Lecture Summary: If a state withdraws from a treaty in a manner that violates its own domestic law, will this withdrawal take effect in international law? The decisions to join and withdraw from treaties are both aspects of the state’s treaty-making capacity. However, while international law provides a role for domestic legal requirements in the international validity of a state’s consent when joining a treaty, it is silent on this question in relation to treaty withdrawal.
This lecture will consider this issue in light of recent controversies concerning treaty withdrawal – including the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union, South Africa’s possible withdrawal from the International Criminal Court, and the threatened US denunciation of the Paris Agreement - and will propose that the law of treaties should be interpreted so as to develop international legal recognition for domestic rules on treaty withdrawal equivalent to that when states join treaties, such that a manifest violation of domestic law may invalidate a state’s treaty withdrawal in international law.
Dr Hannah Woolaver is an Associate Professor in International Law at the Public Law Department of the University of Cape Town. She is also a Visiting Fellow at the University of New South Wales, Australia. Prior to coming to UCT, Hannah was awarded an LLB (First Class) at the University of Durham, BCL (Distinction) at the University of Oxford, and PhD at St. John’s College, University of Cambridge. Her doctoral thesis examined the principles of equality of States and non-intervention in relation to failed, rogue, and undemocratic States in international law. She teaches public international law and international criminal law at undergraduate and postgraduate level, and also supervises postgraduate research in these areas. Hannah is a visiting scholar at the Lauterpacht Centre for the Michaelmas Term 2019.