Costly (and Destructive) Logging Plan for Wildfires Will Fail
Gary Leupp
“Escalating Tensions” with Iran
Jonathan Power
Making the World More Equal
Cesar Chelala
The Social Burden of Depression in Japan
Stephen Cooper
Imbibe Culture and Consciousness with Cocoa Tea (The Interview)
Stacy Bannerman
End This Hidden Threat to Military Families
Kevin Basl
Time to Rethink That POW/MIA Flag
Nicky Reid
Pledging Allegiance to the Divided States of America
Louis Proyect
A Second Look at Neflix
Martin Billheimer
Closed Shave: T. O. Bobe, the Girl and Curl
David Yearsley
Hard Bop and Bezos’ Balls
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail