Research Handbook on the Law of Treaties
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Research Handbook on the Law of Treaties

Edited by Christian J. Tams, Antonios Tzanakopoulos and Andreas Zimmermann

Offering a unique conceptual approach to the Law of Treaties this insightful Research Handbook not only sets out the foundational issues, but identifies tensions within the field, including formalism vs flexibility, integrity vs flexibility, and uniformity vs specialisation, to name a few. It seeks to define and re-define the dimensions in which Treaty law operates, tracing its fault-lines and the challenges it faces, such as breaches, regime-collisions, state succession and armed conflict. Representing a broad range of jurisdictional and ideological perspectives, the Research Handbook provides a diverse and stimulating approach to international treaties.
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Chapter 15: Responding to deliberately created treaty conflicts

Surabhi Ranganathan


What are treaty conflicts? Why do they arise? And, how should we – scholars, practitioners and students of international law – respond to them? Jasper Finke’s chapter in this Handbook answers the first of these questions, and offers partial answers to the other two. With respect to the first question, he introduces three frameworks within which we might understand treaty conflicts. Importantly, he reminds us not to take a narrow view of such conflicts as being problematic purely when they take the form of incompatibility between treaty obligations. On the second question, Finke suggests that many treaty conflicts are the result of increasing numbers of international legal agreements. And, on the third question, he focuses on methods of resolving treaty conflicts, exploring the role that principles of lex posterior, lex specialis and coordination may play. At the end of the chapter, however, Finke also notes that the ‘causes’ of treaty conflicts are multidimensional and ‘solutions’ to them must address them institutionally and substantially, responding to their political dimensions. The present chapter takes these concluding comments as its point of departure, to focus on some usually underexplored issues. The chapter first explains that treaty conflicts do not only arise due to the increasing numbers of international legal agreements; in many cases they are deliberately created. Section II furnishes several examples in support of the argument that States often deliberately use conflicting treaties as a strategy to challenge, or change, existing multilateral treaty-based regimes.

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