Definitions

rebus sic stantibus

Clausula rebus sic stantibus

Clausula rebus sic stantibus ('things thus standing') is a doctrine in international treaty law that stands for the proposition that a treaty may become inapplicable owing to a fundamental change of circumstances. This poses a risk to the security of treaties as its scope is relatively unconfined and it requires strict regulations as to the conditions in which it may be invoked.

Although it is clear that a fundamental change of circumstances might justify terminating or modifying a treaty, unilateral denunciation of a treaty is prohibited; i.e. a party does not have the right to denounce a treaty singlehandedly.

This doctrine is codified in the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties under article 62: Fundamental Change of Circumstance.

If the parties to a treaty had contemplated for the occurrence of the changed circumstance, the doctrine will not apply and instead, the provision will take effect. Clausula rebus sic stantibus only relates to changed circumstances that were never contemplated by the parties. This principle is clarified in the Fisheries Jurisdiction Case; United Kingdom v. Iceland [1973]

Otto von Bismarck said that all treaties should contain this phrase.

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