Chapter III – Subsequent Development of the Title – 2
Notion of State or government succession and its consequences
The issue of the international status of the archipelagos in the China Sea is greatly complicatedon all sides
by problems of State or government succession
The case of Vietnam
On the Vietnamese side,
120 years were to elapse between the pre-colonial Empire of Annamand a sovereign, reunified Vietnam
(the shelling of the port of Tourane in 1856 marked thestart of the colonial conquest). In the initial, somewhat uncertain period (lasting approximatelyuntil the nomination of Paul Doumer as Governor General in 1897), the Empire of Annamretained a degree of international personality through the system of the protectorate.Under the first Treaty (15 March 1874), the Emperor simultaneously promised
‘to align his foreign policy on that of France and to change nothing in his current diplomatic relations’
(Article 3, paragraph 1)
retained the power to conclude treaties under certainconditions
, albeit restrictive conditions under French control.On 6 June 1884
a second Treaty of Protectorate, known as the Patenotre Treaty
, came intoforce, giving France more swinging powers
‘France shall represent Annam in all its external relations’
(Article 1, paragraph 2).
The personality of Annam, a highly fictitious one, wasnevertheless preserved.
Its gradual incorporation into the Indochinese Union began with thedecree of 17 October 1887.
Its attachment to the Ministry of the Colonies was effective from1894 onwards.
Therefore a first instance of State succession did take place
, this being understood as
” the fact of the replacement of one State by another … with respect to a given territory’”
… and agiven time. The status of French colony left no room for an international legal personality, and
the personality of France effectively replaced that of the Empire of Annam.
The PatenotreTreaty had not been formally abolished, yet from 1885 onwards the situation was,
, acolonial one.
The renaissance of the unified Vietnamese State was long and painful
. Although colonialFrance spoke for Vietnam from the time of the protectorate until the Japanese overran the Frenchtroops in Indochina on 9 May 1945,
between 1945 and 1975 many voices were raised on itsbehalf.
A first declaration of independence was made by Emperor Bao Dai on 11 March 1945.
However, on 19 August 1945 the Emperor abdicated in favour of the RevolutionaryGovernment of Ho Chi Minh. The Revolutionary Government, which controlled Tonkinand Annam
proclaimed both independence and the creation of the Democratic Republicof Vietnam on 2 September 1945.
France found itself in a cleft stick: on the one hand,under the
Agreement of 6 March 1946, it recognized
‘the Republic of Vietnam as a free State having its own government, army and finances, and forming part of the