Document Type

Chapter of Book

Publication Date



international agreements, international cooperation, treaties, flexibility mechanisms, exit clauses, escape clauses


This chapter is a contribution to the forthcoming edited volume INTERNATIONAL LAW AND INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS: TAKING STOCK (Jeffrey Dunoff & Mark A. Pollack eds., Cambridge University Press 2012). The chapter provides an overview of flexibility mechanisms in international agreements and the role of such mechanisms in promoting or inhibiting international cooperation. Part I reviews the many flexibility devices available to treaty makers. It divides these tools into two broad categories: formal mechanisms (such as reservations, escape clauses, and withdrawal provisions) and informal practices (such as auto-interpretation, nonparticipation, and noncompliance). Part II reviews the international law and international relations scholarship on the design and use of treaty flexibility mechanisms, focusing on studies of exit and escape clauses. Part III highlights several conclusions that emerge from the burgeoning literature on treaty flexibility and suggests avenues for future research.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Treaties, International cooperation, International obligations