Response or Comment
Procedures for Controlling Unilateral Treaty Termination, 63 American Journal of International Law 544 (1969)
The absence of institutionalized procedures for resolving disputes about continuing treaty regimes has produced a number of practical problems for international lawyers. A treaty is a formalized reciprocally beneficial commitment to collaborative behavior, which is undertaken in a factual context. If the factual context changes radically, the shared benefits of the treaty may shift and continued performance of its original terms may impose a severe deprivation on one party. When these circumstances arise, the deprived party lodges a claim to amend or terminate the treaty. It is at this point that the absence of procedures for disputeresolution is sharply felt and the entire institution of treaties in international law is perceived as threatened. One consequence of this situation is the marked reluctance to acknowledge the right of unilateral emendation or termination; the entire institution of clausula rebus sic stantibus is by no means universally accepted. But, in a changing world, a rigid doctrine of pacta sunt servanda itself impedes treaty-making and stable international relationships; its rigor deters responsible states from the broadest international agreements. Where treaty networks are threatened, a state wishing to protect itself must necessarily resort to more coercive strategies whose use can jeopardize general public order.
Date of Authorship for this Version
Reisman, W. Michael, "Procedures for Controlling Unilateral Treaty Termination" (1969). Faculty Scholarship Series. Paper 668.