The Balanced Obligation and the Basis for Compliance in International Law: Reflections on the Question of International Obligation

  •  Thomas Prehi Botchway    


In this essay, we use the implementation of multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs) in developing countries (specifically, the implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity in Ghana) to illustrate why and how States can implement international agreements and for that matter comply with international law without necessarily compromising on equally implementing effective policies to meet their domestic responsibility, particularly when such MEAs may be deemed by some as instruments that curtail the enjoyment of benefits from a State’s natural resources and endowments.

The essay examines the nexus between compliance with international law (international obligation) and meeting domestic responsibility (particularly when the international treaty or agreement to be complied with seems to have some negative implications for the domestic population or State policy). Do States always have an incentive to comply with and execute their international obligations? Should the need for or argument against an international agreement or treaty necessarily lead to its abandonment by States? Can States effectively balance the execution of international obligation with meeting domestic responsibility? Should the effective implementation of a State’s international obligation be regarded as a zero sum for the State’s domestic responsibility? What should be the basis for compliance in international law? These are some of the few questions that this essay seeks to address.

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