Treaty, Withdrawal

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Summary

A treaty is an agreement under international law entered into by actors in international law, namely sovereign states and international organizations. A treaty may also be known as an (international) agreement, protocol, covenant, convention, pact, or exchange of letters, among other terms. Regardless of terminology, all of these forms of agreements are, under international law, equally considered treaties and the rules are the same.

Details

Treaties are not necessarily permanently binding upon the signatory parties. As obligations in international law are traditionally viewed as arising only from the consent of states, many treaties expressly allow a state to withdraw as long as it follows certain procedures of notification. For example the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs provides that the treaty will terminate if, as a result of denunciations, the number of parties falls below 40. Many treaties expressly forbid withdrawal. Article 56 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties provides that where a treaty is silent over whether or not it can be denounced there is a rebuttable presumption that it cannot be unilaterally denounced unless:

  • it can be shown that the parties intended to admit the possibility, or
  • the right of withdrawal can be implied into the terms of the treaty.

The possibility of withdrawal depends on the terms of the treaty and its travaux preparatoire. It has, for example, been held that it is not possible to withdraw from the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. When North Korea declared its intention to do this the Secretary-General of the United Nations, acting as registrar, said that that original signatories of the ICCPR had not overlooked the possibility of explicitly providing for withdrawal, but rather had deliberately intended not to provide for it. Consequently withdrawal was not possible.

If a state party's withdrawal is successful, its obligations under that treaty are considered terminated, and withdrawal by one party from a bilateral treaty of course terminates the treaty. When a state withdraws from a multi-lateral treaty, that treaty will still otherwise remain in force among the other parties, unless, of course, otherwise should or could be interpreted as agreed upon between the remaining states parties to the treaty.

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External Links

  • WikipediaTreaties and Selected other International Instruments – ResourcesUnited Nations Treaty CollectionProcedural history and related documentsProcedural history and related documents

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