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Succession of States

Succession occurs when one state ceases to exist or loses control over part of its territory, and another state comes into existence or assumes control over the territory lost by the first state. A central concern in this instance is whether the international obligations of the former state are taken over by the succeeding state. Changes in the form of government of one state, such as the replacement of a monarchy by a democratic form of government, do not modify or terminate the obligations incurred by the previous government.

When the state ceases to exist, however, the treaties it concluded generally are terminated and those of the successor state apply to the territory. These include political treaties like alliances, which depend on the existence of the state that concluded them. But certain obligations, such as agreements concerning boundaries or other matters of local significance, carry over to the successor state. More difficult to determine is the continuing legality of treaties granting concessions or contract rights. Scholarly opinion has diverged on this aspect of succession, and state practice has likewise divided. Consequently each case must be studied on its merits to determine whether the rights and duties under the contract or concession are such that the successor state is bound by the obligations of the previous state.

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