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The Security Council resolution implementing the Iran deal spells out the terms of its own destruction. It contains a provision that allows any one of seven countries to terminate its key components. This provision – which this Comment terms a trigger termination – is both unusual and important. It is unusual because, up to now, the Security Council has almost always either not specified the conditions under which resolutions terminate or used time-based sunset clauses. It is important not only for the Iran deal, but also as a precedent and a model for the use of trigger terminations in the future. The political and legal dimensions of trigger terminations are striking. As to political dimensions, this Comment shows that by providing for the termination of resolutions, trigger terminations can influence the bargaining surrounding the creation and implementation of resolutions. As to legal dimensions, this Comment analyzes trigger terminations in light of the broader literature on the Security Council’s power to delegate authority and defends their legality within wide boundaries. Overall, this Comment argues that trigger terminations hold considerable promise but also some peril for the future.


United Nations Security Council, UN, international law, termination of resolutions, Iran, Resolution 2231, conditions to terminate a UN resolution, trigger termination

Publication Title

American Journal of International Law

Publication Citation

109 Am. J. Int'l L. 806 (2015).