“The New U.S. Recognition Policy – What the Golan and Western Sahara Mean for the Law”
In the past couple of years, the United States took two major actions to recognize a state’s de jure sovereignty over contested territory. In March 2019, the United States recognized Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, which it had seized from Syria in 1967 and annexed in 1981. Then in Dec. 2020, the U.S. recognized Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara, which was first occupied in 1975. These recognitions involved somewhat different legal and factual circumstances, but all of them resolved longstanding disputes in favor of a longstanding de facto governing power.
While adopted under the Trump Administration, these recognitions remain unchanged one year into the Biden Administration and appear unlikely to be repudiated in the near future. They now constitute part of the official policy of the United States. The aim of this symposium is to explore what this means, firstly for U.S. foreign affairs law. Does this demonstrate the importance of de facto and realist concerns over formal ones in U.S. sovereignty determinations?
The second topic will be the implications for international law. Recognition is a political act with international legal consequences. In the current context, some would argue that a general duty of non-recognition exists. However, the state practice of the U.S. may cast a particularly large shadow, and several recognitions in a few years is a great deal of state practice. Any discussion of duties of non-recognition must take these developments into account.
This Symposium – conducted by Zoom – will is organized jointly by the George Mason University International Law Journal and the new Center for the Middle East and International Law, directed by Prof. Eugene Kontorovich. Panelists' papers will be published in a special issue of the Journal. One or more papers will be selected from the Call of Papers. We are seeking proposals for papers, especially but not exclusively from young scholars, graduate students, etc. The methodological approach of the symposium will be primarily positivist – understanding the legal effect of new state practice.
Topics might include:
- What model or legal basis for recognition of territorial sovereignty do the new U.S. recognitions suggest?
- What must be true about U.S. understandings of the permanence of territorial sovereignty in the face of prolonged de fact control?
- What understanding of the bindingness of U.N. resolutions does the U.S. recognitions imply?
- What does this state practice say about the robustness of the soft law non- recognition norm?
- What implications does this have for the U.S. approach to other disputed territorial situations, such as Crimea, various post-Soviet “frozen conflicts,” the West Bank, Puntland & Somaliland, etc.?
Please send abstracts/proposals of 500 words and a C.V. to Sally Alghazali, Editor-in-Chief of the Journal, at firstname.lastname@example.org by Oct. 8thth, 2021. Accepted proposals will be notified promptly.