Treaty Law

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The Right to Regulate for Public Morals Upheld (Somewhat): The WTO Panel Report in EC-Seal Products

There have been few interpretations of Article XX(a) of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT 1994) - the  specific exception that justifies what would ordinarily be a State's GATT-inconsistent measure, unless such measure is deemed "necessary to protect public morals".  As with any of the ten enumerated exceptions under Article XX of GATT 1994, a State invoking GATT Article XX(a) must first meet the requirements of the specific exception (e.g. demonstrating that the challenged measure is indeed "necessary to protect public morals"), and thereafter show that the challenged measure also complies with the overall requirements of 'good faith' (Brazil - Measures Affecting Imports of Retreaded Tyres, Appellate Body Report of 3 December 2007, at para. 215) as contained in the chapeau to Article XX (e.g. demonstrating that the challenged measure is not being applied in a manner which would constitute a means of arbitrary or unjustifiable discrimination between countries where the same conditions prevail, or a disguised restriction on international trade).  The 25 November 2013 Panel Report in European Communities - Measures Prohibiting the Importation and Marketing…

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Espionage & Good Faith in Treaty Negotiations: East Timor v Australia

In April last year, East Timor instituted arbitral proceedings against Australia at the Permanent Court of Arbitration (‘PCA’) in relation to a dispute arising under the 2006 Treaty on Certain Maritime Arrangements in the Timor Sea (‘CMATS Treaty’). Timor Leste (as East Timor is formally known) alleges that the CMATS Treaty is invalid because Australia engaged…

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Treaty Interpretation, the VCLT and the ICC Statute: A Response to Kevin Jon Heller & Dov Jacobs

In response to my recent post on whether the ICC can prosecute for use of chemical weapons in Syria,  my friend Kevin Jon Heller raises an important issue of treaty interpretation over at Opinio…

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Iran’s (Non-)Compliance with its Non-Proliferation Obligations Revisited

A recent statement issued by the EU entitled ‘Common messages regarding EU sanctions against the Iranian nuclear programme’, posted on the websites of various EU embassies in Tehran (and translated into Farsi), attempts to sum up the reasons which have allegedly justified not only the sanctions on Iran decided by the UN Security Council, but…

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What is the Meaning of “Consensus” in International Decision Making?

On 28 March, the negotiators at the Final UN Diplomatic Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty failed to adopt the Arms Trade Treaty (see BBC report here) by consensus.  A few days later the Arms Trade Treaty was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly (by a vote of 154 in favour, three against and 23 abstentions…

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