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Government in exile

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Government in exile

A government in exile is a political group which claims to be a country's legitimate government, but is unable to exercise legal power and instead resides in a foreign country.[1] Governments in exile usually plan to one day return to their native country and regain formal power. A government in exile differs from a rump state in the sense that a rump state controls at least part of its former territory.[2] For example, during World War I, nearly all of Belgium was occupied by Germany, but Belgium and its allies held on to a small slice in the country's west. A government in exile, conversely, has lost all its territory.

Governments in exile frequently occur during wartime occupation, or in the aftermath of a civil war, revolution, or military coup. For example, during German expansion in World War II, some European governments sought refuge in the United Kingdom, rather than face destruction at the hands of Nazi Germany. A government in exile may also form from widespread belief in the illegitimacy of a ruling government. For instance, the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces was formed as a result of the Syrian civil war, which sought to end the rule of the ruling Ba'ath Party.

The effectiveness of a government in exile depends primarily on the amount of support it can receive, either from foreign governments or from the population of its own country. Some governments in exile develop into a formidable force, posing a serious challenge to the incumbent regime of the country, while others are maintained chiefly as a symbolic gesture.

The phenomenon of a government in exile predates formal use of the term. In periods of monarchical government, exiled monarchs or dynasties sometimes set up exile courts—as the House of Stuart did when driven from their throne by Oliver Cromwell and at the Glorious Revolution, or the House of Bourbon did during the French Revolution and the rule of Napoleon. With the spread of constitutional monarchy, monarchical governments in exile started to include a prime minister, such as the Dutch government during World War II headed by Pieter Sjoerds Gerbrandy.


International law recognizes that governments in exile may undertake many types of actions in the conduct of their daily affairs. These actions include:

In cases where a host country holds a large expatriate population from a government in exile's home country, or an ethnic population from that country, the government in exile might come to exercise some administrative functions within such a population. For example, the WWII Provisional Government of Free India had such authority among the ethnically Indian population of British Malaya, with the consent of the then Japanese military authorities.

Current governments in exile

Governments in exile may have little or no recognition from other states. Some exiled governments have some characteristics in common with rump states. Such disputed or partially in exile cases are noted in the tables below.

Deposed governments of current states

These governments in exile were created by deposed governments or rulers who continue to claim legitimate authority of the state they once controlled.

Name Exile since State controlling its claimed territory (entirely or partially) Notes References
Rada of the Belarusian Democratic Republic 1920  Republic of Belarus The oldest current government (formally, a provisional parliament) in exile, currently led by Ivonka Survilla in Toronto; see also Belarusian Democratic Republic [3][4]
Qajar dynasty 1925  Islamic Republic of Iran The Qajar dynasty went into exile in 1923 and continue to claim the Iranian throne, which is currently claimed by Mohammad Hassan Mirza II who is based in Dallas, Texas
Pahlavi dynasty 1979  Islamic Republic of Iran The Pahlavi dynasty, led by Reza Pahlavi and living in Potomac, Maryland; see also Iranian Revolution
Royal Lao Government in Exile 1975  Lao People's Democratic Republic The former government of the Kingdom of Laos; based in Gresham, Oregon
Nguyễn dynasty 1945 Socialist Republic of Vietnam It ended in 1945 when Bảo Đại abdicated the throne and transferred power to the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, based in Paris. [5]

Current government claimed of being a "government-in-exile"

The  Republic of China government does not regard itself as a government-in-exile, but is claimed to be such by some participants in the debate on the political status of Taiwan.[6][7][8][9][10] In addition to the territory it currently controls (being Taiwan and some other islands), the Republic of China formally maintains claims over territory now controlled by the  Islamic Republic of Afghanistan,  Kingdom of Bhutan,  People's Republic of China,  Republic of India,  Japan,  Mongolia,  Republic of the Union of Myanmar,  Islamic Republic of Pakistan,  Russian Federation, and  Republic of Tajikistan. While the Republic of China is usually considered either a former state or a rump state (i.e. a state which has lost most of its territory),[11] an alternative argument has been advanced that it is a "government-in-exile".[6][7][8][9][10][12][13] While often used as a rhetorical device, the usual formal reasoning on which this claim is based relies on an argument that the sovereignty of Taiwan was not handed to, or was not legitimately handed to, the Republic of China at the end of World War II,[14] and on that basis the ROC is located in foreign territory, therefore effectively making it a government in exile.[15] By contrast, this theory is not accepted by those who view the sovereignty of Taiwan as having been, and been legitimately, returned to the Republic of China at the end of the war. Both the People's Republic of China government and the Republic of China government hold the latter view.[16]

Exiled governments of non-self-governing or occupied territories

These governments in exile are governments of non-self-governing or occupied territories. They claim legitimate authority over a territory they once controlled, or claim legitimacy of a post-decolonization authority. The claim may stem from an exiled group's election as a legitimate government.

The United Nations recognizes the right of self-determination for the population of these territories, including the possibility of establishing independent sovereign states.

From the Palestinian National Authority interim territorial administration as result of the Oslo Accords signed by the PLO, Israel, the United States, and Russia. Between 1994 to 2013, the PNA functioned as an autonomy, thus while the government was seated in the West Bank it was not sovereign. In 2013, Palestine was upgraded to a non-member state status in the UN.

Deposed governments of subnational territories

These governments in exile claim legitimacy of autonomous territories of another state and have been created by deposed governments or rulers, who do not claim independence as a separate state.

Name Exile Current control of claimed territory Notes References
since as by as
Government of the Autonomous Republic of Abkhazia 1993 autonomous republic Republic of Abkhazia independent state Vakhtang Kolbaia, whose territory is under the control of Abkhaz separatists
Azerbaijani Community of Nagorno-Karabakh 1994 autonomous republic Nagorno-Karabakh Republic independent state Azerbaijan provisional government, led by Bayram Safarov, whose territory is under the control of Armenian separatists
Provisional Administrative Entity of South Ossetia 2008 provisional administrative entity Republic of South Ossetia independent state Georgian provincial administration, led by Dmitry Sanakoyev, whose territory is under the control of South Ossetian separatists
Autonomous Republic of Crimea 2014 autonomous republic Russian Federation
 Republic of Crimea
federal subject (republic) Ukrainian autonomous republic, whose territory was seized by Russia and incorporated into the Russian Federation (see Crimean Crisis of 2014)

Alternative governments of current states

These governments have been created in exile by opposition parties, aspire to become actual governing authorities or claim to be legal successors to previously deposed governments, and have been created as alternatives to incumbent governments.

Name Claimed exile Exile proclamation Government presently controlling claimed territory Notes References
Crown Council of Ethiopia 1974 1993  Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia Led by Prince Ermias Sahle Selassie and based in the Washington D.C. Metropolitan Area
Federal Republic of Vietnam 1975 1995  Socialist Republic of Vietnam Based in Garden Grove, California and Missouri City, Texas United States; since 1995, has claimed to be a continuation of the South Vietnamese government [17]
Iran National Council  Islamic Republic of Iran Political umbrella coalition of Thirty-six Iranian opposition political organizations, led by Prince Reza Pahlavi; based in Maryland, United States
National Council of Resistance of Iran 1981  Islamic Republic of Iran Political umbrella coalition of five Iranian opposition political organizations, the largest organization being the People's Mujahedin of Iran led by Maryam and Massoud Rajavi; based in Paris [18]
Quetta Shura 2001  Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Based in Quetta, Pakistan as a continuation of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan
Progress Party of Equatorial Guinea 2003  Republic of Equatorial Guinea Proclaimed Severo Moto President of Equatorial Guinea in Madrid [19]
National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces / Syrian Interim Government 2012  Syrian Arab Republic Opposes the regime of President Bashir al-Assad; based in Istanbul; has ties to the Free Syrian Army. [20]

Alternative separatist governments of current subnational territories

These governments have been created in exile by political organisations, opposition parties, and separatist movements, and desire to become the governing authorities of their territories as independent states, or claim to be the successor to previously deposed governments, and have been created as alternatives to incumbent governments.

Name Claimed exile Exile proclamation Government presently controlling claimed territory Notes References
Government in Exile of the Free City of Danzig 1939 1947  Republic of Poland Based in Australia [21]

[22] [23] [24]

Republic of South Maluku 1950 1950  Republic of Indonesia Exiled in the Netherlands
West Papuan Government in Exile 1963 1969  Republic of Indonesia Campaigns for an independent West Papua; based in the Netherlands [25][26]
 Biafran Government in Exile 1970 2007  Federal Republic of Nigeria An arm of the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra, seeking to reestablish the Republic of Biafra; based in Washington, DC [27]
Republic of Cabinda 1975 1975  Republic of Angola Based in Pointe-Noire, Republic of Congo
 Chechen Republic of Ichkeria 2000 2000  Russian Federation Some members are fighting as rebels against the Russian Armed Forces; based in Western Europe and the United States, with its leaders in London.
There is a contested claim that it has been succeeded by the Caucasus Emirate.
Republic of Serbian Krajina 1996 2005  Republic of Croatia Reconstituted in 2005 in Belgrade, by the remains of the government of the Republic of Serbian Krajina, after Croatian forces pushed out the internationally unrecognized entity in 1995 during Operation Storm at the end of the Croatian War of Independence
Koma Civakên Kurdistan 1998  Republic of Turkey Aims to create a Kurdish state in Turkey; successor organization of Kurdish parliament in exile [29]
Republic of Ambazonia 1999  Republic of Cameroon Former British territory of Southern Cameroons; declared independence on December 31, 1999 [30]
Western Kurdistan Government in Exile 2004  Syrian Arab Republic Aims to create a Kurdish state in Syria; based in London [31]
Coptic Government In Exile 1992  Arab Republic of Egypt Aims to establish an independent state for the Coptic ethnic group [32]
Interim Government of Federated Shan States 2005  Republic of the Union of Myanmar Aims to establish an independent state for the Shan ethnic group [33]
Republic of Balochistan 2006  Pakistan,  Iran Balochistan comprises areas in Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan. On April 18, 2006, it was declared the Government of Balochistan in Exile, nominated His Highness Mir Suleman Dawood Khan as a King.
Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam 2009 2010  Sri Lanka Aims to establish an independent state of Tamil Eelam [34]

Exiled Governments with ambiguous status

These governments have ties to the area(s) they represent, but their claimed status and/or stated aims are sufficiently ambiguous that they could fit into other categories.

Name Exile Current control of claimed territory Notes References
Central Tibetan Administration 1959  People's Republic of China Founded by the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala, India with cooperation of Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru; see also Tibetan sovereignty debate and Tibetan independence movement,[35]
East Turkistan Government in Exile 1949  People's Republic of China Seeking independence for Xinjiang as "East Turkestan"; based in Washington, DC [36]
Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan 2001 Islamic Republic of Afghanistan The Taliban gained control over most of Afghanistan in the Afghan civil war, but were removed from power in the current Afghan war. ,[37][38][39]

Past governments in exile

Name Exiled or created(*) since Defunct, reestablished,(*) or integrated(°) since State that controlled its claimed territory Notes References
Privy Council of England 1649 1660° Commonwealth of England (1649—1653)
Commonwealth of England, Scotland and Ireland (1653—1659)
Commonwealth of England (1659—1660)
Based for most of the Interregnum in the Spanish Netherlands and headed by Charles II; actively supported Charles' claim to the thrones of England, Scotland and Ireland
Provisional Government of the People's Republic of Bangladesh 1971* 1972°  Pakistan Based in Calcutta; led by Tajuddin Ahmad, the first Prime Minister of Bangladesh, during the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971.
Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea 1919* 1948°  Empire of Japan Based in Shanghai, and later in Chongqing; after Japan’s defeat in World War II, President Syngman Rhee became the first president of the First Republic of South Korea
Czechoslovak government-in-exile 1939 1945°  Czechoslovakia Based in Paris and later in London, during the German occupation of Czechoslovakia. After the defeat of Germany, it took control of Czechoslovakia.
Azad Hind 1943 1945*  British Raj Based in Rangoon and later in Port Blair. Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose was the leader of the government and the Head of State of this Provisional Indian Government in Exile. This government was disestablished in 1945 following the defeat of the Axis powers in World War II
All-Palestine Government 1948 1959  Egypt The All-Palestine government was proclaimed in Gaza in September 1948, but was shortly relocated to Cairo in fear of Israeli offensive. Despite Egyptian ability to keep control of the Gaza Strip, the All-Palestine Government was forced to remain in exile in Cairo, gradually stripping it of its authority, until in 1959 it was dissolved by President Nasser's decree.
Provisional Government of the Algerian Republic 1958* 1962* French Algeria (France) Established during the latter part of the Algerian War of Independence; after the war, a compromise agreement with the Armée de Libération Nationale dissolved it but allowed most of its members to enter the post-independence government
Revolutionary Government of Angola in Exile 1962* 1992° Republic of Angola Based in Kinshasa; its military branch, the National Liberation Front of Angola, was recognized as a political party in 1992 and holds three seats in Angola’s parliament
Namibian Government in Exile 1966* 1989°  South Africa Formed after opposition to the apartheid South African administration over South-West Africa, which had been ruled as illegal by the United Nations; in 1990, Namibia achieved independence. [40]
Coalition Government of Democratic Kampuchea 1982* 1993° People's Republic of Kampuchea Established with UN recognition in opposition to the Vietnamese-backed government. Elections in 1993 brought the reintegration of the exiled government into the newly reconstituted Kingdom of Cambodia.
Polish government-in-exile 1939* 1990° Occupied Poland
People's Republic of Poland
Based in Paris, Angers, and London, it opposed German occupied Poland and the Soviet satellite state, the People's Republic of Poland; disbanded following the fall of communism in Poland
Estonian government-in-exile 1953* 1992 Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic Established in Sweden by several members of Otto Tief's government; did not achieve any international recognizion. In fact, it was not recognized even by Estonian diplomatic legations that were seen by western countries as legal representatives of the annexed state.

A rival government was created by another group of Estonian exiles in the same year in Munich but it was short lived.

Spanish Republican government in exile 1939 1977  Spanish State Created after Francisco Franco's coup d'état; first based in Paris, France from 1939 until 1940 when France fell to the Nazis. The exiled government was then moved to Mexico City and stayed there from 1940 to 1946, when it was moved back to Paris, where it lasted until Franco's death and Democracy is Spain was restored.
Government of the Democratic Republic of Georgia in Exile 1921 1954 Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic Formed after the Leuville-sur-Orge, France
Dubrovnik Republic (1991) 1991 1992  Republic of Croatia Formed in Cavtat with the help of the Yugoslav People's Army after Croatia declared independence from Yugoslavia. Claimed to be the historic successor of the Republic of Ragusa (1358-1808). [42]
Ukrainian People's Republic 1920 1992 Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic
Second Polish Republic
Czechoslovak Republic
 Kingdom of Romania
Organized after the Soviet occupation of Ukraine
Aceh 1976* 2005 Republic of Indonesia Headquartered in Sweden; surrendered its separatist intentions and dissolved its armed wing following the 2005 peace agreement with the Indonesian government
Bongo Doit Partir 1998 2009  Gabon Founded by Daniel Mengara in opposition to president Omar Bongo; after Bongo's death in June 2009, Mengara returned to Gabon in order to participate in the country's elections [43][44]
Confederate government of Missouri 1861 1865  United States of America (Union) Missouri had both Union and Confederate governments, but the Confederate government was exiled, eventually governing out of Marshall, Texas. [45]
Confederate government of Kentucky 1861 1865  United States of America (Union) Kentucky had both Union and Confederate governments. The Confederate government was soon forced out of the state, and was an exiled government traveling with the Confederate Army of Tennessee, except for during a short return when the Confederate army briefly occupied Frankfort.
Kingdom of Hawaii 1893 1895 Republic of Hawaii Formed by members of the deposed government of Queen Liliuokalani of Hawaii; a failed insurgency in 1895 forced the queen to formally disband the kingdom
De Broqueville government in exile 1914 1918 German Empire Formed in 1915 by the Government of Belgium following the German invasion during World War I. It was disbanded following the restoration of Belgian sovereignty with the Armistice with Germany.
National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma 1990 2012  Republic of the Union of Myanmar Led by Sein Win and composed of members of parliament elected in 1990 but not allowed by the military to take office; based in Rockville, Montgomery County, Maryland, U.S. [46][47]
Commonwealth of the Philippines in exile 1942 1944°  Empire of Japan(1943)
 Second Philippine Republic(1943—1945)
After Japanese forces took control over the Philippine islands, the Philippine commonwealth government in exile led by Manuel Quezon in Melbourne, Australia and was administered from Washington D.C., United States from May 1942 to October 1944.
Emergency Government of the Republic of Indonesia 1948* 1949° Dutch East Indies Based in Bukittinggi; led by Sjafruddin Prawiranegara, founded after Operatie Kraai in December 1948.

Sovereign Military Order of Malta

The Sovereign Military Order of Malta may be considered a case of a government in exile, since it is without territory but recognised as a sovereign government by numerous sovereign countries. However, it does not claim to be a sovereign state, rather a "sovereign subject" of international law. In addition, it no longer claims jurisdiction over Malta, and recognises and maintains diplomatic relations with the independent Republic of Malta.

World War II

Many countries established a government in exile after loss of sovereignty in connection with World War II. The Philippine Commonwealth (invaded 9 December 1941) established a government in exile.

The Provisional Government of Free India (1943–45) was established by Indian nationalists in exile during the war; unlike most other governments in exile in this war, it was affiliated to the Axis and claimed power over an Allied (specifically, British) territory. A Bulgarian government in exile was also allied with the Axis.

Governments in London

Other exiled leaders in Britain in this time included King Zog of Albania and Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia.

The Danish exception

The Occupation of Denmark (9 April 1940) was administered mainly by the German Foreign Office, contrary to other occupied lands that were under military or civilian administration. Denmark did not establish a government in exile, although there was an Association of Free Danes established in London.[48] King Christian X and his government remained in Denmark, and functioned comparatively independently until August 1943 when it was dissolved, placing Denmark under full German occupation. Meanwhile, Iceland, Greenland and the Faroe Islands were occupied by the Allies, and effectively separated from the Danish crown. (See British occupation of the Faroe Islands, Iceland during World War II, and History of Greenland during World War II.)

Persian Gulf War

Following the Ba'athist Iraqi invasion and occupation of Kuwait, during the Persian Gulf War, on August 2, 1990, Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah and senior members of his government fled to Saudi Arabia, where they set up a government-in-exile in Dhahran. The Kuwaiti government in exile was far more affluent than most other such governments, having full disposal of the very considerable Kuwaiti assets in western banks—of which it made use to conduct a massive propaganda campaign denouncing the Ba'athist Iraqi occupation and mobilizing public opinion in the western hemisphere in favor of war with Ba'athist Iraq. In March 1991, following the defeat of Ba'athist Iraq at the hands of coalition forces in the Persian Gulf War, the Sheikh and his government were able to return to Kuwait.

Municipal Councils in Exile

Following the Turkish Invasion of Cyprus in 1974 and the displacement of many Greek Cypriotes from North Cyprus, displaced inhabitants of several towns set up what are in effect Municipal Councils in Exile, headed by Mayors in Exile. The idea is the same as with a national Government in Exile - to assert a continuation of legitimate rule, even though having no control of the ground, and working towards restoration of such control. Meetings of the exiled Municipal Council of Lapithos took place in the homes of its members until the Exile Municipality was offered temporary offices at 37 Ammochostou Street, Nicosia. The current Exile Mayor of the town is Athos Eleftheriou. The same premises are shared with the Exile Municipal Council of Kythrea.

See also



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  9. ^ a b John J. Tkacik, Jr. (19 June 2008). "Taiwan's "Unsettled" International Status: Preserving U.S. Options in the Pacific". Heritage Foundation. Retrieved 20 December 2009. Chiang Kai-shek wanted to fight it out on an all-or-nothing basis. There are also reports that Chiang's advisors convinced him that if the ROC mission stayed to represent Taiwan, Chiang would be under pressure to demonstrate in some constitutional way that his Chinese government-in-exile represented the people of Taiwan rather than the vast population of China. Doing so would require Chiang to dismantle his existing regime (which was elected in 1947 on the Chinese mainland and continued to rule in Taiwan under emergency martial law provisions without benefit of elections), adopt an entirely new constitu­tion, and install an entirely new government. 
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    p118. "President Harry S. Truman of the United States stated on January 5, 1950 that 'Taiwan was surrendered to ... Chiang Kai-Shek, and for the past four years, the United States and the other Allied Powers have accepted the exercise of the Chinese authority over the island.'"
    p118.-119. "The Republic of China is, by any standard, a political entity, recognized by 29 countries as of today. It has a defined territory, with Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu together with its population of 21 million, under its effective control ever since 1945 or earlier. ...
    The Republic of China indeed is a sovereign state as defined by the Montevideo Convention on the Rights and Duties of States of 1933. It also complies with the definition as 'state' defined by current theory of international law, as discussed in the Restatement (Third) of the Foreign Relations Law of the United States of 1987."
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  15. ^ Robert I. Starr (July 13, 1971), Starr Memorandum of the Dept. of State, retrieved 2012-05-18, Following World War II, the Republic of China, under the Kuomintang (KMT) became the governing polity on Taiwan. In 1949, after losing control of mainland China following the Chinese civil war, the ROC government under the KMT withdrew to occupied Taiwan and Chiang Kai-shek declared martial law. Japan formally renounced all territorial rights to Taiwan in 1952 in the San Francisco Peace Treaty, but neither in that treaty nor in the peace treaty signed between Japan and China was the territorial sovereignty of Taiwan awarded to the Republic of China. 
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