Article Title

The New Treaty Makers


Jose E. Alvarez

Document Type

Symposium Article


The "erosion of sovereignty" that is said to characterize globalization is not generally associated with any deviation from the fundamental principle that states must freely consent before they can be said to be bound by any international agreement. With few exceptions, as with respect to Iraq in the wake of the Gulf War, states are rarely told that they must adhere to any particular treaty-despite emerging notions of "global governance." The initiation and conclusion of modern treaties is still generally seen as the affirmation of sovereignty, rather than its diminution. Modern treaties, the only source of international obligation said to emerge from conscious attempts to make law and still requiring the unambiguous, genuine consent of states, remain the embodiment of sovereignty as classically understood. This Article challenges this view by examining how international organizations have altered the methods by which treaty negotiations are initiated as well as the final results achieved through such negotiations. If state sovereignty has been "eroded" or transformed in the wake of World War II, the new forms of treaty making and the new treaty makers are part of that story.