Nonbinding International Agreements: Is There a Need for Greater Transparency and Accountability?

Add to Calendar 2023-09-29 09:00:00 2023-09-29 17:00:00 Nonbinding International Agreements: Is There a Need for Greater Transparency and Accountability? Event details: The University of Chicago Center in Paris Paris - FR University of Chicago Law School America/Chicago public

The University of Chicago Center in Paris
6 rue Thomas Mann
75013 Paris

By invitation only

This conference, which is being organized by Professor Curtis Bradley of the University of Chicago Law School and Professor Mathias Forteau of Université Paris Ouest, will explore the implications of the rise of nonbinding international agreements, especially with respect to issues of transparency and accountability. Many observers have perceived an increase in the use by states of nonbinding agreements, both with other states and with international organizations. This phenomenon may facilitate greater cooperation by offering additional flexibility, but it may also present challenges for both domestic and international law, which generally regulates only binding arrangements. For example, domestic rules for legislative notice and participation, and for public transparency, may not apply if an agreement is nonbinding. In the United States, Congress recently responded to this potential gap by mandating new transparency requirements. Agreements that are nonbinding may also avoid a variety of international law rules, while at the same time potentially generating international legal effects. As a matter of international relations, there is also a danger that states will have conflicting views about whether an agreement is or is not binding, especially if states have different drafting practices. The participants in this conference, which include a mix of legal scholars and government attorneys, will address these and related issues, from both national and international perspectives. The national dimensions of this topic are part of the emerging field of comparative foreign relations law that has been developed in recent work by Professor Bradley and others.

This event is held on September 29, 2023 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. CET (Paris)


Jean d’Aspremont (Science Po School of Law, France)

Danae Azaria (University College London Faculty of Laws, United Kingdom)

Curtis Bradley (University of Chicago Law School, United States)

Charles-Emmanuel Côté (Université Laval Faculty of Law, Quebec, Canada)

Mathias Forteau (Université Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense, France)

Duncan Hollis (Temple Law School, United States)

Andrew Keller (Chief Democratic Counsel, U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, United States)

Thomas Kleinlein (Universtät Jena Faculty of Law, Germany)

Oona Hathaway (Yale Law School, United States)

Arabella Lang (Head of Research, Public Law Project, United Kingdom)

Lauri Mälksoo (University of Tartu School of Law, Estonia)

Mario Mendez (Queen Mary University of London School of Law, United Kingdom)

Andrea Ott (Maastricht University Law Faculty, Netherlands)

Paolo Palchetti (Université Paris 1 Panthéon/Sorbonne, France)

Roland Portmann (Public International Law Section, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Switzerland)

Noortje van Rijssen (Legal Counsel at the International Law Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Netherlands)

Thius Vogel (Ministry of Justice, Germany)

Michael Waibel (University of Vienna, Austria)

Hannah Woolaver (University of Cape Town, South Africa)

Jan Wouters (KU Leuven Institute for International Law, Belgium)

Program Agenda

  • 29 September 2023
    • Session I: The Phenomenon of Nonbinding International Agreements
      • -
      • Curtis Bradley & Oona Hathaway: Choosing Between Binding and Nonbinding Instruments Under International and Domestic Law

        Duncan Hollis: Delimiting “Agreements”

        Andrea Ott: A Rabbit or a Duck? –The EU’s and MemberStates’ Interlinked Practice in Nonbinding Arrangements

        Jan Wouters: Informal International Lawmaking Under the Radar: Challenges of Accountability and Transparency

        Moderator: Mathias Forteau

    • Session II: Legal Effects of Nonbinding International Agreements
      • -
      • Danae Azaria: The Indirect Legal Effects of Non-Binding Agreements and State Silence

        Jean d’Aspremont: Non-Binding Agreements in International Law: Dualist Thinking Continued

        Paolo Palchetti: What Legal Effects Can be Attached to a Non-Binding Agreement Concluded by a State in Violation

        of a Provision of its Internal Law Regarding Competence to Conclude Such Agreements?

        Moderator: Oona Hathaway

    • Session III: National and Subnational Practice Relating to Nonbinding International Agreements
      • -
      • Charles-Emmanuel Côté: Nonbinding International Agreements of Subnational Units and Framework Agreements: Insights from the Practice of Canada

        Thomas Kleinlein & Thius Vogel: Non-Binding International Agreements in the Practice of the German Länder

        Roland Portmann: Participation of Parliament in Soft Law Instruments: The Discussion in Switzerland

        Noortje van Rijssen: Discussion Paper on the Transparency of International Policy Arrangements in the Netherlands

        Moderator: Duncan Hollis

    • Session IV: Improving Transparency and Accountability
      • -
      • Andrew Keller: Senate Foreign Relations Committee Report, Enhancing Transparency on International Agreements and Non-Binding Instruments

        Arabella Lang: The UK-Rwanda Asylum MoU: Problems of Transparency, Accountability and Rights

        Mario Mendez: Enhancing Transparency and Accountability for NBIAs in the UK

        Hannah Woolaver: Judicial Review of Non-Binding International Agreements in South Africa

        Moderator: Curtis Bradley

    • Dinner for Participants
      • Anco, 108 rue de Bercy, Paris