Professor Patrick Dumberry investigates the complexities of recognizing governments in civil war situations

Faculty of Law - Civil Law Section
Droit international

By Civil law

Communication, Faculty of law

Patrick Dumberry and image of a globe
When a country is in the midst of a civil war, revolution or insurrection, who represents that country on the international stage? How does a country like Canada go about determining the legitimate representative of a State that has multiple regimes fighting for power?

In general, international law does not impose any particular form of government on States around the world. It is therefore up to each State to decide which entity it will recognize as the government of another State in diplomatic relations. Professor Patrick Dumberry has earned an Insight Grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) for a project entitled “The Mechanism of Recognition of Government in Situations of Civil Wars where Different Groups are claiming to be the Representative of a State”, which will investigate the contemporary role, function and consequences of the legally complex and highly-politically sensitive question of “recognition” of governments in situations where there are conflicting claims by competing authorities in the context of civil wars.

Professor Dumberry’s research will fill a void in this area of international law, as no comprehensive analysis on this topic has been undertaken in the last 20 years. Assessing the recent general trends and common features of government recognition beyond the particularities of each civil war is necessary, given that these conflicts have increasingly led to major international law litigations. For instance, the project will examine how arbitral tribunals involved in international litigations between foreign investors and States have dealt with the problem of different authorities claiming to be the representative of a State in arbitration proceedings arising in the context of civil wars and political turmoil. One example of such situation is in the context of the civil war in Venezuela where different groups claim to represent that State in arbitration proceedings. The goal of this project is to ultimately develop analytical tools that will assist policy makers and legal advisors of States (including Canada) and international organizations to make more informed choices about government recognition by taking into account the fundamental political and legal consequences arising from such decisions.

SSHRC’s Insight Grants aim to support and foster excellence in social sciences and humanities research that aims to deepen, widen and increase our collective understanding of individuals and societies, as well as to inform the search for solutions to societal challenges.

Congratulations to Professor Dumberry!