Drishtikon: State Responsibility under Paris Agreement — A “Legally Binding Treaty” or Not?

The Sangyan
23 min readMar 23, 2023

This article introduces the theme of the paper before going on and discussing the concept of State Responsibility, State Responsibility and the Environment, Withdrawal under International Law, the Legal Nature of the Paris Agreement, and ultimately, the concluding remarks.

Research Paper Cover in Black and Saffron background and white text, along with the logo of The Sangyan at the top-left of the cover. The cover provides the following details — “Drishtikon: State Responsibility under Paris Agreement — A “Legally Binding Treaty” or Not? — A Research Paper by Abhishek Kumar”.
Research Paper Cover

Introduction

Environmental degradation in the second half of the 20th century and this century has raised concerns regarding the world at large. This has resulted in the formation of customary international law that imposes several important fundamental obligations upon states in the area of environmental protection by creating a fundamental duty of every state to act for sustainable development and not to act as to injure the rights of other states.

In the Paris Agreement, the Parties further acknowledged that they should “when taking action to address climate change, respect, promote and consider their respective obligations on human rights,” including those owed to persons with disabilities (Preamble). In that respect, Paris Agreement is a key international legal instrument that recognises the disproportionate impact that climate change has on vulnerable communities, including persons with disabilities.

Paris Agreement acknowledges and states that “climate change is a common concern of humankind, Parties should when taking action to address climate change, respect, promote and consider their respective obligations on human rights, the right to health, the rights of indigenous peoples, local communities, migrants, children, persons with disabilities and people in vulnerable situations and the right to development, as well as gender equality, empowerment of women and intergenerational equity”.

In this respect, Paris Agreement is one milestone that creates a positive obligation upon the state parties to work towards environmental protection and casts legally responsible for its violation. However, many clouds are surrounding the legal character of the Paris Agreement, which primarily started after the catastrophic withdrawal by the Trump administration from the Paris Agreement on account of Climate Change as a hoax and propaganda by China. In the aftermath of these developments, there is an increasing concern regarding the legal character of the Paris Agreement.

In this research paper, the author will research the legal character of the Paris Agreement and the state responsibility it casts on the states parties to the agreement and non-party states. The scope of this paper will be limited to the state responsibility of the USA under the Paris Agreement after its withdrawal from the same.

Research Question

  1. What is the legal character of the Paris Agreement under international law, and does it create a legal obligation upon the state parties?
  2. Can the USA avoid its State Responsibility under aw after withdrawing from the Paris Agreement?
  3. Does the American withdrawal from the Paris Agreement follow international law?

Hypothesis

The USA continues to be responsible under Customary International Law, albeit with its withdrawal from the Paris Agreement.

State Responsibility

State Responsibility is the notion in the international law regime that symbolises the legal consequences of the wrongful act of international nature of a State actor, on the one hand, the legal obligations of the wrongdoer, while on the other hand, the rights and powers of any State affected by the wrongdoing’.[1] Article 1 of the International Law Commission’s Draft Articles on State Responsibility[2] states that ‘Every internationally wrongful act of a State entails the international responsibility of that State’. Such a state responsibility at all times emerges from the act or omission of a State-party and that subsequently constitutes a breach of an international obligation that is binding upon the State which is responsible for such internationally wrongful acts, where the formation of such state responsibility comes from the international treaties or conventions, customary, conventional international law, the general principle of international laws, and when the act or omission of the state in question can be attributed to the State under the international law regime, regardless of whether the same act or omission is lawful or unlawful within the domestic law domain. However, there has been no distinction created between contractual and non-contractual state responsibility since recent times, and segregation was constructed between two different types of internationally wrongful acts or omissions of a state, i.e., international crimes and international delicts. This differentiation between the two types of internationally wrongful conduct has been subjected to discussion in former versions of the Draft Articles on the ground that certain international obligations were sine qua non for the safeguarding of fundamental or basic interests and rights of the international community that any breach of such obligations should be treated as an international crime. Regardless of this, many international scholars considered the idea to be unjustifiable on the ground that, not merely because of the practical implausibility of implementation of penal sanction upon States responsible for internationally wrongful acts or omission.[3] Ergo, the said distinction crafted out of internationally wrongful conduct was cast off in 1998 by the ILC.

An international wrongful act or omission can be attributed to a State only where it has been carried out by a State organ, irrespective of ‘whether the said organ of the concerned state exercises the legislative, executive, judicial or some other state functions, and regardless of the position that it holds in the state organisation, and its nature as a state organ of the union government or as that of a federal government of the State’ (art. 4). The acts or omission of persons or an entities exercising part of the governmental authority is also attributable to the State and no principle of sovereign immunity can be taken for an excuse (art. 5) like it is the case with the acts or omission of the state organs placed at the disposal of a State by another State (art. 6). The State will not escape responsibility ‘even where the organ or individual exceeds its authority or contravenes instructions’ (art. 7).

There is a presumption that a State is not responsible for the acts of private individuals.[4] However, the conduct of an individual or group of individuals which is directed or controlled by a State (art. 8) and conduct by an individual or group of individuals which factually amounts to the exercise of governmental authority and which is carried out in the absence or default of the official authorities of a State (art. 9) are attributable to the State.

However, unsuccessful uprisings are not attributable to the State: ‘The principle that as a general rule a government is not responsible for injuries caused to aliens by members of an armed insurrection has been applied with great uniformity by international arbitral jurisprudence’.[5] A State is responsible for acts that it adopts as its own (art. 11).

A breach of an international obligation occurs when an act of a State is not in conformity with what is required of it by that obligation, regardless of its origin or character (arts. 12–15). A State can be held responsible for the acts of another State where it aids or assists in the commission of an internationally wrongful act (art. 16), where it directs and controls the commission of an internationally wrongful act by another State (art. 17), or where it coerces another State to commit an internationally wrongful act (art. 18). The wrongfulness of an act of a State is precluded where the wronged State consents to the conduct (art. 20), where the action is taken in self-defence in conformity with the U.N. Charter (art. 21), where the action is a valid countermeasure (art. 22), where the act is caused by force majeure (art. 23), where it is carried out in a condition of distress (art. 24), or where it is necessary to safeguard an essential interest of the State and does not impair an essential interest of the wronged State (art. 25). However, acts which are not in compliance with a peremptory norm of international law (jus cogens) cannot be excused: art. 26.

The legal consequences of a wrongful act are set out in the arts. 28–33, and include the continued duty to perform the obligation breached (art. 29), the duty to cease and not repeat the wrongful act (art. 30), the duty to pay reparation (art. 31), which shall include either singly or in combination (art. 34), restitution (art. 35), compensation (art. 36), satisfaction (art. 37), and shall include interest where necessary (art. 38). In the determination of reparation, the account can be taken of contributory negligence by the wronged State: art. 39.

Serious breaches of international law invoke the interest of all States in the breach, which ‘shall cooperate through a lawful means to an end the breach’: arts. 40 and 41. The process of invocation of the responsibility of a State is dealt with in the arts. 42–48. Finally, arts. 49–54 provides for the possibility of lawful countermeasures to be taken by the wronged State on the basis of proportionality. The I.L.C. Draft Articles are not legally binding in and of themselves. However, they are generally regarded as being reflective of customary international law.[6]

In the present context, every party state to the Paris Agreement has an obligation under international law as specific provisions of the convention constitute customary international law, and any violation of that would amount to an internationally wrongful act, and that casts international obligation under the principle of state responsibility. It’s a matter of fact that climate change has a negative impact on the planet earth, which has been a historical result of greenhouse gasses emissions by the western industrial and developed economies as the poor developing countries of the world like the Maldives, Mauritius, Marshals Island, et al are paying the cost of the acts of the countries like USA, UK et al historically and includes emerging economies like China and India, apart from the already developed nations. Further, the MNCs located in developed countries also emit an enormous amount of pollution and follow the Polluters Pay principle and the principle of Common but Differentiated Responsibility (CBDR) which creates an internationally wrongful act and creates state responsibility.

State Responsibility and the Environment

The basic duty of state parties to the United Nations is to protect and preserve global justice, world peace, and international security on Planet Earth[7] and Paris Climate Change Agreement is one leap step in that respect. The customary international law imposes several important fundamental obligations upon states in the area of environmental protection. The view that international law supports an approach predicated upon absolute territorial sovereignty so that a state could do as it liked, irrespective of the consequences upon other states, has long been discredited. The basic duty of states is not so to act to injure the rights of other states.[8] This duty has evolved partly out of the regime concerned with international waterways. In the International Commission on the River Oder case,[9] for example, the Permanent Court of International Justice categorically held that ‘this community of interest in a navigable river becomes the basis of a common legal right, the essential features of which are the perfect equality of all riparian states in the use of the whole course of the river and the exclusion of any preferential privileges of any riparian state in relation to others’.[10] But the principle is of far wider application. It was held in the Island of Palmas case[11] that the concept of territorial sovereignty incorporated an obligation to protect within the territory the rights of other states.

Even in the Trail Smelter arbitration case[12] over the Sulphur Dioxide pollution with its origin in Canada and caused environmental damage in the USA, the tribunal held Canada responsible. The International Court reinforced this approach by emphasising in the Corfu Channel case[13] that it was the obligation of every state ‘not to allow knowingly its territory to be used for acts contrary to the rights of other states’.[14] The Court also noted in the Request for an Examination of the Situation in Accordance with Paragraph 63 of the Nuclear Tests Case 1974 case in 1995 that its conclusion with regard to French nuclear testing in the Pacific was ‘without prejudice to the obligations of states to respect and protect the environment’.[15] In addition, in its Advisory Opinion to the UN General Assembly on the Legality of the Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons, the Court declared that ‘the existence of the general obligation of states to ensure that activities within their jurisdiction and control respect the environment of other states or areas beyond national control is now part of the corpus of international law relating to the environment’.[16]

The International Law Commission started considering 1978 the topic of ‘International Liability for the Injurious Consequences of Acts Not Prohibited by International Law’[17], and the main focus of the work of the Commission was on environmental harm.[18] It was argued that international liability differed from state responsibility in that the latter is dependent upon a prior breach of international law [19] while the former constitutes an attempt to develop a branch of law in which a state may be liable internationally with regard to the harmful consequences of an activity which is in itself not contrary to international law. This was a controversial approach. The theoretical basis and separation from state responsibility were questioned.[20] The ILC revised its work and eventually adopted Draft Articles on Prevention of Transboundary Harm from Hazardous Activities in 2001.[21]

The application of the classical international law approach, founded upon state responsibility for breaches of international obligations and the requirement to make reparation for such breaches, to environmental problems is particularly problematic. The need to demonstrate that particular damage has been caused to one state by the actions of another state means that this model can only, with difficulty, be applied to more than a small proportion of environmental problems. In many cases, it is simply impossible to prove that particular damage has been caused by one particular source, while this bilateral focus cannot really come to terms with the fact that the protection of the environment of the earth is truly a global problem requiring a global or pan-state response and one that cannot be successfully tackled in such an arbitrary and piecemeal fashion. Accordingly, the approach to dealing with environmental matters has shifted from the bilateral state responsibility paradigm to the establishment and strengthening of international co-operation.

Withdrawal Under International Law

Under international law, a nation may withdraw from any binding international agreement either in conformity with the provisions of the agreement — if the agreement permits withdrawal — or with the consent of all parties.[22] Most modern international agreements contain provisions allowing and specifying the conditions of withdrawal and may require a period of advance notice before the withdrawal becomes effective.[23] Even when an agreement does not contain an express withdrawal clause, international law still permits withdrawal if the parties intend to allow a right of withdrawal or if there is an implied right to do so in the text of the agreement.[24] In those cases, under the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties (Vienna Convention), the withdrawing party must give 12 months’ notice of its intent to depart from the agreement.[25] In addition, certain superseding events, such as a material breach by one party or a fundamental change in circumstances, may give rise to a right to withdraw.[26]

Under the Vienna Convention, treaties and other binding international agreements may be terminated through

“[a]ny act declaring invalid, terminating, withdrawing from or suspending the operation of a treaty pursuant to the provisions of the treaty … through an instrument communicated to the other parties. If the instrument is not signed by the Head of State, Head of Government or Minister for Foreign Affairs, the representative of the State communicating it may be called upon to produce full powers.”[27]

Under this rule, a notice of withdrawal issued by the President (i.e., the “Head of State” for the United States) would effectively withdraw the United States from the international agreement as a matter of international law, providing such notice complied with applicable treaty withdrawal provisions.[28] In this regard, the withdrawal process under international law may not account for the unique constitutional and separation of powers principles related to withdrawal under U.S. domestic law, discussed below.

Political commitments are not legally binding between nations, and thus a party can withdraw at any time without violating international law[29], regardless of whether the commitment contains a withdrawal clause.[30] Although such withdrawal may not constitute a legal infraction, the withdrawing party still may face the possibility of political consequences and responsive actions from its international counterparts.

As far as international law is concerned, however, there is little question that the United States is currently bound by its acceptance. The law of treaties is most famous for the foundational principle pacta sunt servanda, or as VCLT Art. 26 puts it, “Every treaty in force is binding upon the parties to it and must be performed by them in good faith.” It is important to note that although the United States never joined the “treaty on treaties”, every Administration since Richard Nixon’s has regarded almost all of its provisions as customary international law (the exceptions being provisions on signature and consultations in the event of a breach).

Thus, to withdraw or otherwise end its obligations under the Paris Agreement, the United States will have to look to the law of treaties. Indeed, VCLT Article 42 provides that a treaty’s validity or a State’s consent can only be impeached through the VCLT’s application and, more pertinently, “[t]he termination of a treaty, its denunciation or the withdrawal of a party, may take place only as a result of the application of the provisions of the treaty or of the present Convention.”

The Paris Agreement only permits a state to withdraw three years after the Agreement enters into force for that state. The withdrawal then takes effect a year later (Article 28). The US will remain a Party to the Paris Agreement until at least November 2020. Daniel Bodansky points out that as long as the US is a party to the Paris Agreement, which will be until 2020, it is bound to perform its commitments under the treaty in good faith.

Some commentators advocated for withdrawal from the parent treaty to the Paris Agreement — the UNFCCC — as a more expedient method of exiting the Paris Agreement.[31] Article 28 of the Paris agreement provides that any party withdrawing from the UNFCCC shall also be considered to have withdrawn from the Paris Agreement. The UNFCCC has nearly identical withdrawal requirements to the Paris Agreement,[32] but because the UNFCCC entered into force in 1994,[33] the three-year withdrawal prohibition expired in 1997. Therefore withdrawal from both the parent treaty and the subsidiary Paris Agreement could be accomplished within one year. The Trump Administration, however, has not announced that it intends to take action with respect to the UNFCCC. Therefore, at present, the United States remains a party to the subsidiary Paris Agreement until Article 28’s withdrawal procedure is complete — albeit one that has announced its intention to withdraw once it is eligible to do so.

Legal Nature of the Paris Agreement

From beginning to end, the issue of legal nature or character has been a principal issue in the whole environmental negotiations surrounding Paris Agreement. The Paris Agreement is an international legal treaty within the meaning of the “Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties”, but not all the provisions of the Paris Agreement construct a legal obligation upon the state parties. It includes a mixture of various mandatory and non-mandatory provisions pertaining to the mitigation contribution of state parties, in addition to the various additional ingredients of the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action on Climate Change of 2011, which includes the finance and adaptation aspect of the agreement.[34] Legally binding instruments apply only to those states that have expressed their consent to be bound by means of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession.[35]

The 2015 Paris Agreement, a product of a deeply discordant political context rife with fundamental and seemingly irresolvable differences between Parties, is an unusual Agreement. It contains a mix of hard, soft and non-obligations, the boundaries between which are blurred, but each plays a distinct and valuable role.[36] The vast majority of Parties were keen that the 2015 agreement, many years in the making, take the form of a legally binding instrument. A legally binding instrument signals the highest expression of political will. Legally binding instruments have several attributes that make them attractive to certain states in the UNFCCC process. As many scholars have noted, legally binding instruments generate credible commitments.[37]

They have the potential to crystallise international commitments into domestic legislative action, thereby co-opting domestic enforcement mechanisms and generating predictability and certainty in implementation as well as accountability at the domestic and international levels. These effects are generated through the doctrinal operation of international law in some domestic legal orders and also because binding international agreements ‘communicate[s] expectations’, ‘produce[s] reliance’, and generate[s] a compliance pull.[38] And their violation entails higher reputational costs for States. Such commitments also typically survive domestic political changes.[39] However, legally binding instruments also entail significant real and perceived ‘sovereignty costs’[40] for States. States may lose autonomy over decision-making in the regulated areas and expose national processes to international scrutiny.[41] Nevertheless, by the time the Parties arrived in Paris, there was an emerging consensus that the 2015 Paris Agreement would take the form of a legally binding instrument.

One may not categorically state the question regarding the legally binding nature or character of the Paris Agreement issue. The creation and treatment of the Paris agreement as a legally binding nature provide a considerable indicator of the state’s commitment and assurance of compliance with the Paris Agreement. However, in terms of transparency and accountability, this can also make an important difference, and therefore, the legal bindingness character of the Paris Agreement can be a slippery slope in case it leads the party states not to participate or to make less ambitious commitments.

Parties agreed to a legally binding 2015 Agreement on the understanding that it would contain various provisions varying in legal character, some with greater legal force and authority than others.[42] The Paris Agreement contains provisions spread across the spectrum of legal character. The majority of ‘hard obligations’ in the Paris Agreement relate to mitigation and transparency. Indeed, the only individual (each Party) obligations, framed in mandatory terms (shall), with no qualifying or discretionary elements, occur in relation to mitigation and transparency.[43] The spread of provisions in the Paris Agreement — the relatively hard obligations on mitigation and transparency, the softer obligations on adaptation, finance, technology, and capacity building, and the presence of several non-obligations — can be traced to a fundamental disagreement between Parties on the scope of the Agreement.

Going with the wording of the Paris Agreement, the very fact that it’s an Agreement and not a Protocol casts the shadow of doubt over the intention of the framers of the Agreement in respect of its legal character of bindingness. Thus, the matter revolving around the legal character or nature of the Paris Agreement, even though it has importance, the issue is merely one of the factors in assessing the importance of the Paris Agreement outcome.[44] Richard Falk categorically argues that ‘the Paris Agreement went to great lengths to avoid obligating the parties’.[45] Context setting, mutual reassurances, and political narratives perform a critical function in shaping the key contours and in blurring the boundaries between law and non-law of the international treaties; however, in that they generate a shared understanding that underpins the cascading levels of treaty obligations in the Agreement and tells about its purpose.[46]

The definition of treaties explicitly provides that ‘whatever its particular designation’, if it satisfies other requirements of being a treaty, it is a treaty. Anthony Aust argues that it is not the name that determines the status of the instrument but rather whether the negotiating states intended the instrument to be binding (or not) in international law.[47]

The Paris Agreement is a treaty, as defined in the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties.[48] It is titled the ‘Paris Agreement’ rather than the Paris Protocol, in deference to US sensitivities.[49] In any case, its nomenclature is legally irrelevant.26 The Paris Agreement will apply to those states that have expressed their consent to be bound by means of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession.[50] Parties may not make reservations to the Agreement [51] and may withdraw by fulfilling specific procedural requirements.[52]

The Paris Agreement, a product of a deeply discordant political context rife with fundamental and seemingly irresolvable differences between Parties, is an unusual Agreement. It contains a carefully calibrated mix of hard, soft and non-obligations, the boundaries between which are blurred. Each of these types of obligations plays a distinct and valuable role. The ‘hard obligations’ of conduct in mitigation and finance, in conjunction with a rigorous oversight system, form the core of the Paris Agreement. The ‘soft obligations’ peppered throughout the instrument in relation to mitigation, adaptation, and means of implementation create good faith expectations of Parties. And the non-obligations, albeit unusual in operational provisions of treaties, provide valuable context, construct narratives and offer mutual reassurances. This delicate and unusual mix of obligations (hard and soft) and non-obligations — years in the making — was crucial in delivering the Paris Agreement. It remains to be seen if this mix of obligations will deliver us from climate change.[53]

Concluding Remarks

The legal character of the Paris Agreement cannot be ascertained precisely as it’s not very clear from the wording of the agreement with respect to whether the agreement is meant to be a voluntary agreement or more than that. Also, as the state responsibility that it casts on the states parties to the agreement and non-party states depends upon the legal character of the Paris Agreement, it can be summed up that Paris Agreement cannot be made a binding legal treaty that casts state responsibility over the USA as the except, for specific provisions incorporated under the Paris Agreement, others don’t form a part of Customary International law.

In the context of the Paris Agreement, the overwhelming support received from almost all countries and the commitments made over the course of the last three years indicate a strong prevalence of custom. The fact that almost all nations, regardless of their level of economic development or political stability or other internal struggles, have come together to take action against climate change shows the rapid development of customary practice. Hence, the fundamental provisions of the Paris Agreement have acquired the status of customary international law. Therefore, even non-signatory countries are under a legal obligation to abide by these customary principles, regardless of the obligations stipulated under the Paris Agreement.

The legal character of the Paris Agreement under international law is somewhat uncertain. However, specific provisions of the Paris Agreement, which has acquired the status of customary international law, do create a legal obligation upon the state parties to it and those which are not state parties. Thus, the USA cannot avoid its Environmental State Responsibility under international law despite withdrawing from the Paris Agreement. The American withdrawal from the Paris Agreement is not in accordance with international law and does cast an obligation upon them to uphold the purpose and objectives of the Paris Agreement. Ergo, the USA continues to be responsible under Customary International Law, albeit with its withdrawal from the Paris Agreement.

In conclusion, although Trump’s steadfast opposition to consequently the US withdrawal from the Agreement could have a short-term impact on the fight against global warming, in the long run, the US status as a signatory or non-signatory will come largely redundant as it will be obligated to conform to customary international law principles emerging as the global norm from the Paris Agreement.

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References

[1] Cassese, International Law (2nd ed.), 241.

[2] [2001] II I.L.C. Yearbook 26.

[3] Gilbert, The Criminal Responsibility of States, (1990) 39 I.C.L.Q. 345.

[4] Spanish Zone of Morocco Claims (1924) 2 R.I.A.A. 615 at 642 and 2 R.I.A.A. 730; Home Missionary Society Case (1920) 6 R.I.A.A. 42; Pinson Case (1928) 5 R.I.A.A. 325.

[5] [1975] II I.L.C. Yearbook 93ff.

[6] See Eagleton, The Responsibility of States in International Law ( 1928 ); Brownlie, System of the Law of Nations: State Responsibility (1983); Randelzhofer, State Responsibility and the Individual ( 1999 ); Crawford, The International Law Commission’s Articles on State Responsibility: Introduction, Text and Commentaries ( 2002 ); Provost, State Responsibility in International Law ( 2002 ).

[7] B. D. Smith, State Responsibility and the Marine Environment, Oxford (1988); R. Lefeber, Transboundary Environmental Interference and the Origin of State Liability, Dordrecht (1996).

[8] V. P. Nanda, International Environmental Law and Policy, New York, 1995, pp. 155–6.

[9] PCIJ, Series A, №23 (1929); 5 AD, p. 83.

[10] PCIJ, Series A, №23 (1929), p. 27; 5 AD, p. 84. See also the case concerning the Auditing of Accounts between the Netherlands and France, arbitral award of 12th March 2004, para. 97.

[11] 2 RIAA, pp. 829, 839 (1928).

[12] 33 AJIL, 1939, p. 182 and 35 AJIL, 1941, p. 684.

[13] ICJ Reports, 1949, pp. 4, 22; 16 AD, pp. 155, 158.

[14] Lac Lanoux case, 24 ILR, p. 101.

[15] ICJ Reports, 1995, pp. 288, 306; 106 ILR, pp. 1, 28.

[16] Gabˇc´ıkovo–Nagymaros Project case, ICJ Reports, 1997, pp. 6, 67; 116 ILR, p. 1.

[17] Yearbook of the ILC, 1978, Vol. II, Part 2, p. 149.

[18] Quentin-Baxter’s preliminary report, Yearbook of the ILC, 1980, vol. II, part 1, p. 24.

[19] Boyle, ‘State Responsibility’, p. 3, and I. Brownlie, System of the Law of Nations: State Responsibility, Part I, Oxford, 1983, p. 50.

[20] I. Brownlie, System of the Law of Nations: State Responsibility, Part I, Oxford, 1983, p. 50.

[21] Report of the ILC on its 53rd Session, p. 379.

[22] VCLT, art. 54.

[23] Paris Agreement, art. 28; United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, art. 25, May 9, 1992, S. Treaty Doc. №102–38, 1771 U.N.T.S. 107. Laurence R. Helfer, Exiting Treaties, 91 VA. L. REV. 1579, 1597–98 (2005).

[24] Congressional Research Service, Treaties And Other International Agreements: The Role of The United States Senate, S. Rept. 192–206 (2001)

[25] VCLT, art. 56.

[26] VCLT, arts. 60–64.

[27] VCLT, art. 67.

[28] VCLT, art. 67.

[29] Congressional Research Service, Treaties And Other International Agreements: The Role of The United States Senate, S. Rept. 192–206 (2001) at 59.

[30] Duncan B. Hollis, Unpacking the Compact Clause, 88 TEX. L. REV. 741, 791 (2010).

[31] Steven Groves, Brett Schaefer And Nicolas Loris, The U.S. Should Withdraw From The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Backgrounder №3130 (Heritage Foundation June 9, 2016), Available at: http://thf-reports.s3.amazonaws.com/2016/BG3130.pdf.> Accessed on May 13th 2018.

[32] UNFCCC, art. 25.

[33] United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Status of Ratification of the Convention (May 1, 2018), https://unfccc.int/process/the-convention/news-and-updates

[34] Daniel Bodansky, The Legal Character of the Paris Agreement, RECIEL 25 (2) 2016.

[35] VCLT, art. 11.

[36] Lavanya Rajamani, The 2015 Paris Agreement: Interplay Between Hard, Soft and Non-Obligations, Journal of Environmental Law, 2016, 28, 337–358.

[37] Kenneth Abbott and Duncan Snidal, ‘Hard and Soft Law in International Governance’ [2000] 54 Intl Org 421, 426.

[38] Dinah Shelton, ‘Introduction’ in Dinah Shelton (ed), Commitment and Compliance: The Role of Non-Binding Norms in the International Legal System (OUP 2000) 8.

[39] Jake Werksman, ‘The Legal Character of International Environmental Obligations in the Wake of the Paris Climate Change Agreement’ (Brodies Environmental Law Lecture Series 2016).

[40] Ibid.

[41] Kenneth Abbott and Duncan Snidal, ‘Hard and Soft Law in International Governance’ [2000] 54 Intl Org 421, 426.

[42] Lavanya Rajamani, The 2015 Paris Agreement: Interplay Between Hard, Soft and Non-Obligations, Journal of Environmental Law, 2016, 28, 337–358.

[43] Paris Agreement, arts. 4 (2), 4 (9), 4 (17), 13 (7) and 13 (11).

[44] Daniel Bodansky, The Legal Character of the Paris Agreement, RECIEL 25 (2) 2016.

[45] Richard Falk, ‘Voluntary” International Law and the Paris Agreement’, Available at: <https://richardfalk.wordpress.com/2016/01/16/voluntary-international-law-and-the-paris-agreement/> Accessed on 24 April 2018.

[46] Richard Gardiner, Treaty Interpretation (2nd ed, OUP 2015) 194.

[47] Anthony Aust, Modern Treaty Law and Practice (3rd edn, CUP 2013) 23.

[48] VCLT, art. 1(a).

[49] Lavanya Rajamani, ‘The Devilish Details: Key Legal Issues in the 2015 Climate Negotiations’ (2015) 78 MLR 835.

[50] Paris Agreement, art. 20.

[51] Ibid, art. 27.

[52] Ibid, art. 28.

[53] Lavanya Rajamani, The 2015 Paris Agreement: Interplay Between Hard, Soft and Non-Obligations, Journal of Environmental Law, 2016, 28, 337–358.

Prepared by

Abhishek Kumar, National Law University, Delhi [2015–2020], NCPEDP-Javed Abidi Fellow on Disability, and Curator, The Sangyan.

This article was submitted at National Law University, Delhi, as a curriculum requirement, along with some timely updates in March 2023. The author can be reached at abhishek.ncpedp@gmail.com and abhishek.kumar15@nludelhi.ac.in

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