Stimson Doctrine is the policy of nonrecognition of states created
as a result of aggression. The policy was implemented by the United
States federal government, enunciated in a note of January 7, 1932, to
Empire of Japan
Empire of Japan and the Republic of China, of non-recognition of
international territorial changes that were executed by force. The
doctrine was an application of the principle of ex injuria jus non
oritur. While some analysts have applied the doctrine in opposition
to governments established by revolution, this usage is not
widespread, and its invocation usually involves treaty violations.
Named after Henry L. Stimson,
United States Secretary of State
United States Secretary of State in the
Hoover Administration (1929–33), the policy followed Japan's
unilateral seizure of
Manchuria in northeastern China following action
by Japanese soldiers at Mukden (now Shenyang), on September 18,
1931. The doctrine was also invoked by U.S. Under-Secretary of
Sumner Welles in a declaration of July 23, 1940, that announced
non-recognition of the Soviet annexation and incorporation of the
three Baltic states—Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania—and remained
the official U.S. position until the
Baltic states regained
independence in 1991.
It was not the first time that the U.S. had used non-recognition as a
political tool or symbolic statement. President
Woodrow Wilson had
refused to recognize the Mexican Revolutionary governments in 1913 and
Japan's 21 Demands upon China in 1915.
The Japanese invasion of
Manchuria in late 1931 placed U.S. Secretary
Henry L. Stimson
Henry L. Stimson in a difficult position. It was evident that
appeals to the spirit of the
Kellogg–Briand Pact had no impact on
either the Chinese or the Japanese, and the secretary was further
hampered by President Herbert Hoover's clear indication that he would
not support economic sanctions as a means to bring peace in the Far
On January 7, 1932, Secretary Stimson sent similar notes to China and
Japan that incorporated a diplomatic approach used by earlier
secretaries facing crises in the Far East. Later known as the Stimson
Doctrine, or sometimes the Hoover-Stimson Doctrine, the notes read in
part as follows:
...the American Government deems it to be its duty to notify both the
Imperial Japanese Government and the Government of the Chinese
Republic that it cannot admit the legality of any situation de facto
nor does it intend to recognize any treaty or agreement entered into
between those Governments, or agents thereof, which may impair the
treaty rights of the
United States or its citizens in China, including
those that relate to the sovereignty, the independence, or the
territorial and administrative integrity of the Republic of China, or
to the international policy relative to China, commonly known as the
open door policy...
Stimson had stated that the
United States would not recognize any
changes made in China that would curtail American treaty rights in the
area and that the "open door" must be maintained. The declaration had
few material effects on the Western world, which was burdened by the
Great Depression, and Japan went on to bomb Shanghai.
The doctrine was criticized on the grounds that it did no more than
alienate the Japanese.
^ States in international law, by Encyclopædia Britannica.
^ a b Bin Cheng, Georg (FRW) Schwarzenberger (2006). General
principles of law as applied by international courts and tribunals.
Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-03000-5.
^ "Stimson Doctrine, 1932".
United States Department of State.
^ John Hiden; Vahur Made; David J. Smith (2008). The Baltic question
during the Cold War. Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-37100-1.
^ a b George C. Herring (2008). From Colony to Superpower: U.S.
Foreign Relations Since 1776. Oxford University Press US.
^ Reginald G. Bassett (1968). Democracy and Foreign Policy. Routledge.
^ Marc S. Gallicchio (1988). The Cold War Begins in Asia. Columbia
University Press. ISBN 978-0-231-06502-3.
Clauss, Errol MacGregor. "The Roosevelt Administration and Manchukuo,
1933–1941," Historian (Aug. 1970) Volume 32, Issue 4, pages
Current, Richard N. "The
Stimson Doctrine and the Hoover Doctrine,"
American Historical Review Vol. 59, No. 3 (Apr., 1954),
pp. 513–542 in JSTOR
Findling, J. E. (1980). Dictionary of American Diplomatic History,
Westport: Greenwood Press, pp. 457–458.
Meiertöns, Heiko (2010): The Doctrines of US Security Policy - An
Evaluation under International Law, Cambridge University Press,
Wright, Quincy. "The Legal Foundation of the Stimson Doctrine,"
Pacific Affairs Vol. 8, No. 4 (Dec., 1935), pp. 439–446 in
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