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Limping Treaties: Lessons from Multilateral Treaty-making

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  1. See A. Aust, Modern Treaty Law and Practice (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press 2000) pp. 240–242.

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  2. ‘Ratification’ includes other means of expressing consent to be bound, such as acceptance, approval and accession, as well as succession.

  3. As general background, see Review of the Multilateral Treaty-Making Process (UN, 1985, ST/LEG/SER.B/21).

  4. See Aust, op. cit. n. 2, at pp. 17–18 and 28–46.

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  5. A ‘negotiating state’ is defined in Art. 2(1)(e) of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties as ‘a State which took part in the drawing up and adoption of the text of the treaty’ (cf., the Convention’s definitions of ‘contracting state’ and ‘party’). A treaty negotiated between a small, select number of states on a subject of particular interest to them is sometimes called ‘plurilateral’ (see the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties 1969, Art. 20(2) and Aust, op. cit. n. 2, at pp. 15 and 112–113).

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  6. The Convention is open to ‘all states’. The Cook Islands are not independent of New Zealand but has become party to several treaties, bi- and multilateral, though it is not clear on what basis. As to the status of the Holy See, see R. Jennings and A. Watts, eds., Oppenheim’s International Law, 9th edn. (London, Longman 1992) pp. 327–329.

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  7. 71 UNTS p. 101 (Reg. No. 912).

  8. 93 LNTS p. 343; UKTS (1931) No. 32.

  9. ICJ Rep. (1973) p. 99 and ICJ Rep. (1974) p. 253 at p. 457.

  10. ICJ Rep. (1978) p. 3.

  11. 32 ILM (1993) p. 557. See

  12. Of the 45 members of the Council of Europe only 14 are parties to its Convention for the Peaceful Settlement of Disputes 1957 (320 UNTS p. 243 (Reg. No. 4646)). It entered into force upon two members becoming parties. The United Kingdom is a party; France is not.

  13. 1155 UNTS p. 331 (Reg. No. 18232).

  14. See A. Watts, The International Law Commission 1949–1998, Vol. II (Oxford, Oxford University Press 1999) pp. 609 et seq.

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  15. See 8 ILM (1969) p. 714 for a comparative table of draft and adopted articles.

  16. I. Sinclair, The Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, 2nd edn. (Manchester, Manchester University Press 1984) pp. 12–18.

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  17. See, for example, J. Gardner, ed., Human Rights as General Norms and a State’s Right to Opt Out (London, British Institute of International and Comparative Law 1997).

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  18. A subject last dealt with by McNair in the final chapter of The Law of Treaties, 2nd edn. (Oxford, Clarendon Press 1961) pp. 693–728. It is now to be the subject of an in-depth study by the British Institute of International and Comparative Law, leading eventually to a book.

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  19. See Watts, op. cit. n. 16, at p. 612.

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  20. See T. Treves, ‘Codification du droit international et pratique des Etats dans le droit de la mer’, 223 Hague Recueil (1990-IV) pp. 25–60; H. Caminos and M. Molitor, ‘Progressive Development of International Law and the Package Deal’, 79 AJIL (1985) pp. 871–890. See also A. Bos and H. Siblesz, eds., Realism in Law-Making (Dordrecht, Nijhoff 1986) pp. 211–229 (Sinclair) and 231–246 (Sohn).

  21. Numerous examples, particularly concerning Arts. 31 and 32 (Interpretation) are to be found in International Law Reports (see the lengthy entry in the ILR Consolidated Table of Cases and Treaties, Vols. 1–80 (1991) pp. 799–801).

  22. ICJ Reports (1997) p. 7, paras. 41–46 and 99.

  23. M. Mendelson, in V. Lowe and M. Fitzmaurice, eds., Fifty Years of the International Court of Justice (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press 1996) p. 66; H. Thirlway, ‘The Law and Procedure of the International Court of Justice’, 62 BYIL (1991) p. 3.

  24. 25 ILM (1986) p. 543.

  25. See Art. 2 of the Convention and the ILC Commentary on the draft Art. 2(1)(b bis) in Watts, op. cit. n. 16, at p. 832.

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  26. G. Gaja, ‘The “New” Vienna Convention on Treaties’, 58 BYIL (1987) p. 253 at p. 254.

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  27. 1946 UNTS p. 3 (Reg. No. 33356).

  28. I include Estonia in the category of new state even though it resumed its previous statehood. Since it was for 50 years de facto part of the Soviet Union, it had to resolve succession problems of some novelty. Although Ukraine was a member of the United Nations from the beginning, and party to many treaties while it was still part of the Soviet Union, it also had special succession problems: see Aust, op. cit. n. 2, at pp. 314 and 312–314, respectively.

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  29. See, for example, 79 AJIL (1995) pp. 761–762.

  30. 22 ILM (1983) p. 298. Watts, Vol. II, op. cit. n. 16, at p. 1209.

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  31. See section 4.2 below.

  32. Aust, op. cit. n. 2, at pp. 309–319.

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  33. Watts, Vol. II, op. cit. n. 16, at p. 993.

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  34. Watts, op. cit. n. 16, at pp. 994–995.

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  35. For an authoritative account of some of the problems experienced in the negotiations, see A. Watts, ‘State Succession: Some Recent Practical Problems’, in V. Goetz, sP. Selmer and R. Wolfrum eds, Liber amicorum Günther Jaenicke (Berlin, Springer Verlag 1998) pp. 405–426.

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  36. 41 ILM (2002) p. 3. It is also on the UN website (treaty section) and on Sir Arthur Watts, the architect of the treaty, signed it as a witness.

  37. 1410 UNTS p. 231 (Reg. No. 23431).

  38. This formulation ignores the practice of two or more states sending temporary missions to meet on the ‘neutral’ territory of a third state. When they are at Head of State level customary international law may accord members sufficient immunity, but when they are at official level there may be doubt whether they enjoy immunity.

  39. A. Watts, eds., Oppenheim’s International Law, 9th edn. (London, Longman 1992) See Oppenheim’s International Law, 9th edn., op. cit. n. 7, at pp. 1125–1126.

  40. Watts, Vol. I, op. cit. n. 16, at pp. 449 et seq.

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  41. The International Committee of the Red Cross is an international organisation, but governments are not members of it. It is a Swiss corporation, though it has a special place internationally: see M. Shaw, International Law, 4th edn. (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press 1997) pp. 192 and 821.

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  42. 1 UNTS p. 15 (Reg. No. 4).

  43. 1342 UNTS p. 137 (Reg. No. 22495); 19 ILM (1980) p. 1523; UKTS (1996) No. 105.

  44. See p. 248 above.

  45. A. Aust, ‘Counter-Terrorism — A New Approach’, 5 Max Planck Yearbook of UN Law (2001) pp. 285–306.

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  46. 16 ILM (1977) p. 1391.

  47. 360 UNTS p. 117 (Reg. No. 5158); UKTS (1960) No. 41.

  48. 989 UNTS p. 175 (Reg. No. 14458).

  49. UN Law of the Sea Bulletin (1986) p. 87; 26 ILM (1987) p. 1229. See A.V. Lowe and R.R. Churchill, The Law of the Sea, 3rd edn. (Manchester, Manchester University Press 1999) p. 260.

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  50. See section 1 above.

  51. See further, A. Aust, ‘The Procedure and Practice of the Security Council Today’, in R.J. Dupuy, ed., The Development of the Role of the Security Council: peace-keeping and peace-building (Dordrecht, Martinus Nijhoff 1993) pp. 365–374.

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  52. See p. 248 above.

  53. See p. 260, n. 50 above

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Aust, A. Limping Treaties: Lessons from Multilateral Treaty-making. Neth Int Law Rev 50, 243–266 (2003).

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