State Succession- By Amit Verma
- Amit Verma (Himcapes College of Law)
1. Introduction: The 1978 Vienna Convention on Succession of States in Respect of Treaties (hereafter, the 1978 Vienna Convention) defines state succession as “the replacement of one state by another in the responsibility for the international relations of territory” (article 2 (1)(b)). The phenomenon is protean: decolonization, unification, and separation are the possible occurrences of state succession. Decolonization is the accession to independence of a nonmetropolitan territory. Unification of states is the merger of two or more states into a new entity. The predecessor states usually disappear; if not, one of them continues to exist and the case is referred to as absorption. Separation is the creation of the successor state(s) while the predecessor state continues to exist.
2. Kinds of State Succession:
a) Universal Succession: If the legal identity of a community is completely destroyed there is said to be universal succession of states. Universal succession takes place when a state is totally absorbed by another, either through defeat or through unpaid merger. Universal succession takes place under the following circumstances namely: When the territory of a state is forcibly annexed by other state. When a state voluntary merges into one or several states.When one state is divided into several states and several states are formed.
b) Partial Succession:When as a result of civil war or war of liberation, a part of state breaks off and takes up an independent position. When a part of the condition revolts and after achieving freedom becomes a separate international person.When a part of state is ceded to another state.When a state accepts the suzerainty or becomes a protectorate of another state.
3. Theories of State Succession:
a) Theories of Continuity:It includes following theories namely: Theory of universal succession, Theory of Popular Continuity, Theory of Organic Substitution, Theory of Self Abnegation. In universal succession the change of rule whether effected by cession of territory, by revolution or by death, cannot involve the replacement of one right or duty by another, but only a replacement of their subjects. Theory of Popular Continuity says that change of sovereignty involves no more than a change in the fictitious element in political organization, the real element surviving intact. Theory of Organic Substitution emphasizes more the nature of change itself than the legal effects of political change. When states appears and disappears, the people and territory and integrated in a new organic being. Theory of Self Abnegation explains that state is at liberty to take over or reject whatever suits it in the previous legal order.
b) Negative Theories: The sovereignty of the predecessor state over the absorbed territory is abandoned.
c) Theories Importing International Law: International law is based on the positive practice of State, “directs the successor State to discharge certain of its predecessor’s obligations, and vests in it, certain its predecessor’s rights.
5) Rights and Duties arising out of State Succession:
a) Political Rights and Duties:No Succession takes place in respect of political duties and rights.
b) Local rights and duties: In respect of land, rivers, roads, railways etc., therefore the succeeding state succeeds the rights and duties of the former state.
c) Debts:It depends on the discretion of succeeding state whether to pay or not to pay the public debts of the former state.
d) Nationality: The nationals of the former state lose their nationality at the extinction of the state and become the nationals of new state.
e) Laws:As far as the law of the former states is concerned, civil law continues until it is changed by the succeeding state.
f) Public funds and public property: The successor state takes over the public funds and public property of the predecessor state.
g) Article 11: Article 11 of the convention which deals Boundary Regimes, clearly provides that a succession of states does not as such affect: (a) a boundary established by a treaty, or (b) obligations and rights established by a treaty
h) Article 15:When part of the territory of a State, or when any territory for the international relations of which a State is responsible, not being part of the territory of that State, becomes part of the territory of another State: (a) treaties of the predecessor State cease to be in force in respect of the territory to which the succession of States relates from the date of the succession of States; and (b) treaties of the successor State are in force in respect of the territory to which the succession of States relates from the date of the succession of States, unless it appears from the treaty or is otherwise established that the application of the treaty to that territory would be incompatible withthe object and purpose of the treaty or would radically change the conditions for its operation.
6) Conclusion: After studying the whole topic we would like to conclude that Unification of states is the merger of two or more states into a new entity. The predecessor states usually disappear; if not, one of them continues to exist and the case is referred to as absorption. Separation is the creation of the successor state(s) while the predecessor state continues to exist. The phenomenon is protean: decolonization, unification, and separation are the possible occurrences of state succession. Decolonization is the accession to independence of a nonmetropolitan territory.