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Article 60. Termination or suspension of the operation of a treaty as a consequence of its breach

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Abstract

Justice requires that a contracting party cannot continue to demand contractual fidelity from the other parties when it defaults on its own obligations and thus upsets the synallagma (reciprocity) of performance and return (do ut des). That simple truth, which one might call negative reciprocity, is well-known from the national contract law principle inadimplenti non est adimplendum, and “is so just, so equitable, so universally recognized, that it must be applied in international relations also”. Accordingly, the ICJ has spoken of “the general principle of law that a right of termination on account of breach must be presumed to exist in respect of all treaties” except for those of a humanitarian character. This principle can, however, not easily be translated into manageable provisions of the international law of treaties, although treaties are undoubtedly subject to the principle of reciprocity, which itself follows from the principle of sovereign equality of States. This is because the function of treaties in the international legal order differs widely from the function of contracts in national law. Treaties are usually more than exchanges of quid pro quo – they are often instruments of international legislation whose termination or suspension requires the balancing of various divergent individual and collective interests.

Keywords

  • Geneva Convention
  • Special Rapporteur
  • Treaty Provision
  • Treaty Obligation
  • Multilateral Treaty

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Notes

  1. 1.

    B Simma/C Tams in Corten/Klein Art 60 MN 3.

  2. 2.

    PCIJ Diversion of Water from the Meuse (dissenting opinion Anzilotti) PCIJ Ser A/B No 70, 50 (1937).

  3. 3.

    ICJ Legal Consequences for States of the Continued Presence of South Africa in Namibia (South West Africa) Notwithstanding Security Council Resolution 276 (1970) (Advisory Opinion) [1971] ICJ Rep 16, paras 96, 98.

  4. 4.

    Statement by de Luna [1966-I/1] YbILC 62.

  5. 5.

    Cf Rosenne 117 et seq.

  6. 6.

    F Capotorti L’extinction et la suspension des traités (1971) 134 RdC 417, 550.

  7. 7.

    See Arts 49–54 ILC Articles on Responsibility of States for Internationally Wrongful Acts, UNGA Res 56/83, 12 December 2001, Annex, UN Doc A/RES/56/83.

  8. 8.

    Cf JN Moore Enhancing Compliance With International Law: A Neglected Remedy (1999) 39 VaJIL 881, 887 et seq.

  9. 9.

    See Preamble 3rd recital UN Charter.

  10. 10.

    Waldock V 36 para 5.

  11. 11.

    Final Draft, Commentary to Art 57, 254 para 5.

  12. 12.

    See Preamble 1st recital of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, UNGA Res 217A (III), 10 December 1948, UN Doc A/810, 71.

  13. 13.

    See the references in G Dahm/J Delbrück/R Wolfrum Völkerrecht Vol I/3 (2nd edn 2002) 733. See also the very detailed description of the antecedents and negotiating history of Art 60 by Rosenne 8 et seq.

  14. 14.

    Final Draft, Commentary to Art 57, 254 para 2.

  15. 15.

    PCIJ Diversion of Water from the Meuse (Judgment) PCIJ Ser A/B No 70 (1937).

  16. 16.

    Tacna-Arica Question (Chile v Peru) 2 RIAA 921, 943–944 (1922).

  17. 17.

    Harvard Draft 662.

  18. 18.

    Harvard Draft 1077. The quote obviously referred to the PCIJ which had been established in 1922, although its jurisdiction was not compulsory.

  19. 19.

    Ibid 1092–1093.

  20. 20.

    Waldock II 72 et seq.

  21. 21.

    Waldock II 75.

  22. 22.

    Art 25 (Waldock II 86 et seq.).

  23. 23.

    [1963-II] YbILC 204.

  24. 24.

    Waldock II 36–37.

  25. 25.

    [1966-I/1] YbILC 127 et seq: an amendment proposed by Yasseen to delete the right to withdraw was adopted by 12 votes to 1.

  26. 26.

    Final Draft 184.

  27. 27.

    UNCLOT I 354–355.

  28. 28.

    UNCLOT III 269.

  29. 29.

    UNCLOT II 115.

  30. 30.

    UNCLOT II 167–168.

  31. 31.

    UNCLOT III 269.

  32. 32.

    UNCLOT II 115 paras 61, 63.

  33. 33.

    UNCLOT II 111–112 paras 14–16.

  34. 34.

    See in particular the intervention by the Israeli delegate (Rosenne) and the reaction by the UK delegate UNCLOT II 113 paras 34, 40.

  35. 35.

    UNCLOT II 115 para 62. See Rule 36 para 1 of the Conference’s Rules of Procedure UNCLOT I xxviii.

  36. 36.

    Final Draft, Commentary to Art 57, 253–254 para 1. See also Dahm/Delbrück/Wolfrum (n 13) 733.

  37. 37.

    Final Draft, Commentary to Art 57, 255 para 9.

  38. 38.

    Ibid (emphasis original).

  39. 39.

    Statement by Waldock [1963-I] YbILC 245.

  40. 40.

    ICJ Gabčíkovo-Nagymaros Project (Hungary v Slovakia) [1997] ICJ Rep 3, para 106.

  41. 41.

    Statement by the President (Ago) UNCLOT II 115.

  42. 42.

    The present formulation goes back to a proposal by Verdross [1966-I/1] YbILC 63 paras 38, 76: “The repudiation of the treaty if not authorized by another provision of this convention”. See also [1966-I/1] YbILC 127 et seq paras 14, 16, 23–28.

  43. 43.

    [1966-I/1] YbILC 127–128 paras 24, 26.

  44. 44.

    Cf Arts 20 et seq ILC Articles on Responsibility of States (n 7).

  45. 45.

    B Simma/C Tams in Corten/Klein Art 60 MN 16.

  46. 46.

    M Fitzmaurice/O Elias Aspects of the Law Relating to Material Breach of Treaty in M Fitzmaurice/O Elias (eds) Contemporary Issues in the Law of Treaties (2005) 125 et seq. See also T Giegerich Multilateral Treaties, Reservations to in MPEPIL (2008) MN 10.

  47. 47.

    Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on Their Destruction 1974 UNTS 45.

  48. 48.

    Example taken from Aust 295.

  49. 49.

    Waldock II 73.

  50. 50.

    Cf Art 20 et seq ILC Articles on Responsibility of States (n 7).

  51. 51.

    MM Gomaa Suspension or Termination of Treaties on Grounds of Breach (1996) 36, 44.

  52. 52.

    C Feist Kündigung, Rücktritt und Suspendierung von multilateralen Verträgen (2001) 135.

  53. 53.

    Cf E Schwelb Termination or Suspension of the Operation of a Treaty as a Consequence of Its Breach (1967) 7 IJIL 309, 314 et seq. However, see also Moore (n 8) 923 et seq. According to the Restatement of the Law Third: The Foreign Relations Law of the United States Vol 1 (1987) 217 para 335 comment b, only a “significant” violation of an essential provision amounts to a material breach. FL Kirgis Jr Some Lingering Questions about Article 60 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties (1989) 22 Cornell ILJ 549, 550 et seq. But see Gomaa (n 51) 121; B Simma/C Tams in Corten/Klein Art 60 MN 18 et seq.

  54. 54.

    UNSC Res 707 (1991), 15 August 1991, UN Doc SC/RES/707, para 1; UNSC Res 1441 (2002), 8 November 2002, UN Doc SC/RES/1441, para 1 – both concerning Iraq. See Aust 295.

  55. 55.

    SD Murphy Contemporary Practice of the United States Relating to International Law, (2002) 96 AJIL 956 et seq.

  56. 56.

    Aust 296.

  57. 57.

    Ibid.

  58. 58.

    See Arts 49–54 ILC Articles on Responsibility of States (n 7).

  59. 59.

    Waldock V 34.

  60. 60.

    Ibid.

  61. 61.

    See → MN 54 et seq as to whether lit a is subject to procedural requirements.

  62. 62.

    Final Draft, Commentary to Art 57, 254 para 6.

  63. 63.

    Harvard Draft 662.

  64. 64.

    Gomaa (n 51) 121 et seq; Dahm/Delbrück/Wolfrum (n 13) 736; Kirgis (n 53) 558 et seq (relying alternatively on reciprocity or reprisal). See also Aust 293.

  65. 65.

    ILC Articles on Responsibility of States (n 7).

  66. 66.

    E Jiménez de Aréchaga International Law in the Past Third of a Century (1978) 159 RdC 1, 81, 83 (for a material breach of a bilateral treaty and the relationship between the defaulting State and the party specially affected by the material breach of a multilateral treaty), quoted approvingly by Sinclair 188 et seq.

  67. 67.

    For the question whether Art 60 permits resort to either the exceptio or countermeasures → MN 72–80.

  68. 68.

    Gabčíkovo-Nagymaros Project (n 40) para 108.

  69. 69.

    Ibid para 110.

  70. 70.

    B Simma/C Tams in Corten/Klein Art 60 MN 60.

  71. 71.

    Moore (n 8) 957 et seq.

  72. 72.

    B Simma/C Tams in Corten/Klein Art 60 MN 54.

  73. 73.

    Villiger Art 60 MN 6.

  74. 74.

    See the comments by Portugal and the United States on Art 42 of the 1963 ILC Draft, Waldock V 34 et seq.

  75. 75.

    Draft Art 19 as included in Fitzmaurice II 31 et seq, 54 et seq.

  76. 76.

    Waldock V 35 para 1.

  77. 77.

    ILC Articles on State Responsibility (n 7).

  78. 78.

    See the ILC’s commentary to Art 42 [2001-II/2] YbILC 117 para 4.

  79. 79.

    Art 51 ILC Articles on Responsibility of States (n 7). It has been argued that the principle of proportionality is a general principle of international law (J Delbrück Proportionality (1997) 3 EPIL 1140 et seq; B Simma/C Tams in Corten/Klein Art 60 MN 63 et seq); Villiger Art 60 MN 6. But see Gomaa (n 51) 120 et seq: proportionality need not be observed in the context of Art 60 beyond what is already pre-built into the mechanisms of that provision. See also Capotorti (n 6) 551; C Laly-Chevalier La violation du traité (2005) 476 et seq.

  80. 80.

    Villiger Art 60 MN 9.

  81. 81.

    Dahm/Delbrück/Wolfrum (n 13) 736.

  82. 82.

    B Simma/C Tams in Corten/Klein Art 60 MN 28.

  83. 83.

    Ibid MN 29 et seq.

  84. 84.

    But see Dahm/Delbrück/Wolfrum (n 13) 738.

  85. 85.

    Aust 294; R Jennings/A Watts Oppenheim’s International Law Vol I Parts 2–4 (9th edn 1992) 1302 footnote 5 (“there is a question whether the procedural provisions in Art 65 apply”). See also Sinclair 189 who questions whether the requirement of unanimous agreement provides adequate guarantees against arbitrary action.

  86. 86.

    B Simma/C Tams in Corten/Klein Art 60 MN 68.

  87. 87.

    Final Draft, Commentary to Art 57, 255 para 7.

  88. 88.

    Waldock V 36.

  89. 89.

    Ibid 35.

  90. 90.

    [2001-II/2] YbILC 119 para 12.

  91. 91.

    Ibid.

  92. 92.

    The first example is mentioned in Final Draft, Commentary to Art 57, 255 para 8, the second in the commentary to Art 42 of the Draft Articles on Responsibility of States for Internationally Wrongful Acts [2001-II/2] YbILC 119 para 13.

  93. 93.

    Final Draft, Commentary to Art 57, 255 para 8.

  94. 94.

    See ILC commentary to Art 42 of the Draft Articles on Responsibility of States for Internationally Wrongful [2001-II/2] YbILC 117–118 paras 4–5.

  95. 95.

    Final Draft, Commentary to Art 57, 255 para 8.

  96. 96.

    Jennings/Watts (n 85) 1302 footnote 6.

  97. 97.

    B Simma/C Tams in Corten/Klein Art 60 MN 12.

  98. 98.

    Waldock II 73.

  99. 99.

    ETS 1.

  100. 100.

    Cotonou Partnership Agreement between the members of the ACP Group of States and the EC and its Member States [2000] OJ L 317, 3.

  101. 101.

    B Simma Reflections on Article 60 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties and Its Background in General International Law (1970) 20 ZÖR 5, 82.

  102. 102.

    ICJ United States Diplomatic and Consular Staff in Tehran (United States v Iran) [1980] ICJ Rep 3, paras 80 et seq.

  103. 103.

    B Simma/C Tams in Corten/Klein Art 60 MN 50 et seq.

  104. 104.

    ECJ (CJ) Commission v Italy Case 52/75 [1976] 277, paras 11–13; Commission v France 232/78 [1979] ECR 2729, para 9; Commission v Germany 325/82 [1984] ECR 777, para 11.

  105. 105.

    Kirgis (n 53) 569 et seq.

  106. 106.

    For an example see → MN 8.

  107. 107.

    J Crawford/S Olleson The Exception of Non-Performance: Links between the Law of Treaties and the Law of State Responsibility (2001) 21 AustrYIL 55, 62 et seq.

  108. 108.

    L-A Sicilianos The Relationship Between Reprisals and Denunciation or Suspension of a Treaty (1993) 4 EJIL 341, 345; Dahm/Delbrück/Wolfrum (n 13) 732–733.

  109. 109.

    As the ICJ indicated, a treaty violation not amounting to a material breach may justify the taking of countermeasures (which the Court did not specify any further): ICJ Gabčíkovo-Nagymaros Project (n 40) para 106.

  110. 110.

    ILC Articles on State Responsibility (n 7).

  111. 111.

    [2001-II/2] YbILC 117 para 4.

  112. 112.

    L Fisler Damrosch Retaliation or Arbitration – or Both? The 1978 United States-France Aviation Dispute (1980) 74 AJIL 785, 790 et seq.

  113. 113.

    B Simma Termination and Suspension of Treaties: Two Recent Austrian Cases (1978) 21 GYIL 74, 85 et seq; Jennings/Watts (n 85) 1302 footnote 4; Moore (n 8) 910; OY Elagab The Place of Non-Forcible Counter-Measures in Contemporary International Law in GS Goodwin-Gill/S Talmon (eds) Festschrift Brownlie (1999) 125, 147 et seq; B Simma/C Tams in Corten/Klein Art 60 MN 69 et seq.

  114. 114.

    Art 49 para 2 Articles on Responsibility of States (n 7).

  115. 115.

    Final Draft, Commentary to Art 57, 255 para 6.

  116. 116.

    See Art 49 para 2, Art 53 ILC Articles on Responsibility of States (n 7).

  117. 117.

    Simma (n 101) 14.

  118. 118.

    Statement by Swiss delegate Bindschedler (Switzerland) UNCLOT I 354–355 para 12.

  119. 119.

    Art 46 of the 1949 Geneva Convention I 75 UNTS 31; Art 47 Geneva Convention II 75 UNTS 85; Art 13 para 3 Geneva Convention III 75 UNTS 135; Art 33 para 3 Geneva Convention IV 75 UNTS 287. See also Art 20 of the 1977 Protocol I Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 1977 1125 UNTS 3.

  120. 120.

    Statement by British delegate Vallat (United Kingdom) UNCLOT I 359 para 83.

  121. 121.

    UNCLOT II 109, 112 et seq.

  122. 122.

    UNCLOT II 167 para 29.

  123. 123.

    G Barile The Protection of Human Rights in Article 60, Paragraph 5 of the Vienna Convention of [sic] the Law of Treaties in Festschrift Ago Vol 2 (1987) 3 et seq seems to underestimate the practical relevance of para 1.

  124. 124.

    Feist (n 52) 156 et seq; Dahm/Delbrück/Wolfrum (n 13) 739 et seq. See also Art 50 para 1 lit b and c Articles on Responsibility of States (n 7).

  125. 125.

    A Verdross/B Simma Universelles Völkerrecht (3rd edn 1984) 518 et seq. See also B Simma/C Tams in Corten/Klein Art 60 MN 45.

  126. 126.

    Dahm/Delbrück/Wolfrum (n 13) 739 et seq.

  127. 127.

    As numerous ‘humanitarian’ treaties contain denunciation clauses, such as the four Geneva Conventions of 1949, which a party could use instead, this aspect of Art 60 para 5 has little practical relevance. According to Art 43, however, the denunciation will not release the State from its obligations under customary international law of which the humanitarian treaties are declaratory.

  128. 128.

    (n 47).

  129. 129.

    Gomaa (n 51) 110 et seq; B Simma/C Tams in Corten/Klein Art 60 MN 47.

  130. 130.

    See eg Art 36 para 1 lit b VCCR.

  131. 131.

    ICJ Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (Advisory Opinion) [2004] ICJ Rep 136, paras 94 et seq; Gabčíkovo-Nagymaros Project (n 40) paras 46, 99.

  132. 132.

    Jennings/Watts (n 85) 1300–1301; Dahm/Delbrück/Wolfrum (n 13) 732.

  133. 133.

    ICJ Construction of a Wall (n 131) para 96.

  134. 134.

    ICJ Gabčíkovo-Nagymaros Project (n 40) para 109 – quoting PCIJ The Factory at Chorzów (Claim for Indemnity) (Jurisdiction) PCIJ Ser A No 9, 31 (1927).

  135. 135.

    Villiger Art 60 MN 27 et seq.

  136. 136.

    ILC Articles on State Responsibility (n 7).

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Correspondence to Oliver Dörr LL.M. (Lond.) .

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Dörr, O., Schmalenbach, K. (2012). Article 60. Termination or suspension of the operation of a treaty as a consequence of its breach. In: Dörr, O., Schmalenbach, K. (eds) Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-19291-3_63

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