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Reaffirming the Stimson Doctrine of Non-Recognition

  • Hon. Alcee L. Hastings
    US












House of Representative

110th Congress, Second Session

Madam Speaker, I rise today to introduce a joint resolution regarding the Stimson Doctrine of Non-Recognition, which was a policy adopted in the 1930s, stating that the United States government will not recognize territorial changes brought about by force alone. The Stimson Doctrine became the foundation for sections of the U.N. Charter dealing with the inviolability of recognized borders and territorial integrity.

This principled policy was perhaps, most famously, applied to the three Baltic republics that were forcibly incorporated into the Soviet Union in 1940. Throughout the Cold War the United States never recognized this violent and illegitimate incorporation.

Following the collapse of the Soviet empire, many had hoped that a non-recognition policy would become a dated relic of a bygone era. Sadly, recent events have exposed the naiveté of this view and I strongly believe that the Stimson Doctrine should be reaffirmed and reapplied and continue to be a fundamental principle of our foreign policy.

As noted Russian scholar Paul Goble recently wrote in an article entitled, ‘‘It’s Time for a new Non-Recognition Policy’’ and I quote,

“That does not mean that we must counter any such action militarily or refuse to have anything to do with the aggressor—until 1991, after all, we had an embassy in the capital of the Soviet Union even though we did not recognize the USSR’s right to control the Baltic countries—but it does mean that we must never recognize such actions as somehow legitimate, a step that would open the floodgates of aggression not only in Eurasia but around the world.

“Sometimes we cannot do more, but as the great Russian memoirist Nadezhda Mandelstam reminded us, we can never afford to do less.”

Madam Speaker, I urge all of my colleagues to join me in supporting the bedrock principle of respect for territorial integrity and sovereignty and support this measure.

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