30 Pages Posted: 21 Mar 2003 Last revised: 18 Jul 2012

See all articles by Edward T. Swaine

Edward T. Swaine

George Washington University Law School

Date Written: 2003


Widespread objections to the apparently unprecedented decision by the United States to "unsign" the treaty establishing the International Criminal Court reflect concerns particular to that treaty and to U.S. involvement in international affairs. But the controversy also illuminates a genuine problem in the formation of multilateral treaties. The interim obligation for signatories, often understood as a means for maintaining a vestigial role for signature, should also be considered as an incomplete answer to ex post and ex ante commitment problems observable in the treaty context and elsewhere - incomplete, in part, because signatories can effectively withdraw from their obligations without the delay imposed by withdrawal provisions on those states that have completed ratification. After examining the effect of various possible limits to unsigning, the paper proposes ways of reducing the exit gap between withdrawal mechanisms and unsigning that would diminish any strategic opportunities created by this emerging practice.

Suggested Citation

Swaine, Edward, Unsigning (2003). U of Penn Law School, Public Law Research Paper No. 31; U of Penn, Inst for Law & Econ Research Paper No. 03-11; 55 Stanford Law Review 2061-89 (2003); GWU Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2012-65; GWU Law School Public Law Research Paper No. 2012-65. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=383780

Edward Swaine (Contact Author)

George Washington University Law School ( email )

2000 H Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20052
United States
202-994-0608 (Phone)

Register to save articles to
your library


Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics