A treaty is an agreement or contract entered into between two or more states
whereby they undertake to carry out obligations imposed on each of them.
Sovereign states or international organizations come to a formal and legally
binding agreement called a treaty in international law. An essential part of the
international legal system are treaties, which regulate interactions and
relationships between countries. Topics addressed by such agreements include
peace, trade, human rights, and environmental protection. A broad range of
subjects is covered by these legal documents. The specific intentions and
objectives of the participating parties determine which subject matters the
Legal force is what characterizes treaties; the text outlines terms and
provisions meant to obligate parties. As such, states that agree to a treaty are
bound by law to fulfil the obligations listed. Usually, there are diplomatic
meetings and discussions to come to a mutual understanding before the treaty is
concluded. When ratified after fulfilling any necessary domestic processes, a
treaty legally binds the parties involved to comply with the terms of the
agreement they have made. It is their way of expressing mutual acceptance of
Among the top-tier of worldwide legal documents, treaties emphasize the
importance of conflict resolution and cooperation. Cooperation and conflict
resolution are among the key elements of treaties, which rank high in the
pecking order of international legal documents. Such documents help establish
international standards and norms, ensuring orderliness and a sense of control
in global affairs.
Essentially, they outline how nations should handle complex
issues and interact with each other. International law, governing the creation,
explanation, and implementation of such treaties, ensures their legitimacy and
effectiveness in our global community.
According to Oppenheim, International Treaties are agreements of a contractual
character between States or organizations of States, creating legal rights and
obligations between the parties.
According to Starke, a treaty is an agreement whereby two or more states
establish or seek to establish a relationship under International Law. In short
Treaties are International Agreements.
A treaty is an important Source of International Law and an Instrument for
imposing the binding obligation.
Utilities of Treaty
Within international relations, treaties are essential tools that dictate
legally binding agreements and responsibilities between nations or international
groups. They encourage teamwork, sustain tranquillity, and frame methods to
tackle worldwide obstacles. By giving an organized and foreseeable way of
dictating various matters, ranging from trade and ecological preservation to
arms regulation and human liberties, treaties endorse order, constancy, and
cooperation throughout the global community.
Grounds of Termination of Treaty
There exist various reasons why Treaties can come to an end or are terminated.
Typically, the reasons for the termination of a treaty are stated either within
the treaty or based on established laws of the international community.
- Expiry of Specific Period:
When a treaty is made for a fixed or specific period and the period expires, the treaty comes to an end on expiration of the period.
- Fulfilment of Objective:
When a treaty is made for attaining a particular objective and the objective is attained with the treaty imposing no continuing obligations, the treaty terminates.
- Termination by Mutual Consent:
Treaty comes into existence by the consent of the party States. So, it can come to an end by mutual Consent of all the parties.
- War Between Party States:
In a War, If the Party States are the enemy against each other, then contractual obligations come to an end and treaty ipso facto stands terminated.
- Jus Cogens:
If a new peremptory norm emerges and the treaty is in conflict with that norm, the treaty terminates.
- By concluding another treaty:
When a fresh treaty is generated to govern an issue previously regulated by a treaty, the earlier treaty is to become invalid. Additionally, if the stipulations of the new treaty are so mismatched with those of the preceding treaty that they are unable to coexist harmoniously, the preceding treaty shall be deemed cancelled.
- By material breach:
A material breach of a bilateral treaty by one party entitles the other party to terminate the treaty. However, a party may lose its right to invoke the breach if, after becoming aware of the facts, it expressly or impliedly agrees that the treaty remains in force or continues in operation.
- Fundamental Change in Circumstances (Rebus Sic Stantibus):
To terminate a treaty, invoking "rebus sic stantibus" is an option if unforeseen circumstances arise and prevent the parties from following the treaty's provisions.
- Withdrawal Clause:
Some treaties include withdrawal clauses that allow parties to withdraw from the treaty under specific conditions and with advance notice. The Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties provides guidance on withdrawal procedures.
- Impossibility of Performance:
If it becomes physically or legally impossible to fulfill the treaty's obligations, the treaty may be considered terminated due to impossibility of performance.
- One of the Party State Extinct:
When the existence of one of the party states comes to an end, generally in case of the merger of one state into another state, the treaty stands terminated.
- When that obligation of the treaty becomes incompatible with the Charter of United Nations:
Article 103 specifically provides that in the event of a conflict between the obligations of the members of the United Nations and their obligations under any other agreement, their obligations under the Charter shall prevail. In this case, the treaty terminates.
- Terms of treaty becoming injurious to State:
If the terms of the treaty either wholly or partly become injurious to one of the party states, thereby throwing the sovereignty of the state in danger, the contractual obligations come to an end, and the treaty terminates.
- Non-performance of certain essential conditions:
If the treaty grants a unilateral right of denunciation to one or all of the consenting states in case of failure of certain essential conditions, the treaty comes to an end on the happening of such contingency.
- Treaty by fraudulent conduct:
If a State has been induced to conclude a treaty by the fraudulent conduct of another negotiating State, the State may invoke the fraud clause terminating the treaty.
- Corruption of a representative of a State:
If the expression of a state's consent to be bound by a treaty has been procured through the corruption of its representative directly or indirectly by another negotiating State, the State may invoke such corruption to terminate the treaty.
- Coercion of a representative of a State:
Breach of the fundamental precepts of international law outlined in the United Nations Charter via the application of threat or intimidation of a representative of the state leads to the annulment of a treaty.
- Coercion of a State by the threat or use of force:
If a treaty is made by the use of force or the threat thereof against a state, thereby violating the principles of international law embodied in the United Nations' Charter, it renders the treaty null and void.
The exiting of treaties is essential to protect the freedom and independence of
countries to adjust to changing situations and progressing national priorities,
which is crucial in international law and relationships. This enables countries
to break free from deals that are no longer effective or unachievable, ensuring
that treaties remain pertinent and mutually gainful.
termination procedure gives a peaceful approach to handle disagreements between
parties while fortifying the crucial tenet of pacta sunt servanda - which states
that agreements must be maintained - in a manner that adapts to the developments
of a dynamic and changing global backdrop while adhering to established legal
Written By: Md.Imran Wahab
- Public International Law (Law of Peace), Ascent Publications
, IPS, IGP, Provisioning, West Bengal
Email: [email protected]
, Ph no: 9836576565