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This week, AJIL Unbound launches an exploration into The End of Treaties? Our intention is to explore a variety of issues related to the possible decline in formal treaties as a mechanism of cooperation in international law. Are treaties in decline as a form of international cooperation? Possible evidence for such a decline includes the rise of soft law commitments, intergovernmental networks, hybrid governance arrangements, and other less formal cooperation schemes, as well as unilateral denunciations of some treaties (such as BITs and the ICSID Convention) and threats of withdrawals from others (African nations and the ICC, for example). In addition, major multilateral negotiations in the trade and environmental protection regimes are stalled, and the leading UN entity in charge of the progressive development and codification of international law, the International Law Commission, is now generating draft articles or studies in lieu of draft conventions. There is also a domestic challenge to treaty power in the United States, embodied in Bond v. U.S., and the continuing unwillingness of the Senate to give advice and consent to what are widely viewed as noncontroversial treaties. Are treaties really in decline? If so what are the implications for international cooperation and international law? What is the role of global power shifts in explaining decline? Is there regional and national variation in propensity to adopt treaties? Are there any signs of 'the return of the treaty'?
We look forward to your comments on our inquiry.