Treaties - Research Guide International Law

Considering the fundamental role of treaties in international relations and recognizing the importance of treaties as a  source of  international law, the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties was adopted in 1969. The Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties regulates the conclusion and entry into force of treaties, the application and interpretation of treaties as well as the amendment, invalidity and termination of treaties. According to Article 2 of this multilateral agreement, a ‘treaty’ means ‘an international agreement concluded between States in written form and governed by international law, whether embodied in a single instrument or in two or more related instruments and whatever its particular designation.’ A treaty concluded between one or more States and one or more international organizations, or between international organizations, can also be referred to as a treaty. According to Article 38 of the Statute of the International Court of Justice, ‘international conventions, whether general or particular, establishing rules expressly recognized by the contesting states’ must be applied by the Court, when deciding disputes that are submitted to it. From this one can conclude that treaties are one of the principal sources of public international law.

This Research Guide is intended as a starting point for research on the Law of Treaties. It provides the basic legal materials available in the Peace Palace Library, both in print and electronic format. Handbooks, leading articles, bibliographies, periodicals, serial publications and documents of interest are presented in the Selective Bibliography section. Links to the PPL Catalogue are inserted. The Library’s classification index code 131. Law of Treaties and subject heading (keyword) Treaties are instrumental for searching through the Catalogue. Special attention is given to our subscriptions on databases, e-journals, e-books and other electronic resources. Finally, this Research Guide features links to relevant websites and other online resources of particular interest.


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  • Bjorge, E., The Evolutionary Interpretation of Treaties, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2014. Showcase item

    Bjorge, E., The Evolutionary Interpretation of Treaties, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2014.

    If an old treaty regulating ‘commerce’ or forbidding ‘degrading treatment of persons’ is to be interpreted decades after its conclusion, does ‘commerce’ or ‘degrading treatment of persons’ have the same meaning at the time of interpretation as they had when the treaty was concluded? The evolutionary interpretation of treaties has proven one of the most controversial topics in the practice of international law. Indeed, it has been seen as going against the very grain of the law of treaties, and has been argued to be contrary to the intention of the parties, breaching the principle of consent. This book asks what the place of evolutionary interpretation is within the understanding of treaties, at a time when many important international legal instruments are over five decades old. It sets out to place the evolutionary interpretation of treaties on a firm footing within the Vienna rules of interpretation, as codified in Articles 3133 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties. The book demonstrates that the evolutionary interpretation of treatiesin common with all other types of interpretationis in fact based upon an objective understanding of the intention of the parties. In order to marry intention and evolution, the book argues that, on the one hand, evolutionary interpretation is the product of the correct application of Articles 3133 and, on the other, that Articles 3133 are geared towards the objective establishment of the intention of the parties. The evolutionary interpretation of treaties is therefore shown to represent an intended evolution.

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  • Aust, A., Modern Treaty Law and Practice, New York, Cambridge University Press, 2013. Showcase item

    Aust, A., Modern Treaty Law and Practice, New York, Cambridge University Press, 2013.

    This new edition of a textbook first published in 2000 provides a comprehensive account of the law of treaties from the viewpoint of an experienced practitioner. As such, it is the first, and only, book of its kind. Aust provides a wealth of examples of the problems experienced with treaties on a daily basis, not just when they are the subject of a court case. He explores numerous precedents from treaties and other related documents, such as memorandums of understanding (MOUs), in detail. Using clear, accessible language, the author covers the full extent of treaty law, drawing examples from both treaties and MOUs. Modern Treaty Law and Practice is essential reading for teachers and students of law, political science, international relations and diplomacy, who have an interest in treaties.

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  • Binder, C., Die Grenzen der Vertragstreue im Völkerrecht: am Beispiel der nachträglichen Änderung der Umstände, Heidelberg, Springer, 2013.

    Binder, C., Die Grenzen der Vertragstreue im Völkerrecht am Beispiel der nachträglichen Änderung der Umstände, Heidelberg, Springer, 2013
    Die Arbeit untersucht das Spannungsverhältnis zwischen Vertragstreue und Umstandsänderung im aktuellen Völkerrecht. Hierzu werden zunächst die Rechtsinstitute des allgemeinen Völkervertragsrechts, grundlegende Umstandsänderung, nachträgliche Unmöglichkeit der Erfüllung und Obsoleszenz dargestellt, die ein Abrücken von Vertragspflichten durch eine Vertragspartei unter dem Eindruck der nachträglichen Änderung der Umstände ermöglichen. Im Folgenden wird erörtert, inwiefern die Rechtswidrigkeitsausschlussgründe des Rechts der Staatenverantwortlichkeit – Notstand und höhere Gewalt – das Instrumentarium des allgemeinen Völkerrechts als Grenzen der Vertragstreue erweitern. Schließlich wird der Umgang mit Umstandsänderungen in ausgewählten Vertragsregimen – Menschenrechten, Seerecht, GATT/WTO-Regime und Investitionsrecht – analysiert und gefragt, inwiefern die Grenzen der Vertragstreue in den spezifischen Regimen differenzierter gezogen werden und wie das Verhältnis zwischen den Vertragsbestimmungen und den Rechtsinstituten des allgemeinen Völkerrechts zu lösen ist.​
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  • Chanaki, A., L'Adaptation des Traités Dans les Temps, Bruxelles, Bruylant, 2013.

    Chanaki, A., L'Adaptation des Traités Dans les Temps, Bruxelles, Bruylant, 2013.
    Amendement formel et moyens informels développés par la pratique des États se conjuguent dans cet ouvrage pour dessiner le tableau et établir l’interaction des mécanismes disponibles en droit international pour adapter les traités au passage du temps.
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  • Nolte, G. (ed.), Treaties and Subsequent Practice, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2013.

    Nolte, G. (ed.), treaties and subsequent practice, oxford, oxford university press, 2013

    Under the relevant rules of international law, treaties are interpreted in accordance with the ordinary meaning of the language they use, their object and purpose, and the intention of the drafters, but also in light of the subsequent practice of its parties. This subsequent practice can shed light on articles whose meaning is ambiguous and subsequent agreement can even alter the meaning of treaty provisions. At a time when many of the most important international treaties are more than fifty years old, subsequent practice plays an increasingly important role in their interpretation.

    Treaties and Subsequent Practice discusses the role and relevance of this subsequent practice in the process of dynamic treaty interpretation. The book provides a comprehensive treatment of this topic by eminent commentators, combining contributions which focus on practical cases with chapters examining the theoretical underpinnings of treaty interpretation. The concept of subsequent practice is situated in the more general context of treaty law and international law, looking at different cases and doctrinal questions to assess its policy dimensions. The book addresses the question of whether subsequent practice plays a more or less significant role in different areas of international law, and whether it can be employed as a partial substitute for formal treaty amendments. It also includes two previously unpublished reports issued by the International Law Commission’s Study Group on this topic.

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  • Zabalza, G.O., The Principle of Systematic Integration: Towards a Coherent International Legal Order, Zürich, Lit, 2012.

    the principle of systemic integration gabriel orellana zabalza

    This dissertation analyzes whether or not the principle of systemic integration – as expounded in Article 31(3)(c) of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties – contributes to attainment of a coherent international legal system. For this purpose, the book considers three general ideas: the “unity” of the international legal system and fragmentation; the general rule on treaty interpretation and the principle of systemic integration; and the role of systemic integration in the achievement of coherence. Each one involves specific issues and considerations which ultimately assist in addressing the main question as to the usefulness of the principle in the curtailment of fragmentation in the international legal system.

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  • The Peace of Christmas Eve

    Peace is an elusive thing. For many, the attraction of the Christmas season is the momentary fulfillment of that dream, the wonderful moment of ‘Peace on Earth’. For one night, it seems possible. As Christmas approaches, we experience a sense of ‘Peace on Earth’. A few times in history, this sense of peace at Christmas had real impact on human affairs. A little known example is the the signing of the Treaty of Ghent on Christmas Eve, December 24, 1814, ending a war, the War of 1812, between the United States and the British Empire and their allies.

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