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Part VI Avoiding or Exiting Treaty Commitments, 25 Exceptional Circumstances and Treaty Commitments

Malgosia Fitzmaurice

From: The Oxford Guide to Treaties (2nd Edition)

Edited By: Duncan B. Hollis

From: Oxford Public International Law (http://opil.ouplaw.com). (c) Oxford University Press, 2023. All Rights Reserved.date: 02 December 2023

Good faith — Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties — Pacta sunt servanda — Treaties, invalidity, termination, suspension, withdrawal

This chapter deals with the existence of ‘exceptional circumstances’ that States can invoke to avoid (or remove) their treaty obligations. The following doctrines that may serve this purpose are analysed: (i) supervening impossibility of performance; (ii) fundamental change of circumstances; and (iii) necessity. The first two grounds are codified in Articles 61 and 62 of the 1969 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties. Necessity belongs to the realm of State responsibility (namely, Article 25 of the International Law Commission’s Articles on State Responsibility). As with the broader relationship between the law of treaties and the law of State responsibility, the doctrine of necessity’s relationship with the law of treaties remains unclear and, despite certain case law, it is one of the most taxing areas of international law.

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