What is ultimatum?

The etymology of ultimatum leads us to ultimātum, a Late Latin word which in turn derives from ultimāre (translatable as “to come to an end”). The concept is used in the field of diplomacy to refer to the written statement that conveys a clear and conclusive resolution.

In addition to the diplomatic structure, an ultimatum is a final opinion. It is a sentence that does not admit a negative answer to what it commands or instructs. By means of an ultimatum, a deadline is established for the fulfillment of certain obligations. If the other party does not comply with the established requirements, it must comply with the consequences announced by the ultimatum.

Typically, the ultimatum works as the last demand after multiple orders. The period granted is limited and the doors are closed for future negotiations. Whoever receives the ultimatum is only able to comply with it if he wants to avoid the effects of the warning. A government, to mention one case, may issue an ultimatum to another country before a declaration of war, forcing it to perform (or fail to perform) certain work to prevent a military offensive. The ultimatum may order the interruption of a weapons program: otherwise, a military strike will be launched. The employee can issue an ultimatum to the boss, warning him that if he does not receive his salary within the next twenty-four hours, he will file a lawsuit. A kidnapper, in turn, threatens his hostage’s relatives by telling them he will kill the prisoner unless they pay a certain amount, which acts as an ultimatum.

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