Are there any explicit provisions (such as in the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties) or traditions in international law that allow a country to partially, but not totally withdraw from a treaty, i.e. still comply with some treaty provisions while denouncing others, and still maintain that other signatories have (some) obligations under the treaty still?

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    there is no international law, because there's no World Parliament to pass it, and no World Government to enforce it. A country is only subject to conventions it chooses to be a party to, and can withdraw at any moment at its pleasure. For instance, Iran can withdraw from NPT at any moment. It's not a question of any non-existent fictional "law", only implied threats of consequent actions by other countries, whether enumerated in that treaty or not. And JCPOA was not a treaty anyway.
    – Genli Ai
    Commented Nov 9, 2019 at 22:31
  • And Japan can fish whales.
    – None
    Commented Nov 9, 2019 at 23:19
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    One can fish fish, but not fish whales. One can only whale whales. It is also possible to tune a piano, but not to tuna fish.
    – Obie 2.0
    Commented Nov 10, 2019 at 1:04
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    @GenliAi: While you are entitled to your skeptical views, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_law "International law differs from state-based legal systems in that it is primarily—though not exclusively—applicable to countries, rather than to individuals, and operates largely through consent, since there is no universally accepted authority to enforce it upon sovereign states. Consequently, states may choose to not abide by international law, and even to break a treaty." [continues] Commented Nov 10, 2019 at 3:18
  • "However, such violations, particularly of customary international law and peremptory norms (jus cogens), can be met with coercive action, ranging from military intervention to diplomatic and economic pressure." Commented Nov 10, 2019 at 3:21

1 Answer 1


Article 44(1) of the Vienna Convention of the Law of Treaties expressly forbids this:

A right of a party, provided for in a treaty or arising under article 56, to denounce, withdraw from or suspend the operation of the treaty may be exercised only with respect to the whole treaty unless the treaty otherwise provides or the parties otherwise agree.

  • This seems pretty self-evident to me; a treaty, boiled down to the basics, essentially says "Party A shall do X and Party B shall do Y, and... " and so on. If Party A stops doing X, they can't really expect Party B to continue to do Y under the terms of the treaty... Commented Nov 11, 2019 at 12:59

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