A state of necessity: international legal obligations in times of crises

Avidan Kent, Alexandra Harrington

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The purpose of the necessity doctrine is to assist countries in dealing with crises. The necessity doctrine allows, under certain conditions, a State to breach its international obligations in order to cope with the crisis it faces. The conditions of the necessity doctrine have been, and continue to be, clarified by international bodies such as the International Law Commission, and adjudicative tribunals such as the International Court of Justice. In recent years, the necessity doctrine has been the center of several international investment law cases, mainly following Argentina's financial crisis. The application of the doctrine's conditions by some of these tribunals has not been uniform, and has been criticized by academics and practitioners. This article provides an overview of the necessity doctrine and asks whether it can be used to justify measures concerning some of the near future's most urgent challenges.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)65-81
Number of pages17
JournalCanadian Review of American Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2012

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