Treaty Law

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In with the old? The calls for scrapping the ship-scrapping convention

The Hong Kong International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships, 2009 is set to enter into force in June 2025 and deals with the responsible dismantling of shipping vessels. The Convention’s low standards at the time of drafting in 2009 were the result of states’ unwillingness to seriously address planetary and human concerns. The ship recycling industry is still plagued with some of the gravest forms of labour abuse and environmental pollution. Nonetheless, what is needed is not another treaty vis-à-vis states, but instead, stricter company compliance with the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises and the UN Guiding Principles (UNGPs). Shifting focus to corporate responsibility would give room to push for a cradle-to-grave approach, rather than regressing to sub-par standards drafted over a decade ago that will lower the benchmark for all. The industry at a glance Shipping vessels have a lifespan of 20-25 years, and their end-of-life value is determined by the amount of steel it is made of. Thus, shipbreaking deals neatly with…

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ECOWAS Withdrawal and the law of treaty withdrawal

On 28 January 2024, the governments of Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger issued a coordinated joint communiqué on national television in their respective countries announcing their withdrawal from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). All three countries had been under political and economic sanctions from ECOWAS following coup d’états and unconstitutional changes of government.  …

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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…

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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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