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Part I Foundational Issues, 3 Alternatives to Treaty-Making— Informal Agreements

Timothy Meyer

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: 07 December 2023

International co-operation — International law and international relations — Sources of international law — Consensual arrangements other than treaties

In international norm-making, actors other than States participate in ways that bear some similarities to norm-making among States. These alternatives to formal treaty-making produce a wide range of instruments with many different kinds of labels, such as MOUs, soft law, and political commitments. This chapter reviews the existing literature and practice on informal lawmaking. Section I begins by reviewing basic definitional issues, as well as three contexts in which international lawyers confront non-binding agreements. Section II canvasses the existing literature on why States and non-State actors turn to informal agreements. Section III turns to normative matters, arguing that non-binding agreements are not significantly less efficacious or accountable than binding international agreements. The chapter ends with a call for States to continue to develop guidelines for informal lawmaking — work already begun by the Inter-American Juridical Committee.

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