Treaty Law

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Changes in Treaty Interpretation: The ICRC’s Updated Commentaries to the Geneva Conventions

Last Saturday (12 August) marked the 74th anniversary of the adoption of the 1949 Geneva Conventions on the protections to be accorded to victims of armed conflict. With 196 states parties, the four Geneva Conventions are (together with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child) the most widely ratified of all treaties, with more states having ratified or acceded to them than the UN Charter (which has 193 parties). A few years ago, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) began the important project of updating its Commentaries to the 1949 Geneva Conventions, and the 1977 Additional Protocols to those Conventions. The original commentaries to the 1949 Conventions were largely prepared in the 1950s, and the need for an update to those commentaries is obvious given the developments since then. So far, the ICRC has published updated commentaries to the first three Geneva Conventions. When the ICRC published its Customary International Humanitarian Law Study nearly two decades ago, that work raised interesting and fundamental…

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The Death of Nuclear Arms Control Treaties

A generational crisis in international nuclear arms control law was already looming when, on February 21, 2023, Vladimir Putin announced that Russia would suspend its participation in the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START).  New START, a bilateral nuclear arms control treaty between Russia and the U.S., was already scheduled to terminate by its terms…

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The Good Friday Agreement and International Treaty Law

10 April 2023 marks 25 years since the signing of the 1998 Belfast/Good Friday Agreement. The agreement was a remarkable political and diplomatic achievement that has allowed a generation of young people to grow up in a society largely free from the worst kinds of violence that marked the conflict in Northern Ireland.

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On the ‘Suspension’ of the New START Treaty by Russia

On 21 February 2023, the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin, announced to the Federal Assembly that Russia would suspend the Treaty between the United States of America and the Russian Federation on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (the ‘New START Treaty’, signed on 8 April 2010…

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The Forever Negotiations

A major question coming out of the 2015 Paris conference was whether the Paris Agreement represented a meeting of the minds and would provide a stable framework for international cooperation on climate change going forward, or whether it papered over differences and left crucial issues unresolved.  For twenty-five years, states had engaged in an almost continuous process of…

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