Modus means mode, way (or method, manner). vivendi means of living. Together, way of living, implies an accommodation between disputing parties to allow life to go on. It usually describes informal and temporary arrangements in political affairs. For example, where two sides reach a modus vivendi regarding disputed territories, despite political, historical or cultural incompatibilities, an accommodation of their respective differences is established for the sake of contingency. This sense of the term has been used as a keystone in the political philosophy of John Gray.
In diplomacy, a modus vivendi is an instrument for establishing an international accord of a temporary or provisional nature, intended to be replaced by a more substantial and thorough agreement, such as a treaty. It is usually fashioned informally, and so never requires legislative ratification. Typically armistices and instruments of surrender are modus vivendi.
After Kuwait became independent in 1961, Iraq claimed that it remained Iraq's territory. However, after a British intervention, they backed down and formally recognised Kuwait's independence, establishing a modus vivendi.[clarification needed]
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