State succession to international intergovernmental organizations … 17
The state continuity subject typically occurs in cases where an element of the
state has undergone some significant changes (such as territorial transformation or
conversion of form of government). A claim of continuity is essentially a request to
continue its existence as a state, independently, in order to not disturb, despite
these radical changes, the international legal order.
Although the use of the concepts "continuity" and "state succession", as well as
the distinction between them have been criticized because they make a difficult
problem become even more confused by masking various circumstances and also
due to the complexity of the legal issues that arise in practice, it is however
recognized, that in certain areas of international law, the distinction is fundamental
and necessary. Whilst in the recent practice of states has been drew a line between
continuity and succession, the distinction between these two concepts is more
important in those cases where certain rights and obligations, as a rule, do not
transfer from the predecessor state to the successor. For example, in traditional
international law is clearly ruled that there is no succession in case of liability of
states and membership to international organisations8.
Between membership and succession should be made, however, the following
distinction: the membership is a corollary of the status of being party to a treaty by
which it is established an international organization, when succession to the
constituent treaty automatically imply obtaining membership in that organization.
Thus, the succession to the constituent treaty, prima facie an issue of the legality of
state succession to treaties, violates the rule of acquiring membership after having
performed the normal procedures for admittance as member in an international
Since international organizations can be classified in various ways, in terms of
acquiring membership there should be also made two important distinctions.
First, a distinction should be made between the categories of members who
may be "full members" and these have all the rights deriving from membership of
the organization, or can be “associate members”, in this case having only some
Typically, except few particular cases, in most international organizations, full
membership is attributed solely to sovereign and independent states (eg. UN,
IAEA, IFAD, ILO, IMO, UNESCO, WIPO etc.), to nations (eg. FAO) or countries
(eg. IMF, IBRD, IFC, Berne Union), while independent territories, since they are not
responsible for their conduct in international relations may become only associate
Secondly, in many constituent instruments of international organizations, a
distinction is made between the rules for acquiring membership. It is distinguished
between founding members, initial or original.
8 K.G. Buhler, State Succession and Membership in International Organizations: Legal Theories versus
Political Pragmatism, Kluwer Law International, Hague, 2001, p. 7- 8.
9 K.G. Buhler, op. cit., p. 19-20.