This is an especially important finding of the Tribunal which reinforces the binding nature of international law. Under the cardinal principle of pacta sunt servanda (Article 27 [of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties]), a State is normally prohibited from referring to its internal legislation to justify its failure to perform. In applying this principle, the Tribunal concluded that allowing Russia to 'modulate (or, as the may be, eliminate) the obligation of provisional application, depending on the content of its internal law in relation to the specific provisions found in the Treaty, would undermine the principle that provisional application of the treaty creates binding obligations.'
-- Dr. Chiara Giorgetti (right), attorney at White & Case in Washington, Georgetown Law adjunct, and Co-Chair of the International Courts and Tribunals Interest Group of the American Society of International Law, in an ASIL Insight. Georgetti analyzed the Interim Award on Jurisdiction and Admissibility (2009), issued by an arbitral panel in Yukos Universal Ltd. (UK – Isle of Man) v. Russian Federation, an investment dispute alleged to involve $100 billion in losses as a result of the 2006 bankruptcy of Yukos, once Russia's largest oil company. At issue was the duty of a signing (but not ratifying) state, Russia, to adhere to the terms of a treaty even before it enters into force -- in this case, the multilateral Energy Charter Treaty (logo above left). As Georgetti affirms, the panel's finding of duty, in a situation that in other contexts has prompted "unsigning" -- would seem to have the potential for far reach.