Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Démarche Definition:

A word coined by the diplomatic community and referring to a strongly worded warning by one country to another and often, either explicitly or implicitly, with the threat of military consequence.

James Fox, in his 2003 dictionary, defined demarche (omitting the accent) as follows:

"Diplomatic act such as a note from a head of state addressed to a foreign state designed to protect the interests of the acting state."

Démarches are often precursors to hostilities or war or escalating diplomatic initiatives.

  • In July of 1914, days before World War I began, Austria and Russia exchanged demarches.
  • In September, 1996, US President Clinton issued a démarche to Iraqi President Saddam Hussein when intelligence reports showed troops massing along the border of Kurd communities.
  • On August 30, 1999,  Pakistan issued a demarche to the Government of India demanding that the Government of India pay compensation for the loss of a Pakistani aircraft and the lives of the sixteen personnel on board when one of its military planes was shot down.
  • On May 6, 2002, the United States advised many nations that it was not abiding by the International Criminal Court treaty by demarche (May 6, 2002).


  • Fox, James, Dictionary of International and Comparative Law, 3rd Ed. (New York: Oceana Publications Inc., 2003), page 83

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