Montevideo Convention

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The Montevideo Convention on the Rights and Duties of States was a treaty signed at Montevideo, Uruguay, on December 26, 1933, during the Seventh International Conference of American States. The Convention codified the declarative theory of statehood as accepted as part of customary international law. At the conference, United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Secretary of State Cordell Hull declared the Good Neighbor Policy, which opposed U.S. armed intervention in inter-American affairs. The convention was signed by 19 states. The acceptance of three of the signatories was subject to minor reservations. Those states were Brazil, Peru and the United States.[1]

The convention became operative on December 26, 1934. It was registered in League of Nations Treaty Series on January 8, 1936.[2]



The convention sets out the definition, rights and duties of statehood. Most well-known is article 1, which sets out the four criteria for statehood that have sometimes been recognized as an accurate statement of customary international law:

Furthermore, the first sentence of article 3 explicitly states that "The political existence of the state is independent of recognition by the other states." This is known as the declarative theory of statehood.

A fundamental remark must be underlined: the condititions of article 1 are limited by article 11, which forbids the use of military force to obtain sovereignty. Article 11 reflected the contemporary Stimson Doctrine, and it is now a fundamental part of international law through article 2 paragraph 4 of the Charter of the United Nations. Article 11 allows a clear distinction between sovereign and puppet states, the latter ones being excluded from international recognition of statehood.

Some have questioned whether these criteria are sufficient, as they allow less-recognized entities like the Republic of China (Taiwan) to claim full status as states. According to the alternative constitutive theory of statehood, a state exists only insofar as it is recognized by other states. It should not be confused with the Estrada doctrine.

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