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August 23rd, 2021  •  Author:   Special Advisory Council for Myanmar  •  2 minute read
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More than six months after the Myanmar military launched its coup d’etat on 1 February, neither the military junta nor the National Unity Government (NUG) established by elected parliamentarians on 16 April have been widely recognised internationally as the government.

The decision to recognise a new government can be made bilaterally by other States, but as a general rule most States avoid doing this.

One reason is so that in situations like Myanmar after the 2021 coup, a State can seek to maintain a diplomatic presence in the country, while trying to avoid legitimising an entity that has taken power unlawfully.

Despite the usual practice of States not recognising governments, sometimes their actions can suggest recognition, for example decisions on who attends a meeting or who is allowed to access money held abroad.

When the recognition of a new government is considered, three tests are usually applied: the entity’s effective control of the territory; its democratic legitimacy; and its adherence to international law.

This briefing paper gives an overview of the implications of recognition and outlines what the tests for recognition broadly entail. It then considers which entity in Myanmar best meets the criteria of being its government.

Download briefing paper: SAC-M Briefing Paper Recognition of Governments ENGLISH

The paper concludes that ultimately, the political assessments of individual States will determine which entity, if any, they might choose to recognise as Myanmar’s government. However, SAC-M’s assessment of the three tests above finds that the NUG meets the criteria for international recognition as the government of Myanmar.

Download briefing paper: SAC-M Briefing Paper ecognition of Governments ENGLISH