Human rights NGOs serve several general functions. Some provide humanitarian assistance. This may often happen through shadow reports to human rights treaty bodies or reports released to the press, or through direct shaming and other pressure tactics. For example, in the spring of several NGOs used the upcoming Summer Olympics in Beijing, China to pressure the Chinese government, which is one of the primary importers of Sudanese oil, into working bilaterally and through the UN Security Council to help combat the human rights violations in the Darfur region of The Sudan.
Other forms of co-operation include technical assistance, such as that provided under the advisory services system of the UN Human Rights Council, or direct bilateral or multilateral technical assistance, for instance to improve the administration of justice. Furthermore, bilateral agreements or international agencies, such as the World Bank and UNDP, may provide financial support so that minimum standards in the sphere of economic and social rights for instance, primary health care or education are met.
Positive approaches may also take other forms such as advocacy efforts directed at government officials and the public for human rights compliance; assistance to human rights organisations; support for the establishment of national institutions which promote or monitor human rights compliance; support for liberalisation processes; and strengthening and supporting equitable trade arrangements.
It should be emphasised that in developing international co-operation on human rights many factors come into play, so a case-by-case approach should always be followed. NGOs, neighbouring countries and treaty bodies must analyse what particular needs or rights are not being met, and identify situation-specific methods and approaches to deal with them. While many countries struggle to meet their human rights obligations, the lack of resources cannot justify violations of fundamental human rights.
States should respond to human rights violations in other countries in order to promote international compliance based on rights and values as opposed to national interests. A wide range of measures can be resorted to in reaction to human rights violations. Some of the following measures may be taken, depending on the seriousness of the situation at hand:.
This list is not exhaustive. The suitability of a measure in a given situation depends on the specific characteristics of the case at hand, and the potential impact of the responses. While sometimes the most appropriate approach seems obvious, the available options have to be carefully weighed. Obviously, measures taken simply to promote respect for human rights are less controversial than possible steps in response to violations such as trade sanctions or humanitarian intervention.
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But at the same time, one should not overlook the fact that the promotion of human rights through development, economic, or trade co-operation programmes by its very nature takes a structural, long-term form. This frequently entails co-operation with recipient countries over a fairly long period, even if the human rights situation continues to leave much to be desired. Effective human rights promotion is generally contingent on the resources available to fund such activities and on the political will of the government whose behaviour is at issue.
Without a clear and proven political commitment to improvement of human rights, supportive initiatives often fail. Sometimes a strong reaction is the best option when violations of human rights have taken place. Here again, a case-by-case approach has to be followed. States have gradually developed various holistic approaches with regards to human rights, whereby in each situation a concept is developed, consisting of a combination of different measures and responses, both supportive and reactive.
Each case will have to be looked at separately in order to avoid callous and often inadequate responses. To allow such holistic approaches, human rights clauses are included in various co-operation agreements, both in the field of development co-operation e. It allows for a change in a co-operative relationship if circumstances concerning human rights change. Nuanced, holistic approaches are increasingly the most appropriate response, since the number of countries where human rights are grossly and systematically violated is in decline.
In other words, the number of unquestionably repulsive situations, where simple, sometimes highly visible reactive decisions may be taken, is decreasing.
Two patterns seem to emerge. On the one hand, there seems to be an increasing number of countries in which there are both in society and the government, bodies, groups and persons engaged, or prepared to engage, in the improvement of the human rights situation. On the other hand, violations may continue, sometimes despite the generally good intentions of the official authorities. The response of other states is, increasingly, to undertake combined measures, reacting to developments in the society concerned.
The increase in human rights violations by non-governmental entities such as guerrilla groups, paramilitary groups, and multi-national corporations is disturbing, and it is sometimes difficult to hold the government accountable for such violations. This element is in some cases further complicated by political instability and internal conflict.
Nonetheless, such cases merit a stronger response than the mere denunciation of human rights violations. It should be iterated that NGOs and individuals play a vital role in the actual implementation process. Not only are NGOs and individuals often more effective than governments and international organisations in collecting accurate, disaggregated data, and more flexible in raising issues in connection with human rights violations, they also provide the crucial external and legitimacy to, and research support for, the actions of states towards third countries.
Part I provides an overview of the international law rules governing exit from multilateral and bilateral treaties, including key provisions of the VCLT. Part II highlights the wide variations in the design and invocation of treaty termination, denunciation, and withdrawal clauses using illustrations from a range of subject areas. Part III sets forth a theory of treaty exit. It argues that termination, denunciation, and withdrawal clauses are tools for managing risk—a pervasive feature of international affairs. It is helpful to begin with a definition of key terms.
Denunciation and withdrawal are used interchangeably to refer to a unilateral act by which a nation that is currently a party to a treaty ends its membership in that treaty. The termination of a multilateral agreement occurs when the treaty ceases to exist for all States parties.
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It is also useful to situate denunciation, withdrawal, and termination within a broader group of mechanisms and doctrines concerning treaty dissolution. The foundational principle of State consent governs the design and operation of all treaty exit clauses. At the negotiation stage, State representatives have free reign to choose the substantive and procedural rules that will govern the future cessation of their relationship.
Once those rules have been adopted as part of the final text, however, a State that ratifies or accedes to the treaty also accepts any conditions or restrictions on termination, withdrawal, or denunciation that the treaty contains. A State that ceases performance after such an attempt remains a party to the treaty, albeit one that may be in breach of its obligations.
In sum, States are the undisputed masters of treaty exit rules. But what if a treaty omits such clauses entirely? This assumption, however, may be negatived in any case a by necessary inference to be derived from the terms of the treaty generally, indicating its expiry in certain events, or an intention to permit unilateral termination or withdrawal; b should the treaty belong to a class in respect of which, ex naturae , a faculty of unilateral termination or withdrawal must be deemed to exist for the parties if the contrary is not indicated—such as treaties of alliance, or treaties of a commercial character.
In the years following the ILC reports, scholars have continued to debate the types of treaties whose nature implies a right to withdraw as well as the evidence needed to demonstrate that the parties recognized the possibility of unilateral exit even if they failed to memorialize such an option in the treaty. Several States have purported to quit multilateral conventions, including those establishing international organizations, notwithstanding the absence of an express exit clause. In addition to providing default exit rules for treaties that lack express exit provisions, the VCLT sets forth important principles concerning the legal consequences of exit.
These limitations are equally applicable to a State that unilaterally withdraws from or denounces a multilateral treaty. As explained below, the overwhelming majority of denunciation and withdrawal clauses require prior notice to other treaty parties. Notice is also required when a State asserts a basis for terminating or withdrawing from a treaty pursuant to the VCLT. They also discourage precipitous and opportunistic withdrawals in which a State seeks to exit and then immediately violate a rule that it previously accepted as binding.
In contrast to issues relating to when an international agreement implicitly precludes exit, scholars have devoted less attention to express denunciation, withdrawal, and termination clauses.
This Part reviews the findings of several recent studies that reveal a wide variation in the design of these clauses and in the situations in which States invoke the clauses to end their treaty-based relationships. This variation suggests that treaty exit provisions are not mere boilerplate provisions but rather a tool for States to manage the risks of international cooperation.
Treaty provisions that authorize unilateral denunciation and withdrawal are pervasive. They are found in a wide array of multilateral and bilateral agreements governing key transborder regulatory issues, including human rights, arms control, trade, investment, and environmental protection.
A study based on a random sample of international agreements published in the United Nations Treaty Series UNTS found that 60 per cent of treaties surveyed contain an exit clause. Examples of each type of clause can be found in Section VI 21 of this volume. For some categories of treaties, such as humanitarian law conventions, the effective date of withdrawal is contingent upon external events, such as the cessation of an existing armed conflict.
X Final Provisions, Art. The most common unilateral exit clauses require advance notice most often of twelve or six months 51 of a decision to withdraw, sometimes with the additional condition that the treaty have been in force for a specified number of years. To the contrary, notices of denunciation and withdrawal are generally short, stylized letters of two or three paragraphs that inform the treaty depository that a State is quitting a particular agreement on a specified future date.
Treaty termination clauses are also highly diverse. Common examples include agreements that have a fixed term of years, often with a presumption of renewal or an expectation of renegotiation. As with unilateral withdrawal provisions, the incidence and type of termination clauses vary by issue area and by type of agreement. Multilateral human rights and environmental protection treaties, for example, often do not include express termination provisions.
In contrast to the design of denunciation, withdrawal, and termination clauses, far less attention has been devoted to how often or in which circumstances States actually invoke these provisions. A study provided a more comprehensive empirical analysis using data collected from the treaty offices of several IOs.
- Denunciation of Human Rights Treaties | British Yearbook of International Law | Oxford Academic.
- States are Bound to Consider the UN Human Rights Committee’s Views in Good Faith.
- [PDF] Towards the Institutional Integration of the Core Human Rights Treaties - Semantic Scholar.
The study identified 1, instances of denunciation and withdrawal from 5, multilateral agreements registered with the UN between to Data from the study, supplemented with more recent examples, reveal that denunciations and withdrawals can be grouped into four broad categories. These categories are not mutually exclusive. Nevertheless, the four categories provide a basic framework for reviewing the empirical landscape of treaty denunciations and withdrawals.
The most high profile and often the most controversial of these involve States that quit a treaty to challenge disfavoured international legal rules or rebuke international institutions. In the late s, for example, three Caribbean States denounced human rights treaties and withdrew from the jurisdiction of international human rights bodies in response to treaty interpretations that resulted in the de facto abolition of the death penalty in those countries.
The most striking example of forced exit occurred in the mids, when the European Union EU demanded that States seeking EU membership denounce BITs with the United States that had been in force since the early s. In the ILO and the International Maritime Organization, for example, the ratification of certain revising conventions or protocols triggers the automatic or compulsory denunciation of earlier agreements. Similarly, a few Council of Europe treaties that supersede earlier agreements on the same topic require ratifying States to denounce the earlier agreements as a condition of membership.
Unlike the three circumstances discussed above, denunciations and withdrawals of this type are also fundamentally cooperative in nature. They often occur in groups or waves, a pattern which suggests an attempt to shift to a new equilibrium point that benefits all or most States parties. The wide variation in the design and use of termination, denunciation, and withdrawal clauses suggests that States pay close attention to the conditions and contours of exit, both when they negotiate international agreements and when they evaluate the costs and benefits of continuing to comply with those agreements over time.
To many commentators anxious to demonstrate that States obey international law, the pervasiveness of these exit options is not something to be advertised, let alone celebrated. To see why this is so, consider the perspective of government officials negotiating a treaty. In an ideal world, the negotiators would hammer out an agreement that maximizes joint gains and induces all affected States to join the treaty and invest the material resources and political capital needed to comply with its terms. In practice, however, numerous types of uncertainty limit the ability of negotiators to achieve such a salutary result.follow url
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The consensual nature of international agreements means that States will join a treaty only if the anticipated benefits of doing so outweigh the expected costs. In terms of their benefits, denunciation, withdrawal, and termination clauses reduce the uncertainties that are pervasive in international affairs.
They do so by providing what is, in effect, an insurance policy—a low cost option for States to end treaty-based cooperation if an agreement turns out badly. All other things being equal, exit clauses encourage ratification by a larger number of States than would join the treaty in the absence of such a clause. Although the ex ante benefits of exit are considerable, treaties that permit easy denunciation may also create impediments to future cooperation.
One concern is that a State will invoke a denunciation or withdrawal clause or credibly threaten to do so whenever economic, political, or other pressures make compliance costly or inconvenient.