Journal Article

Termination and Suspension of, and Withdrawal from, WMD Arms Control Agreements in Light of the General Law of Treaties

Guido den Dekker and Tom Coppen

in Journal of Conflict and Security Law

Volume 17, issue 1, pages 25-47
Published in print April 2012 | ISSN: 1467-7954
Published online March 2012 | e-ISSN: 1467-7962 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jcsl/krs004
Termination and Suspension of, and Withdrawal from, WMD Arms Control Agreements in Light of the General Law of Treaties

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In arms control law, the need for predictability, clarity and deliberateness, as well as the importance of reciprocity have led to multilateral treaty-making, to promote legal certainty in this area of international law. Simultaneously, vital interests of State sovereignty, national security and defense, which are apparent in weapons of mass destruction (WMD)-related arms control agreements in particular, demand a certain level of flexibility within such agreements once concluded. The agreements, such as the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), Chemical Weapons Convention and Biological Weapons Convention, possess distinctive features vis-à-vis general public international law. This article examines, in particular, the content and function of the special withdrawal clauses in these arms control agreements in the light of the general rules of the law of treaties, as codified in the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties (VCLT). Focus is on fundamental change of circumstances, material breach and the effects of armed conflict on the validity and operation of WMD arms control agreements. Although the special clauses provide the States-parties with more flexibility than is available to them under general law of treaties there is no evidence of incompatibility with the lex generalis provisions of the VCLT. The downside of this flexibility in WMD arms control agreements is aptly illustrated by the lack of a clear response from the international community to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea’s withdrawal from the NPT.

Journal Article.  11593 words. 

Subjects: Public International Law

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