Exclusive mandate

Exclusive mandate

An exclusive mandate is a government's assertion of its legitimate authority over a certain territory, part of which another government controls with stable, de facto sovereignty. It is also known as a claim to sole representation or an exclusive authority claim.


Germany from 1949 to 1990

Federal Republic of Germany

For nearly all of its existence, the Federal Republic of Germany insisted on an exclusive mandate for all of Germany, claiming to be the sole legitimate successor to the German Reich that existed from 1871 to 1945. This claim was initially based solely on the government's mandate by virtue of free elections. In a statement made before the German Bundestag, German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer asserted this mandate as early as October 21, 1949, in response to the constitution of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) coming into effect. The Secretary of State Summit of the three western powers on September 18, 1950 in New York, supported Chancellor Adenauer's claim.

When the Soviet Union proclaimed the sovereignty of the GDR, the German Bundestag once again unanimously insisted upon its exclusive mandate to govern the entire German people. At the Treaties of Paris (Pariser Verträge), at which the Federal Republic of Germany was admitted into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the allied nations adopted the position which the three western allies had already confirmed at the Nine-Power Conference in London: that the Federal Republic had the exclusive right to act on behalf of the entire German people in matters of foreign policy. The western nations thereby accepted the exclusive mandate of the Federal Republic of Germany.

Judicially, the claim was based on the view that the German state as a whole had been preserved, and that hence no two German states could exist. The German Democratic Republic was therefore merely German territory occupied by a Soviet puppet regime, thus lacking autonomy. According to an alternate view, the GDR was in a state of civil war with the "actual" German government, based in Bonn, and therefore could not be recognized as a state under international law. A third, the so-called "umbrella state" theory, entails the existence of two fragment states under the umbrella of a single German nation that had been formed in 1871 and which had never actually been annihilated; this theory arose in the late 1960s and was confirmed in a ruling of the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany of 31 July 1973 regarding the "Basic Treaty" outlining principal neighborly relations between East and West Germany.

Aside from such considerations pertaining to international law, the reunification clause of the Basic Law suggested that international recognition of the German Democratic Republic was to be avoided, so as not to sever the constitutional mandate to a unified German state.

The exclusive mandate was reaffirmed in the Hallstein Doctrine, according to which the Federal Republic broke diplomatic relations with states that maintained diplomatic relations with the GDR, except for the Soviet Union.

Until 1973, asserting an exclusive mandate was a strictly observed policy, and the Federal Republic regarded the Democratic Republic as an unlawfully constituted state. Over time, especially after the administration's transition to a social-liberal coalition led by Willy Brandt in 1969, the exclusive mandate was softened, as it severely limited the Federal Republic's domestic and international autonomy. Starting in 1973, the Federal Republic took the line that the Democratic Republic was a de facto government within a single German nation, of which the Federal Republic was de jure the sole representative.

With the admission of both German states to the United Nations in 1973, matters regarding the exclusive mandate were no longer relevant. Regardless, the Federal Republic of Germany did not recognize unique citizenship of the German Democratic Republic until the GDR ceased to exist in 1990, and generally considered East Germans to be German citizens under the old all-German citizenship (i.e. Bundesbürger, citizens of West Germany); refugees were therefore not deported.

In addition, visitors from the GDR would receive a West German passport upon request, for example, in order to ease travel to the United States. After the fall of the Berlin wall in November 1989, East Germans were greeted with Begrüßungsgeld (100 West German Deutsche Mark) and could travel freely within West Germany, while West German access to the East was still hindered for some weeks by visa and the Mindestumtausch mandatory minimum exchange of 25 DM.

German Democratic Republic (1949–90)

The constitution of the German Democratic Republic also acknowledged that Germany is an indivisible Republic, and thus only one German citizenship. The GDR, therefore, was also founded on the premise of being the de jure sovereign representative of all Germany. It regarded the West German regime as a NATO puppet state. In 1974, however, the reunification clause was stricken from the GDR's constitution. Thereafter, it regarded itself as a separate state from West Germany. The GDR needed to erect the Berlin Wall in 1961 partly to prevent Germans moving freely within Germany. The socialist state ceased to exist within a year after the fall of the wall in 1989 when its states joined the Federal Republic in the German reunification of 1990.


Articles 2 and 3 of the Constitution of Ireland as originally enacted in 1937 contained a territorial claim over the six counties of Northern Ireland, which lay under de facto British sovereignty (as they still do today). In particular, Article 2 stated that "[t]he national territory consists of the whole island of Ireland". This was regarded by unionists in Northern Ireland as an illegal extraterritorial claim, and encountered some hostility. Articles 2 and 3 were amended in 1999 as part of the Northern Ireland peace process to remove the explicit territorial claim: they now provide merely that "[i]t is the entitlement and birthright of every person born in the island of Ireland... to be part of the Irish Nation". The Ulster Unionist Party has accepted the revision of the articles, but the larger Democratic Unionist Party has not.

Mainland China and Taiwan

Since the end of the Chinese civil war in 1949, the Republic of China was limited to Taiwan (taken from Japan in 1945, ceded by Qing China in 1895) and a few islands near Fujian, while the People's Republic of China controlled mainland China, and since 1950 also the Island of Hainan. Both Chinese governments claimed sovereignty over all of China. Until 1971, the Republic of China was a permanent member of the UN Security Council with veto power. Since then, however, it was excluded in favor of the People's Republic of China, and since 1972, it was also excluded from all UN-subcommittees. Since the death of Chiang Kai-shek in 1975, Republic of China no longer aggressively asserts its exclusive mandate and most of the world's nations have since broken their official diplomatic ties with Republic of China (except for 23 nations as of 2008). Nevertheless, most nations, as well as the People's Republic government, continue to maintain unofficial relations.

Since the 1990s, the stance of the Republic of China has softened. When the ROC established ties with Kiribati in 2003, it did not demand that Kiribati break its existing ties with the PRC. However, the PRC's stance has not softened and it does not maintain diplomatic relations with the 23 countries that recognize the ROC.


In 1948 North Korea and South Korea began to stake claims to sovereignty over all of Korea. Both states claimed that the other was an unlawfully constituted puppet state of the Soviet Union and the United States, respectively. In 1991, however, both nations joined the UN, as part of their reconciliation policy.


The Democratic Republic of Vietnam was proclaimed in 1945; the Republic of Vietnam gained its independence from France in 1954. North and South Vietnam both staked claims to all of Vietnam until South Vietnam unconditionally surrendered to North Vietnam in 1975.

When some European countries (such as Switzerland) started recognizing North Vietnam towards the end of the Vietnam war, South Vietnam did not interrupt its diplomatic relations with them. Switzerland thus recognized North Vietnam in 1971 but also turned its consulate in Saigon (South Vietnam) into an embassy until the end of the war in 1975.

See also

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