Practically every piece of available territory in the world is occupied or controlled by some state. These states upon whom the law of nations operates are sometimes called international persons. The existence of these international persons and the control of territory by them is by no means constant. While all the territory is occupied by one state or another, new ones are frequently appearing within it, old ones disappear, and often between two existing ones a transfer of territory takes place that gives rise to problems that would not exist if the status of each remained constant and the only new international persons were those appearing in territory formerly unoccupied. Like humans who are born, prosper, and die, so states are recognized, flourish, and are extinguished. During their existence, however, they acquire rights and obligations in regard to persons and to things, tangible and intangible, within their own territory and abroad. As international persons appear and disappear, or exchange territory among themselves, a problem arises as to the disposition of these rights and obligations between the displaced and the displacing state. Following the irregular practice of nations, aided by the opinions of the early publicists, there grew up in the law of nations a principle of state succession for the settling of this problem, the full scope of which has never been clearly defined and the conditions necessary to its operation never perfectly agreed upon.

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