Authors Name: 
Simon van Oort
University: 
Utrecht University
Category: 
Law
Highly commended

State Dissolution and UN Membership: Comparing the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia

When a state gains independence, dissolves or merges, an important question under public international law is what happens to its membership of international organisations (IO’s). As this issue is not covered by any existing conventions, it is sensible to observe actual practice. This project involves a close examination of two state dissolution cases that arose in the aftermath of the Cold War: the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia. The goal is to explore how these cases compare regarding the membership of the United Nations (UN) and to explain any potential differences. This is done by closely zooming in on the historical context in which they arose and by examining the relevant judgments and decisions as well as applicable secondary literature. Upon examination it becomes clear that the distinctions that seem fundamental in understanding the different approach taken by the UN are the relative size of territory and population compared to the entity that is succeeded, and the recognition by other states and the consent among subnational entities.