The Budapest Memorandum of 5 December 1994: Political Engagement or Legal Obligation?
Polish Yearbook of International Law, Vol. 34 (2014), pp. 89-114
30 Pages Posted: 2 Nov 2015
Date Written: July 3, 2015
Ukraine, upon giving up the nuclear arsenal left on its territory by the USSR, entered in 1994 into a Memorandum on Security Assurances with the United Kingdom, United States and Russian Federation (Budapest Memorandum). Since the crisis began between the Russian Federation and Ukraine in February 2014, a number of States have invoked the Budapest Memorandum. Unclear however is whether this instrument constituted legal obligations among its Parties or, instead, is a political declaration having no legal effect. The distinction between political instruments and legal instruments is a recurring question in inter-State relations and claims practice. The present article considers the Budapest Memorandum in light of the question of general legal interest – namely, how do we distinguish between the legal and the political instrument?
Keywords: treaties, legal obligations, political commitments, use of force, international security, non-proliferation and disarmament, general rule of interpretation, supplementary means of interpretation, subsequent practice, treaty text, treaty context, object and purpose, Budapest Memorandum
JEL Classification: K33
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation