Ten times countries decided to exit international agreements

With Russia suspending its participation in the New START Treaty on nuclear arms, we look at other examples of countries changing their minds.

Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias shakes hands with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken at the Foreign Ministry in Athens
From cutting greenhouse gas emissions to combatting violence against women, countries have withdrawn from pledges in a wide range of international agreements [Louiza Vradi/Reuters]

Russian President Vladimir Putin announced on Tuesday that Russia would suspend participation in the New START Treaty, the last central pillar of post-Cold War nuclear arms control between Moscow and Washington, which limits their strategic nuclear arsenals.

Signed in 2010, the New START Treaty caps the number of strategic nuclear warheads that the United States and Russia may deploy and the deployment of land- and submarine-based missiles and bombers to deliver them.

Here are some other recent examples of international powers deciding to step away from important agreements.

November 2016

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree to withdraw Russia from the International Criminal Court (ICC), which prosecutes war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity.

October 2017

Burundi became the first country to withdraw from the ICC amid accusations that the court focuses too much on the African continent.

May 2018 

US President Donald Trump announced that the US was effectively withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal, defying last-ditch diplomatic efforts by his European allies to convince him otherwise.

October 2018

The US terminated the Treaty of Amity reached in 1976 with Iran, which was supposed to facilitate commercial relationships, tax structures and access to each nation’s court systems.

August 2019

The US formally withdrew from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty – a landmark arms control agreement with Russia – claiming it undermined US national security interests.

Signed in 1987 by US and Soviet Union leaders Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, the INF Treaty required both countries to eliminate land-based nuclear ballistic and cruise missiles with a range of 500km to 5,500km.

The treaty’s expiration now enables the US to resume the development of its medium-range, land-based arsenal.

May 2020

Trump decided to withdraw the US from the 1992 Open Skies Treaty, which authorises countries to fly over each other’s territory to conduct unarmed observation flights.

November 2020

The US formally exited the Paris Agreement, fulfilling Trump’s old promise to withdraw the world’s second-largest greenhouse gas emitter from the global pact to fight climate change.

March 2021 

With a presidential decree published in the Official Gazette on March 20, Turkey pulled out of the Council of Europe’s Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence in a sudden but not unexpected move.

February 2022

Russia also withdrew from the Open Skies Treaty.

November 2022

On November 18, following in the footsteps of Poland, Spain, the Netherlands, France, Slovenia, and Germany, Luxembourg became the seventh country to announce plans to withdraw from the Energy Charter Treaty (ECT) on international cooperation in the energy sector.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies