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Osminin B.I. Undertaking and Implementation of International Treaty Obligations by Federal States

Published in journal "Journal of Foreign Legislation and Comparative Law", 2015-3 , pages 455-464.

Resume: If a state has a federal structure constituent units might be included in domestic legal processes relating to treaty-making. Such units might be directly involved, i.e. where the federal authorities conclude the treaty at the international level, constituent units might possess certain powers in relation to the process at the domestic legal level. They may indirectly influence the domestic legal process where they constitute a legislative chamber, whose consent to certain treaties is necessary. Domestic law in certain federal states provides for constituent units to be involved in the process leading to the conclusion of treaties by the federal government. In a first group of states there is a requirement for consultation with constituent units in matters within their exclusive jurisdiction or if their interests may be affected. In other countries there is no legal obligation in this respect, but in practice the constituent units are consulted before the signing of treaties that may affect their powers. In a third group of states there is no legal provisions for constituent units to be consulted and the federal government is in contacts with them only for political and not for legal reasons. The performance of treaties by federal states can give rise to special problems. Although article 29 of Vienna convention on the law of treaties provides that, unless there is a different intention, a treaty is binding upon each party in respect of its entire territory, it may be difficult in some federal states for the federal government to ensure that a treaty is fully implemented in all constituent units. This may be because under a federal constitution certain powers are often shared with constituent units. If the units have to legislate there could be delays or even obstruction. The federal constitution may therefore provide for such matters to be vested exclusively in the federal government when powers have to be exercised in performance of a treaty obligation.

Keywords: federal states, constituent units, allocation of powers, mixed treaties, federal state clause, law of treaties, domestic legal processes, substitution mechanism, international treaty obligations, international responsibility.

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