FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Military Regimes Shouldn’t be Recognized

by

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 has 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.”

Weekend Edition
February 23, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Richard D. Wolff
Capitalism as Obstacle to Equality and Democracy: the US Story
Paul Street
Where’s the Beef Stroganoff? Eight Sacrilegious Reflections on Russiagate
Jeffrey St. Clair
They Came, They Saw, They Tweeted
Andrew Levine
Their Meddlers and Ours
Charles Pierson
Nuclear Nonproliferation, American Style
Joseph Essertier
Why Japan’s Ultranationalists Hate the Olympic Truce
W. T. Whitney
US and Allies Look to Military Intervention in Venezuela
John Laforge
Maybe All Threats of Mass Destruction are “Mentally Deranged”
Matthew Stevenson
Why Vietnam Still Matters: an American Reckoning
David Rosen
For Some Reason, Being White Still Matters
Robert Fantina
Nikki Haley: the U.S. Embarrassment at the United Nations
Joyce Nelson
Why Mueller’s Indictments Are Hugely Important
Joshua Frank
Pearl Jam, Will You Help Stop Sen. Tester From Destroying Montana’s Public Lands?
Dana E. Abizaid
The Attack on Historical Perspective
Conn Hallinan
Immigration and the Italian Elections
George Ochenski
The Great Danger of Anthropocentricity
Pete Dolack
China Can’t Save Capitalism from Environmental Destruction
Joseph Natoli
Broken Lives
Manuel García, Jr.
Why Did Russia Vote For Trump?
Geoff Dutton
One Regime to Rule Them All
Torkil Lauesen – Gabriel Kuhn
Radical Theory and Academia: a Thorny Relationship
Wilfred Burchett
Vietnam Will Win: The Work of Persuasion
Thomas Klikauer
Umberto Eco and Germany’s New Fascism
George Burchett
La Folie Des Grandeurs
Howard Lisnoff
Minister of War
Eileen Appelbaum
Why Trump’s Plan Won’t Solve the Problems of America’s Crumbling Infrastructure
Ramzy Baroud
More Than a Fight over Couscous: Why the Palestinian Narrative Must Be Embraced
Jill Richardson
Mass Shootings Shouldn’t Be the Only Time We Talk About Mental Illness
Jessicah Pierre
Racism is Killing African American Mothers
Steve Horn
Wyoming Now Third State to Propose ALEC Bill Cracking Down on Pipeline Protests
David Griscom
When ‘Fake News’ is Good For Business
Barton Kunstler
Brainwashed Nation
Griffin Bird
I’m an Eagle Scout and I Don’t Want Pipelines in My Wilderness
Edward Curtin
The Coming Wars to End All Wars
Missy Comley Beattie
Message To New Activists
Jonah Raskin
Literary Hubbub in Sonoma: Novel about Mrs. Jack London Roils the Faithful
Binoy Kampmark
Frontiersman of the Internet: John Perry Barlow
Chelli Stanley
The Mirrors of Palestine
James McEnteer
How Brexit Won World War Two
Ralph Nader
Absorbing the Irresistible Consumer Reports Magazine
Cesar Chelala
A Word I Shouldn’t Use
Louis Proyect
Marx at the Movies
Osha Neumann
A White Guy Watches “The Black Panther”
Stephen Cooper
Rebel Talk with Nattali Rize: the Interview
David Yearsley
Market Music
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail