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A couple weeks ago, a Republican candidate for president suggested that if elected, he'd renegotiate NAFTA or break it. What would be involved in either of those processes? Or specifically:

Repeal/Withdrawal

Would simply floating a "repeal NAFTA" bill through the legislature and getting it signed by the President be sufficient to withdraw from NAFTA? (Can't imagine otherwise, national sovereignty and all that.)

Violation

What are the penalties for members to the treaty if they violate its provisions?

Renegotiation

Are there any provisions in the treaty for amendments, or would "renegotiation" basically be like passing another treaty?

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  • I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it belongs on Politics SE.
    – Libra
    Oct 5 '15 at 22:00
  • @TomAu I tossed it up here because it seemed to be a very concrete example and is slightly more focused on the treaty versus processes. I'm not quite sure about the border between law and politics though.
    – Nick T
    Oct 5 '15 at 22:04
  • Since it's process, I'd vote to keep open.
    – Pat W.
    Oct 6 '15 at 13:27
  • I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it really belongs on the SE politics page. While every political action may potentially have legal implications, this is a political issue more that a legal question. See politics.stackexchange.com
    – gracey209
    Oct 6 '15 at 14:36
  • yup, but then again there's the marines. They've historically been quite successfully in resolving all "disputes".
    – user9117
    Sep 16 '16 at 2:20
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Focusing on the legal question rather than the political.

Sovereign power does not mean unfettered power; just ask King John or King George III. The government of the United States exists under the law of the United States. The law of the United States has recognised that the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties is part of US customary law.

Basically, that means that a treaty that the US has ratified is binding on the US and US courts will generally support this. From the article you cite, the treaty could be ended in accordance with its terms: the NAFTA can be ended with 6 months notice – this is not breaking the treaty, it is complying with it. Note, however, that some doubt exists about who has the power to do so. If the treaty has not been properly terminated then it hasn't been terminated at all.

If the US were to breach the terms of the treaty then an aggrieved party with standing (which may include foreign governments or companies) could sue the US either in their local courts or US courts. They would probably succeed.

As for renegotiation, if all the parties are willing anything can be renegotiated.

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  • "If the US were to breach the terms of the treaty then an aggrieved party with standing (which may include foreign governments or companies) could sue the US either in their local courts or US courts": On what grounds? Like all sovereign states, the US cannot be sued without its consent. Has it given consent to that sort of case?
    – cpast
    Oct 6 '15 at 1:57
  • @cpast most treaties give that consent
    – Dale M
    Oct 6 '15 at 2:21

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