Vienna Convention on succession of States in respect of treaties

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The Vienna Convention on Succession of States in Respect of Treaties, often referred to as the VCSST or the Vienna Convention on Succession, is an international treaty that was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on August 23, 1978. The convention provides rules and guidelines for the succession of states in relation to treaties, which means how the rights and obligations under treaties are transferred from one state to another when there is a change in sovereignty or territorial boundaries.

The Vienna Convention on Succession applies when a state undergoes a change in its political regime, merges with another state, divides into multiple states, or experiences other similar circumstances. It ensures that the rights and obligations established by treaties entered into by the predecessor state continue to be recognized and honored by the successor state.

The convention consists of a preamble and 40 articles. It establishes the general principles and procedures for treaty succession, addressing issues such as treaty validity, treaty registration, and state responsibility. The key provisions include:

  1. Automatic succession: Unless otherwise agreed or unless the treaty itself provides otherwise, a successor state is considered to be bound by the treaties of the predecessor state.
  2. Treaties in force: Treaties in force at the time of succession continue to be binding on the successor state, with the same rights and obligations.
  3. Pending treaties: If a treaty has been signed but not yet entered into force at the time of succession, the successor state has the choice to become a party to the treaty or not.
  4. State responsibility: The successor state assumes the responsibility for the acts or omissions of the predecessor state in relation to the treaties.
  5. Treaties incompatible with international law: If a treaty conflicts with a peremptory norm of general international law, such as a treaty prohibiting genocide, the successor state is not bound by the incompatible provisions.
  6. Notification and registration: States are required to notify other parties to the treaty about the succession and provide information for the registration of the succession with the treaty depository, usually the United Nations.

The Vienna Convention on Succession is an important instrument for maintaining treaty continuity and stability in the international legal system. It provides a framework to ensure that the rights and obligations under treaties are respected and upheld despite changes in the political landscape

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