Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Law (SJD)



First Advisor

Professor Dr. Christian Okeke

Second Advisor

Professor Dr. Aileen Huang

Third Advisor

Professor Dr. Eustace Azubuike


The crisis of non-performance of international treaties in international law constitutes a fundamental challenge to the main foundation of international law, which ought not to be ignored. With treaty being a key source of international law, is it expedient that we pay attention to non-performance of treaty obligations, less we undermine the integrity of international law. Enforcing the performance of international treaties can be challenging due to the decentralized nature of the international legal system and the principles of state sovereignty. The law of treaties by itself doesn’t seem to provide much forum for responsibility for non-performance of treaties and that is one of the reasons the ILC draft articles on responsibility of states for internationally wrongful acts is very important.

The onus of treaty performance continues to remain Pacta sunt servanda, which reflects that states are bound to fulfill their commitments under a treaty. This general principle of law underlies the entire system of treaty-based relations between subjects of international law. This is why one of the first references to Pacta sunt servanda in an international legal instrument, was made in the Vienna Convention of the law of treaties. This principle implies that states are meant to take necessary steps to see to compliance of their treaty obligations without invoking any restrictions, except those allowed by law.

Howbeit, good faith has its limits in enforcing obligation as change is bound to sometimes occur, which could alter the desire or ability to perform. The formation of the rules of state responsibility and more so the circumstances precluding wrongfulness conceptualized therein expanded the range of opportunities for adapting to future developments. Also, the formation of specialized treaty regimes raises various questions as to the applicability of the law of state responsibility as a provision of general international law to specialized treaty regimes such as human right conventions.

Therefore, this dissertation analyses and discusses the connection between the law of treaties and the law of international responsibility, attempting to examine certain selected issues that significantly and negatively impact the performance of treaty obligations. The aim of this study is to uphold the sanctity of the treaty system in international law. The issues selected for discussion will include the functional separation of the law of treaties and the law of state responsibility: Is the functional separation between the law of treaties and the law of international responsibility airtight or is it porous, and does it matter? Can the formal distinction be maintained and if so, to what end? Furthermore, to what extent do treaties containing specific provisions on secondary rules exclude the application of the general rules of international responsibility? And what role does the law of responsibility have (if any) in respect to treaties within specialized regimes such as that set up their own compliance mechanisms, or if a state enters into an international agreement with a non-state actor and either party breaches the agreement, as well as questions on the applicability of the rules of state responsibility to human right conventions

Using other sources of international law, particularly case law, this dissertation will analyze the problems arising between the two institutions as it pertains to performance of treaty obligations. The methodology to be utilized will entail utilizing historical and comparative study, conducting doctrinal research for deeper understanding of sources of international law, and conducting doctrinal research on secondary rules, to achieve both general comparative research and for further research on the development of the integrity of the law of treaties leading to significantly more scenarios or avenues for better performance of treaty obligations.