Has the Treaty of Tripoli been erased?

Do treaties get abrogated or rendered inoperable? I’ve just come across the remarkable (Article 11 !) Treaty of Tripoli (http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/bar1796t.asp#art11) that states that the United States of America has no beef with Muslim countries and “was not in any sense founded on the Christian religion.” Is this treaty still in force? Can treaties be undone? Was this one ever undone? Amazing document. (Ted Cruz, et al, take note). What’s the straight dope on this one?

First of all, the treaty would only apply to the territory ruled by the Bey (or Dey) of Algiers, not all Muslim territory. At the time the area was a Regency of the Ottoman Empire. It was conquered by France in 1830, and incorporated into France as a department. Algeria gained independence in 1962.

Whether the treaty was valid I think would depend on whether the modern state of Algeria could be considered the successor state of the Regency of Algiers. Given that it was not an independent country at the time, I suspect it wouldn’t be.

The Bey of Tripoli…the Dey of Algiers was a witness to the treaty, and the treaty was broken in 1801, which led to the first Barbary War and the second line of the Marine Corps Hymn. It was replaced by this, the Treaty of Peace and Amnity.

A new country that was not previously independent can be considered the successor for international treaties.

The best example of that in recent times is Russia. The Russian Federation was a sub-unit of the USSR until the dissolution of the USSR in the early 90’s. Russia is considered the successor to most of the USSR’s treaty obligations. That’s why Russia has the USSR seat on the Security Council, for example.

Not surprisingly, the treaty doesn’t seem to be listed in the U.S. State Department’s Treaties in Force. As has been noted, the treaty was long ago broken and then superseded.

The Treaty with Tripoli was never the document which actually established that “the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion”–that document is the Constitution of the United States (including amendments–i.e., the First Amendment–as well as the no religious tests clause, and more generally the fact that the U.S. Constitution does not at any point say that the government of the United States is founded on the Christian religion, or Biblical law, or even Deism). The Treaty with Tripoli merely took note, for diplomatic purposes, of this constitutional reality.

The main importance of the treaty is as a historical document, not a legal document; it is evidence of the original intent of the Constitution (since the treaty was negotiated and ratified only a few years after the adoption of the Constitution itself).

If a country breaks up, one of the subunits, usually the dominant one, will be considered the successor state. Russia is the successor state of the USSR, but the other subunits like Latvia, Kazakhstan, etc are not and are not bound by the USSR’s treaties.

I don’t know if Turkey is considered the successor state of the Ottoman Empire. If so, the treaty might apply to Turkey. On the other hand, the Turkish Republic may have repudiated all treaties made by the Ottomans. And it’s unlikely that a treaty signed by a local regent could be expected to apply to the entire Empire.

I don’t know what the situation would be if you make a treaty with a subunit of a larger country. In any case, since the Regency of Algiers was taken over by France for 130 years, I doubt very much that modern Algeria would be considered to be its successor state or be expected to abide by the treaties it signed.

I don’t know if it’s that clear-cut, Colibri. I think it depends on the nature of the treaty.

As a hypothetical, suppose the USSR had negotiated a boundary treaty with Turkey, determining the boundary between north-east Turkey and the USSR.

But that part of the former USSR is now not part of Russia. It’s now two independent countries: Armenia and Georgia border on the north-east corner of Turkey. Russia does not touch Turkey at all.

I think that for the purposes of our hypothetical boundary treaty, Russia would not be considered the successor of the USSR, since it has no interest in the boundary in question. Armenia and Georgia would likely be the successor states to the USSR for the purposes of that boundary treaty.

It’s complicated. There’s the 1978 “Vienna Convention on Succession of States in Respect of Treaties”, which says that successor states are bound by border treaties, and also distinguishes between former colonial states and states that have split up in regards to their membership in international organizations, but the treaty’s just been signed by 22 states, so most of the world doesn’t recognize it.