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Britain and the Recognition of Bangladesh in 1972

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This analysis reviews the discussion behind Britain's recognition of Bangladesh as an independent state in February 1972. It concentrates on correspondence in the preceding six weeks between Whitehall and its diplomatic postings, particularly in the Commonwealth, and considers in detail the role of the Commonwealth Secretariat. Perceptions of recognition are first briefly discussed, followed by Bangladesh's historical background and the international security issues surrounding it. Government and Commonwealth Secretariat files are studied in detail. They show above all the influence on Government decision-making of diplomatic intelligence, in particular the importance of economic and political factors. Also revealed are London's concern for Pakistan's president, Zulfiquar Bhutto, its desire not to recognize alone and the attitude of the Commonwealth's Secretary General. The study suggests that recognition is a far more complex matter than the legal definition would imply and presents a compelling case for its further analysis in an historical context.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 2008

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