The Budapest Memorandum of 5 December 1994: Political Engagementor Legal Obligation?
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 ; Russian Federation ; Ukraine ; United States ; United Kingdom
Divisions of PAS
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?