In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section The Law of Treaties

  • Introduction
  • Textbooks
  • General Overviews
  • Encyclopedias
  • Notion of Treaty
  • Treaty and Custom
  • Capability to Conclude Treaties (Ius Ad Tractatum)
  • Treaty-Making Procedure/Treaty Formation
  • Treaty-Making Power and Domestic Law
  • Integration of Treaties in the Domestic Legal System and Their Implementation/Enforcement
  • Time and Territorial Factors in Treaties’ Application
  • State Succession in Respect of Treaties
  • Revision, Amendment, and Treaty Succession

International Law The Law of Treaties
Antonio Remiro Brotons
  • LAST REVIEWED: 23 March 2012
  • LAST MODIFIED: 23 March 2012
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199796953-0034


The Law of Treaties is a set of international and national rules that governs the life of treaties from their formation to termination, passing through all their effects and disturbances. The majority of international rules have been codified by conventions of universal vocation, the most important of which is the Convention on the Law of Treaties concluded between states (Vienna, 23 May 1969). The content of the convention is comprehensive but not exhaustive. It covers only interstate relations and excludes issues such as the international responsibility for noncompliance, the effects of the outbreak of hostilities, and state succession in respect of treaties. The conventional relations between states and international organizations and between different international organizations are regulated by the convention of 21 March 1986, which conforms to the 1969 convention. Besides, the succession of states in respect of treaties is the subject of the convention of 23 August 1978. Customary rules are applicable to all issues that fall outside the scope of application of these conventions. The dispositive character of a number of international norms and their references to domestic law explain the existence of numerous national provisions applicable to treaties. Treaties have existed since political communities have been willing to interact peacefully and are the best sources of rights and obligations. The coexistence and cooperation among international subjects rests substantially upon them. The progressive expansion of their material objects has been accompanied by a growing technical complexity.


All the textbooks and general works on international law deal with the Law of Treaties, to a greater or lesser extent. Turning to the textbooks is recommended for primary source material. For this purpose, one would propose Jennings and Watts 1992, Brownlie 2008, Shaw 2008, Evans 2010, and Aust 2010. In French, Daillier, et al. 2009 is a good source, and in Spanish, Remiro Brotóns, et al. 2007. Within this section see Kolb 2003 on the General Courses/Cours Générales of The Hague Academy of International Law, taught in French before World War II and in French and English afterward.

  • Aust, Anthony. Handbook of International Law. 2d ed. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2010.

    A good introduction to the subject for students, because it ensures essential knowledge of basic elements of international law. Its approach is pedagogic and practical, focused on the basic theoretical questions as well as on solving day-to-day problems. First edition published in 2005.

  • Brownlie, Ian. Principles of Public International Law. 7th ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008.

    This is surely the most popular English textbook worldwide, with translations into Russian, Japanese, Portuguese, Korean, and Chinese. It is indispensable for students, scholars, and practitioners involved in the study and application of international law. First edition published in 1966.

  • Daillier, Patrick, Mathias Forteau, and Alain Pellet. Droit International Public. 8th ed. Paris: Librairie Générale de Droit et de Jurisprudence, 2009.

    Appearing for the first time in 1975, this treatise presents a complete panorama of international law that is simple and comprehensive. Devoting more than two hundred pages to the Law of Treaties, it responds to the needs of students and practitioners of international law as well as all those interested in international law.

  • Evans, Malcolm D., ed. International Law. 3d ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010.

    This fresh volume offers an open-minded and up-to-date presentation of the essential elements of the international legal system in a clear and accessible fashion for undergraduates. The chapter on treaties is by Melgosia Fitzmaurice. Chapters written by Thirlway, Boyle, Shelton, and Denza are also relevant. Originally published in 2003.

  • Jennings, Robert, and Sir Arthur Watts, eds. Oppenheim’s International Law. 9th ed. 2 vols. Harlow, UK: Longman, 1992.

    A classic reference treatise, previously revised by Sir Hersch Lauterpacht (8th ed., 1955) and updated in 1992. It is an excellent guide that provides answers to any inquiry on international law and is very helpful for teachers and practitioners but also for students who desire to learn about the topic in greater detail.

  • Kolb, Robert. Les Cours Généraux de Droit International Public de l’Académie de La Haye. Brussels: Bruylant, 2003.

    An annotated summary of all general courses delivered at The Hague Academy of International Law from 1929 to 1999, either in English or French. Provides guidance on courses that demand more attention or, in the words of the prologue, “whet the appetite of the reader.”

  • Remiro Brotóns, Antonio, et al. Derecho Internacional. Valencia, Spain: Tirant lo Blanch, 2007.

    This treatise, which covers all the fundamental institutions of international law, devotes more than three hundred pages to the Law of Treaties. It offers extensive bibliographical references. The publication of a general course offers a text more accessible to undergraduates.

  • Shaw, Malcom N. International Law. 6th ed. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2008.

    Shaw’s extensive work is regarded in the tradition canon as a comprehensive and authoritative introduction to the subject. It devotes one hundred pages to treaty law scattered in various chapters. It is a source of reference for students and practitioners, and should be interesting for lawyers and international officials.

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