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A treaty is a formal, legally binding written agreement between actors in
international law International law, also known as public international law and law of nations, is the set of rules, norms, and standards generally accepted in relations between nations. It establishes normative guidelines and a common conceptual framework to guide ...
. It is usually entered into by
sovereign state A sovereign state is a polity, political entity represented by one centralized government that has sovereignty over a geographic area. International law defines sovereign states as having a permanent population, defined territory, one government ...
s and
international organizations An international organization (also known as an international institution or intergovernmental organization) is a stable set of norms and rules meant to govern the behavior of states and other actors in the international system. Organizations m ...
, but can sometimes include individuals, business entities, and other
Legal person In law, a legal person is any person or 'thing' (less ambiguously, any legal entity) that can do the things a human person is usually able to do in law – such as enter into contracts, lawsuit, sue and be sued, ownership, own property, and so on ...
s. A treaty may also be known as an international agreement, protocol, covenant, convention, pact, or exchange of letters, among other terms. Regardless of terminology, only instruments that are legally binding upon the parties are considered treaties pursuant to, and governed by, international law. Treaties are roughly analogous to
contract A contract is a legally binding agreement that defines and governs the rights and duties between or among its parties Image:'Hip, Hip, Hurrah! Artist Festival at Skagen', by Peder Severin Krøyer (1888) Demisted with DXO PhotoLab Clearview; ...

contract
s, in that they establish the rights, duties, and binding obligations of the parties. They vary significantly in form, substance, and complexity, and may govern a wide variety of matters, such as territorial boundaries, trade and commerce, mutual defense, and more. Treaties establishing international institutions often serve as the constitution thereof, such as the
Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (often referred to as the International Criminal Court Statute or the Rome Statute) is the treaty A treaty is a formal legally binding written agreement between actors in international l ...
and the
Charter of the United Nations The Charter of the United Nations (also known as the UN Charter) is the foundational treaty A treaty is a formal legally binding written agreement between actors in international law. It is usually entered into by sovereign states and inte ...
. Treaties are among the earliest manifestations of
international relations International relations (IR), international affairs (IA) or international studies (IS) is the scientific study of interactions between sovereign states. In a broader sense, it concerns all activities between states—such as war, diplomacy ...
, with the earliest known example dating to the mid-13th century BC, and are today recognized as a primary source of international law. International law on treaties have mostly been codified by the
Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties The Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties (VCLT) is an international agreement A treaty is a formal legally binding written agreement between actors in international law International law, also known as public international law and law ...

Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties
, which sets forth the rules and procedures for creating, amending, and interpreting treaties, as well as for resolving disputes and alleged breaches. However, most treaties have internal procedures and mechanisms governing potential disagreements.


Modern usage and form

A treaty is an official, express written agreement that states use to legally bind themselves.Shaw, Malcolm. (2003). It is also the objective outcome of a ceremonial occasion that acknowledges the parties and their defined relationships. There is no prerequisite of academic accreditation or cross-professional contextual knowledge required to publish a treaty. However, since the late 19th century, most treaties have followed a fairly consistent format. A treaty typically begins with a
preamble A preamble is an introductory and expressionary statement in a document that explains the document's purpose and underlying philosophy. When applied to the opening paragraphs of a statute, it may recite historical facts pertinent to the subje ...

preamble
describing the "High Contracting Parties" and their shared objectives in executing the treaty, as well as summarizing any underlying events (such as the aftermath of a war in the case of a
peace treaty A peace treaty is an agreementAgreement may refer to: Agreements between people and organizations * Gentlemen's agreement A gentlemen's agreement, or gentleman's agreement, is an informal and legally non-binding wikt:agreement, agreement betwe ...
). Modern preambles are sometimes structured as a single very long sentence formatted into multiple paragraphs for readability, in which each of the paragraphs begins with a
gerund A gerund ( abbreviated An abbreviation (from Latin ''brevis'', meaning ''short'') is a shortened form of a word or phrase, by any method. It may consist of a group of letters, or words taken from the full version of the word or phrase; for exam ...

gerund
(desiring, recognizing, having, etc.). The High Contracting Parties—referred to as either the official title of the
head of state A head of state (or chief of state) is the public persona A persona (plural personae or personas), depending on the context, can refer to either the public image of one's personality, or the social role that one adopts, or a fictional cha ...
(but not including the personal name), e.g. ''His
Majesty Majesty (abbreviated HM for His Majesty or Her Majesty, oral address Your Majesty; from the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the ar ...

Majesty
The King of X'' or ''His
Excellency Excellency is an honorific style (manner of address), style given to certain high-level officers of a sovereign state, officials of an international organization, or members of an aristocracy. Once entitled to the title "Excellency", the holder ...
The President of Y'', or alternatively in the form of "'' Government of Z''"—are enumerated, along with the full names and titles of their
Plenipotentiary A ''plenipotentiary'' (from the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the po ...
representatives; a
boilerplate clauseA boilerplate clause is a legal English term that is used in conjunction with contract law. When forming contracts, parties to the contract often use templates or forms with boilerplate clauses (boilerplate text, boilerplate language, used as standa ...
describes how each party's representatives have communicated (or exchanged) their "full powers" (i.e., the official documents appointing them to act on behalf of their respective high contracting party) and found them in good or proper form. However, under the
Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties The Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties (VCLT) is an international agreement A treaty is a formal legally binding written agreement between actors in international law International law, also known as public international law and law ...

Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties
if the representative is the head of state,
head of government The head of government is either the highest or second-highest official in the executive branch of a sovereign state, a federated state, or a self-governing colony, autonomous region An autonomous administrative division (also referred ...
or
minister of foreign affairs A foreign affairs minister or minister of foreign affairs (less commonly minister for foreign affairs) is generally a cabinet Cabinet or The Cabinet may refer to: Furniture * Cabinetry, a box-shaped piece of furniture with doors and/or drawe ...
, no special document is needed, as holding such high office is sufficient. The end of the preamble and the start of the actual agreement is often signaled by the words "have agreed as follows". After the preamble comes numbered articles, which contain the substance of the parties' actual agreement. Each article heading usually encompasses a paragraph. A long treaty may further group articles under chapter headings. Modern treaties, regardless of subject matter, usually contain articles governing where the final authentic copies of the treaty will be deposited and how any subsequent disputes as to their interpretation will be peacefully resolved. The end of a treaty, the
eschatocol An eschatocol, or closing protocol, is the final section of a legal Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surro ...
(or closing protocol), is often signaled by language such as "in witness whereof" or "in faith whereof", followed by the words "DONE at", then the site(s) of the treaty's execution and the date(s) of its execution. The date is typically written in its most formal, non-numerical form; for example, the
Charter of the United Nations The Charter of the United Nations (also known as the UN Charter) is the foundational treaty A treaty is a formal legally binding written agreement between actors in international law. It is usually entered into by sovereign states and inte ...
reads "DONE at the city of San Francisco the twenty-sixth day of June, one thousand nine hundred and forty-five". If applicable, a treaty will note that it is executed in multiple copies in different languages, with a stipulation that the versions in different languages are equally authentic. The signatures of the parties' representatives follow at the very end. When the text of a treaty is later reprinted, such as in a collection of treaties currently in effect, an editor will often append the dates on which the respective parties ratified the treaty and on which it came into effect for each party.


Bilateral and multilateral treaties

Bilateral treaties Bilateral may refer to any concept including two sides, in particular: *Bilateria, bilateral animals *Bilateralism, the political and cultural relations between two states *Bilateral, occurring on both sides of an organism (Anatomical terms of loc ...
are concluded between two states or entities.Nicolson, Harold. (1934). ''Diplomacy,'' p. 135. It is possible for a bilateral treaty to have more than two parties; for example, each of the bilateral treaties between
Switzerland , french: Suisse(sse), it, svizzero/svizzera or , rm, Svizzer/Svizra , government_type = under an , leader_title1 = , leader_name1 = , leader_title2 = , leader_name2 = , legislatur ...

Switzerland
and the
European Union The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of that are located primarily in . The union has a total area of and an estimated total population of about 447million. has been established through a standardised that apply in ...

European Union
(EU) has seventeen parties: The parties are divided into two groups, the Swiss ("on the one part") and the EU and its member states ("on the other part"). The treaty establishes rights and obligations between the Swiss and the EU and the member states severally—it does not establish any rights and obligations amongst the EU and its member states. A
multilateral treaty A multilateral treaty is a treaty A treaty is a formal, legally binding written agreement between actors in international law International law, also known as public international law and law of nations, is the set of rules, norms, and st ...
is concluded among several countries, establishing rights and obligations between each party and every other party. Multilateral treaties may be regional or may involve states across the world. Treaties of "mutual guarantee" are international compacts, e.g., the
Treaty of Locarno The Locarno Treaties were seven agreements negotiated at Locarno , neighboring_municipalities= Ascona, Avegno, Cadenazzo, Cugnasco, Gerra (Verzasca), Gambarogno, Gordola, Lavertezzo, Losone, Minusio, Muralto, Orselina, Tegna, Switzerland ...
which guarantees each signatory against attack from another.


Role of the United Nations

The United Nations has extensive power to convene states to enact large-scale multilateral treaties and has experience doing so. Also, under the
United Nations Charter The Charter of the United Nations (also known as the UN Charter) is the foundational treaty A treaty is a formal, legally binding written agreement between actors in international law International law, also known as public internation ...

United Nations Charter
, which is itself a treaty, treaties must be registered with the UN to be invoked before it, or enforced in its judiciary organ, the
International Court of Justice The International Court of Justice (ICJ; french: Cour internationale de justice, links=no; ), sometimes known as the World Court, is one of the six principal organs of the United Nations The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmenta ...

International Court of Justice
. This was done to prevent the practice of
secret treaties ''Secret Treaties'' is the third studio album by American Rock music, rock band Blue Öyster Cult, released in April 1974 by Columbia Records, Columbia. The album spent 14 weeks in the US album charts, peaking at No. 53. It was certified gold ...
, which proliferated in the 19th and 20th centuries and often precipitated or exacerbated conflict. Article 103 of the Charter also states that its members' obligations under the Charter outweigh any competing obligations under other treaties. After their adoption, treaties, as well as their amendments, must follow the official legal procedures of the United Nations, as applied by the Office of Legal Affairs, including signature,
ratification Ratification is a principal Principal may refer to: Title or rank * Principal (academia) The principal is the chief executive and the chief academic officer of a university A university ( la, universitas, 'a whole') is an educational insti ...

ratification
and
entry into force In law, coming into force or entry into force (also called commencement) is the process by which legislation, regulations, treaty, treaties and other legal instruments come to have legal force and effect. The term is closely related to the calend ...
. In function and effectiveness, the UN has been compared to the United States federal government under the
Articles of Confederation The Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union was an agreement among the 13 original states of the United States of America The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, ...
.


Adding and amending treaty obligations


Reservations

Reservations are essentially
caveats Caveat may refer to Latin phrases: * ''Caveat lector'' ("let the reader beware") * ''Caveat emptor'' ("let the buyer beware") * ''Caveat venditor'' ("let the seller beware") Other: * CAVEAT, a Canadian lobby group * ''Caveat'', an Nuclear Death d ...
to a state's acceptance of a treaty. Reservations are unilateral statements purporting to exclude or to modify the legal obligation and its effects on the reserving state. These must be included at the time of signing or ratification, i.e. "a party cannot add a reservation after it has already joined a treaty". Article 19 of the Vienna Convention on the law of Treaties in 1969. Originally, international law was unaccepting of treaty reservations, rejecting them unless all parties to the treaty accepted the same reservations. However, in the interest of encouraging the largest number of states to join treaties, a more permissive rule regarding reservations has emerged. While some treaties still expressly forbid any reservations, they are now generally permitted to the extent that they are not inconsistent with the goals and purposes of the treaty. When a state limits its treaty obligations through reservations, other states party to that treaty have the option to accept those reservations, object to them, or object and oppose them. If the state accepts them (or fails to act at all), both the reserving state and the accepting state are relieved of the reserved legal obligation as concerns their legal obligations to each other (accepting the reservation does not change the accepting state's legal obligations as concerns other parties to the treaty). If the state opposes, the parts of the treaty affected by the reservation drop out completely and no longer create any legal obligations on the reserving and accepting state, again only as concerns each other. Finally, if the state objects and opposes, there are no legal obligations under that treaty between those two state parties whatsoever. The objecting and opposing state essentially refuses to acknowledge the reserving state is a party to the treaty at all.


Amendments

There are three ways an existing treaty can be amended. First, a formal amendment requires State parties to the treaty to go through the ratification process all over again. The re-
negotiation File:Treaty of trianon negotiations.jpg, Signing the Treaty of Trianon on 4 June 1920. Albert Apponyi standing in the middle. Negotiation is a dialogue between two or more people or parties intended to reach a beneficial outcome over one or ...
of treaty provisions can be long and protracted, and often some parties to the original treaty will not become parties to the amended treaty. When determining the legal obligations of states, one party to the original treaty and one party to the amended treaty, the states will only be bound by the terms they both agreed upon. Treaties can also be amended informally by the treaty executive council when the changes are only procedural, technical change in customary international law can also amend a treaty, where state behavior evinces a new interpretation of the legal obligations under the treaty. Minor corrections to a treaty may be adopted by a ; but a procès-verbal is generally reserved for changes to rectify obvious errors in the text adopted, i.e. where the text adopted does not correctly reflect the intention of the parties adopting it.


Protocols

In international law and international relations, a protocol is generally a treaty or international agreement that supplements a previous treaty or international agreement. A protocol can amend the previous treaty, or add additional provisions. Parties to the earlier agreement are not required to adopt the protocol. Sometimes this is made clearer by calling it an "optional protocol", especially where many parties to the first agreement do not support the protocol. Some examples: the
United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) established an international International is an adjective (also used as a noun) meaning "between nations". International may also refer to: Music Albums * ''International'' ( ...
(UNFCCC) established a framework for the development of binding
greenhouse gas emission Greenhouse gas emissions are emissions of greenhouse gases created from a range of human activities that cause climate change Climate change includes both global warming driven by human emissions of greenhouse gases and the resulting ...
limits, while the
Kyoto Protocol The Kyoto Protocol was an international treaty A treaty is a formal, legally binding written agreement between actors in international law International law, also known as public international law and law of nations, is the set of ru ...

Kyoto Protocol
contained the specific provisions and regulations later agreed upon.


Execution and implementation

Treaties may be seen as 'self-executing', in that merely becoming a party puts the treaty and all of its obligations in action. Other treaties may be non-self-executing and require 'implementing legislation'—a change in the domestic law of a state party that will direct or enable it to fulfill treaty obligations. An example of a treaty requiring such legislation would be one mandating local prosecution by a party for particular crimes. The division between the two is often not clear and is often politicized in disagreements within a government over a treaty, since a non-self-executing treaty cannot be acted on without the proper change in domestic law. If a treaty requires implementing legislation, a state may be in default of its obligations by the failure of its legislature to pass the necessary domestic laws.


Interpretation

The language of treaties, like that of any law or contract, must be interpreted when the wording does not seem clear or it is not immediately apparent how it should be applied in a perhaps unforeseen circumstance. The states that treaties are to be interpreted "in good faith" according to the "ordinary meaning given to the terms of the treaty in their context and in the light of its object and purpose". International legal experts also often invoke the 'principle of maximum effectiveness,' which interprets treaty language as having the fullest force and effect possible to establish obligations between the parties. No one party to a treaty can impose its particular interpretation of the treaty upon the other parties. Consent may be implied, however, if the other parties fail to explicitly disavow that initially unilateral interpretation, particularly if that state has acted upon its view of the treaty without complaint. Consent by all parties to the treaty to a particular interpretation has the legal effect of adding another clause to the treaty – this is commonly called an 'authentic interpretation'. International tribunals and arbiters are often called upon to resolve substantial disputes over treaty interpretations. To establish the meaning in context, these judicial bodies may review the preparatory work from the negotiation and drafting of the treaty as well as the final, signed treaty itself.


Consequences of terminology

One significant part of treaty-making is that signing a treaty implies a recognition that the other side is a sovereign state and that the agreement being considered is enforceable under international law. Hence, nations can be very careful about terming an agreement to be a treaty. For example, within the United States, agreements between states are compacts and agreements between states and the federal government or between agencies of the government are
memoranda of understanding A memorandum of understanding (MoU) is a type of agreement between two ( bilateral) or more ( multilateral) parties. It expresses a convergence of will between the parties, indicating an intended common line of action. It is often used either in ...
. Another situation can occur when one party wishes to create an obligation under international law, but the other party does not. This factor has been at work with respect to discussions between
North Korea North Korea, officially the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), is a country in , constituting the northern part of the n Peninsula. It borders and to the north, at the (Amnok) and rivers, and to the south at the . Its wes ...

North Korea
and the United States over security guarantees and
nuclear proliferation Nuclear proliferation is the spread of nuclear weapons A nuclear weapon (also known as an atom bomb, atomic bomb, nuclear bomb or nuclear warhead, and colloquially as an A-bomb or nuke) is an explosive device that derives its destructive ...

nuclear proliferation
. The definition of the English word 'Treaty' varies depending on the professional context(s).


Enforcement

While the Vienna Convention provides a general dispute resolution mechanism, many treaties specify a process outside the convention for arbitrating disputes and alleged breaches. This may by a specially convened panel, by reference to an existing court or panel established for the purpose such as the
International Court of Justice The International Court of Justice (ICJ; french: Cour internationale de justice, links=no; ), sometimes known as the World Court, is one of the six principal organs of the United Nations The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmenta ...

International Court of Justice
, the
European Court of Justice The European Court of Justice (ECJ, french: Cour de Justice européenne), formally just the Court of Justice, is the supreme court The supreme court is the highest court A court is any person or institution, often as a government i ...

European Court of Justice
or processes such as the
Dispute Settlement UnderstandingDispute settlement or dispute settlement system (DSS) is regarded by the World Trade Organization (WTO) as the central pillar of the multilateral international trade, trading system, and as the organization's "unique contribution to the stability of ...
of the
World Trade Organization The World Trade Organization (WTO) is an intergovernmental organization that regulates and facilitates international trade between nations. Governments use the organization to establish, revise, and enforce the rules that govern international ...
. Depending on the treaty, such a process may result in financial penalties or other enforcement action.


Ending treaty obligations


Withdrawal

Treaties are not necessarily permanently binding upon the signatory parties. As obligations in international law are traditionally viewed as arising only from the consent of states, many treaties expressly allow a state to withdraw as long as it follows certain procedures of notification. For example, the
Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs The Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961 is an international treaty that prohibits production and supply of specific narcotic drugs and licenses other drugs with similar effects for medical treatment and research. The treaty updated the ...
provides that the treaty will terminate if, as a result of denunciations, the number of parties falls below 40. Many treaties expressly forbid withdrawal. Article 56 of the
Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties The Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties (VCLT) is an international agreement A treaty is a formal legally binding written agreement between actors in international law International law, also known as public international law and law ...

Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties
provides that where a treaty is silent over whether or not it can be denounced there is a rebuttable presumption that it cannot be unilaterally denounced unless: * it can be shown that the parties intended to admit the possibility, or * a right of withdrawal can be inferred from the terms of the treaty. The possibility of withdrawal depends on the terms of the treaty and its ''travaux preparatory. ''It has, for example, been held that it is not possible to withdraw from the
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) is a multilateral treaty adopted by United Nations General Assembly Resolution 2200A (XXI) on 16 December 1966, and in force from 23 March 1976 in accordance with Article 49 of the c ...
. When North Korea declared its intention to do this the Secretary-General of the United Nations, acting as registrar, said that original signatories of the ICCPR had not overlooked the possibility of explicitly providing for withdrawal, but rather had deliberately intended not to provide for it. Consequently, withdrawal was not possible. In practice, because of
sovereignty Sovereignty is the supreme authority within a territory. Sovereignty entails hierarchy within the state, as well as external autonomy for states. In any state, sovereignty is assigned to the person, body, or institution that has the ultimate au ...
, any state can purport to withdraw from any treaty at any time, and cease to abide by its terms. The question of whether this is lawful can be regarded as the success or failure to anticipate community acquiescence or enforcement, that is, how other states will react; for instance, another state might impose sanctions or go to war over a treaty violation. If a state party's withdrawal is successful, its obligations under that treaty are considered terminated, and withdrawal by one party from a bilateral treaty terminates the treaty. When a state withdraws from a multilateral treaty, that treaty will still otherwise remain in force among the other parties, unless, it otherwise should or could be interpreted as agreed upon between the remaining states parties to the treaty.


Suspension and termination

If a party has materially violated or breached its treaty obligations, the other parties may invoke this breach as grounds for temporarily suspending their obligations to that party under the treaty. A material breach may also be invoked as grounds for permanently terminating the treaty itself. A treaty breach does not automatically suspend or terminate treaty relations, however. It depends on how the other parties regard the breach and how they resolve to respond to it. Sometimes treaties will provide for the seriousness of a breach to be determined by a tribunal or other independent arbiter. An advantage of such an arbiter is that it prevents a party from prematurely and perhaps wrongfully suspending or terminating its own obligations due to another's an alleged material breach. Treaties sometimes include provisions for self-termination, meaning that the treaty is automatically terminated if certain defined conditions are met. Some treaties are intended by the parties to be only temporarily binding and are set to expire on a given date. Other treaties may self-terminate if the treaty is meant to exist only under certain conditions. Laurence R. Helfer, Terminating Treaties, in ''The Oxford Guide to Treaties'' 634–649 (Duncan Hollis ed., Oxford University Press, 2012) A party may claim that a treaty should be terminated, even absent an express provision, if there has been a fundamental change in circumstances. Such a change is sufficient if unforeseen, if it undermined the "essential basis" of consent by a party if it radically transforms the extent of obligations between the parties, and if the obligations are still to be performed. A party cannot base this claim on change brought about by its own breach of the treaty. This claim also cannot be used to invalidate treaties that established or redrew political boundaries.


Invalid treaties

There are several reasons an otherwise valid and agreed upon treaty may be rejected as a binding international agreement, most of which involve problems created at the formation of the treaty. For example, the serial Japan–Korea treaties of 1905, 1907 and 1910 were protested; and they were confirmed as "already
null and void In law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and influenced by its environment, is described by its bo ...
" in the 1965
Treaty on Basic Relations between Japan and the Republic of Korea The Treaty on Basic Relations between Japan and the Republic of Korea (Japanese Japanese may refer to: * Something from or related to Japan , image_flag = Flag of Japan.svg , alt_flag = Centered deep ...
.


''Ultra vires'' treaties

A party's consent to a treaty is invalid if it had been given by an agent or body without power to do so under that state's
domestic laws Municipal law is the national, domestic, or internal law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and inf ...
. States are reluctant to inquire into the internal affairs and processes of other states, and so a "manifest violation" is required such that it would be "objectively evident to any State dealing with the matter". A strong presumption exists internationally that a head of state has acted within his proper authority. It seems that no treaty has ever actually been invalidated on this provision. Consent is also invalid if it is given by a representative who ignored restrictions he is subject to by his sovereign during the negotiations if the other parties to the treaty were notified of those restrictions prior to his signing. According to the preamble in The Law of Treaties, treaties are a source of international law. If an act or lack thereof is condemned under international law, the act will not assume international legality even if approved by internal law. This means that in case of a conflict with domestic law, international law will always prevail.


Misunderstanding, fraud, corruption, coercion

Articles 46–53 of the
Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties The Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties (VCLT) is an international agreement A treaty is a formal legally binding written agreement between actors in international law International law, also known as public international law and law ...

Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties
set out the only ways that treaties can be invalidated—considered unenforceable and void under international law. A treaty will be invalidated due to either the circumstances by which a state party joined the treaty or due to the content of the treaty itself. Invalidation is separate from withdrawal, suspension, or termination (addressed above), which all involve an alteration in the consent of the parties of a previously valid treaty rather than the invalidation of that consent in the first place. A governmental leader's consent may be invalidated if there was an erroneous understanding of a fact or situation at the time of conclusion, which formed the "essential basis" of the state's consent. Consent will not be invalidated if the misunderstanding was due to the state's own conduct, or if the truth should have been evident. Consent will also be invalidated if it was induced by the fraudulent conduct of another party, or by the direct or indirect "corruption" of its representative by another party to the treaty. Coercion of either a representative or the state itself through the threat or use of force, if used to obtain the consent of that state to a treaty, will invalidate that consent.


Contrary to peremptory norms

A treaty is null and void if it is in violation of a
peremptory norm A peremptory norm (also called or ' ; Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through ...
. These norms, unlike other principles of customary law, are recognized as permitting no violations and so cannot be altered through treaty obligations. These are limited to such universally accepted prohibitions as those against the aggressive use of force,
genocide Genocide is the attempted destruction of a people, usually defined as an , , , or group. coined the term in 1944, combining the word (, "race, people") with the ("act of killing").. In 1948, the defined genocide as "acts committed wi ...
and other
crimes against humanity Crimes against humanity are certain acts that are purposefully committed as part of a widespread or systematic policy, directed against civilians, in times of war War is an intense armed conflict between states, government A g ...
,
piracy Piracy is an act of robbery Robbery is the crime In ordinary language, a crime is an unlawful act punishable by a state or other authority. The term ''crime'' does not, in modern criminal law, have any simple and universally accepted ...

piracy
, hostilities directed at civilian population,
racial discrimination Racial discrimination is any discrimination Discrimination is the act of making unjustified distinctions between people based on the groups, classes, or other categories to which they belong or are perceived to belong. People may be discrimin ...
and
apartheid Apartheid (: ; , segregation; lit. "aparthood") was a system of institutionalised that existed in and (now ) from 1948 until the early 1990s. Apartheid was characterised by an authoritarian political culture based on ' (or ), wh ...

apartheid
,
slavery Slavery and enslavement are both the state and the condition of being a slave, who is someone forbidden to quit their service for an enslaver, and who is treated by the enslaver as their . Slavery typically involves the enslaved person bein ...
and
torture Torture is the deliberate infliction of severe pain or suffering Suffering, or pain in a broad sense, may be an experience of unpleasantness and aversion associated with the perception of harm or threat of harm in an individual. Suffering i ...

torture
, meaning that no state can legally assume an obligation to commit or permit such acts.


Relation between national law and treaties by country


Australian law

The
constitution of Australia The Constitution of Australia (or Australian Constitution) is a written constitution A constitution is an aggregate of fundamental principles A principle is a proposition or value that is a guide for behavior or evaluation. In law, it i ...

constitution of Australia
allows the
executive government The executive (short for executive branch or executive power) is the part of government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a State (polity), state. In the case of its broad ass ...
to enter into treaties, but the practice is for treaties to be tabled in at least 15 days before signing. Treaties are considered a source of
Australian law The legal system of Australia has multiple forms. It includes a written constitution A constitution is an aggregate of fundamental principles A principle is a proposition or value that is a guide for behavior or evaluation. In law, it is ...
but sometimes require an act of parliament to be passed depending on their nature. Treaties are administered and maintained by the
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade () (DFAT) is the department of the Australian federal government The Australian Government, also known as the Commonwealth Government, is the national government of Australia Australia ...
, which advised that the "general position under Australian law is that treaties which Australia has joined, apart from those terminating a state of war, are not directly and automatically incorporated into Australian law. Signature and ratification do not, of themselves, make treaties operate domestically. In the absence of legislation, treaties cannot impose obligations on individuals nor create rights in domestic law. Nevertheless, international law, including treaty law, is a legitimate and important influence on the development of the common law and may be used in the interpretation of statutes." Treaties can be implemented by executive action, and often, existing laws are sufficient to ensure a treaty is honored. Australian treaties generally fall under the following categories: extradition, postal agreements and money orders, trade and international conventions.


Brazilian law

The federal
constitution of Brazil The Constitution of the Federative Republic of Brazil ( pt, Constituição da República Federativa do Brasil) is the supreme law A constitution is an aggregate of fundamental principles or established precedents that constitute the lega ...
states that the power to enter into treaties is vested in the
president of Brazil President most commonly refers to: *President (corporate title) A president is a leader of an organization, company, community, club, trade union, university or other group. The relationship between a president and a Chief Executive Officer, chi ...
and that such treaties must be approved by the
Congress of Brazil The National Congress of Brazil ( pt, Congresso Nacional do Brasil) is the legislative body of Brazil Brazil ( pt, Brasil; ), officially the Federative Republic of Brazil (Portuguese: ), is the largest country in both South America and Lati ...
(Articles 84, Clause VIII, and 49, Clause I). In practice, that has been interpreted as meaning that the executive branch is free to negotiate and sign a treaty but that its ratification by the president requires the prior approval of Congress. Additionally, the
Supreme Federal Court The Supreme Federal Court ( pt, Supremo Tribunal Federal, , abbreviated STF) is the supreme court The supreme court is the highest court A court is any person or institution, often as a government institution, with the authority to Adju ...

Supreme Federal Court
has ruled that after ratification and entry into force, a treaty must be incorporated into domestic law by means of a presidential decree published in the federal register for it to be valid in Brazil and applicable by the Brazilian authorities. The court has established that treaties are subject to constitutional review and enjoy the same hierarchical position as ordinary legislation (''leis ordinárias'', or "ordinary laws", in Portuguese). A more recent ruling by the
Supreme Court of Brazil The Supreme Federal Court ( pt, Supremo Tribunal Federal, , abbreviated STF) is the supreme court The supreme court is the highest court A court is any person or institution, often as a government institution, with the authority to Adjudi ...
in 2008 has altered that somewhat by stating that treaties containing human rights provisions enjoy a status above that of ordinary legislation, subject to only the constitution itself. Additionally, the 45th Amendment to the constitution makes human rights treaties approved by Congress by a special procedure enjoy the same hierarchical position as a
constitutional amendment A constitutional amendment is a modification of the of a , or other type of . Amendments are often interwoven into the relevant sections of an existing constitution, directly altering the text. Conversely, they can be appended to the constitut ...
. The hierarchical position of treaties in relation to domestic legislation is of relevance to the discussion on whether and how the latter can abrogate the former and vice versa. The constitution does not have a
supremacy clause The Supremacy Clause of the Constitution of the United States The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law A constitution is an aggregate of fundamental principles or established precedents that constitute the legal ...
with the same effects as the one in the
US constitution The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law A constitution is an aggregate of fundamental principles or established precedents that constitute the legal basis of a polity, organisation An organization, or organ ...
, which is of interest to the discussion on the relation between treaties and legislation of the
states of Brazil The federative units of Brazil ( pt, unidades federativas do Brasil) are subnational entities with a certain degree of autonomy (self-government, self-regulation and self-collection) and endowed with their own government A government ...

states of Brazil
.


India

In
India India, officially the Republic of India (: ), is a country in . It is the by area, the country, and the most populous in the world. Bounded by the on the south, the on the southwest, and the on the southeast, it shares land borders wit ...

India
, subjects are divided into three lists: union, state and concurrent. In the normal legislation process, the subjects on the union list must be legislated by the
Parliament of India The Parliament of India ( IAST: ) is the supreme legislative body of the Republic of India. It is a bicameral legislature composed of the President of India and the two houses: the Rajya Sabha (Council of States) and the Lok Sabha Th ...
. For subjects on the state list, only the respective state legislature can legislate. For subjects on the concurrent list, both governments can make laws. However, to implement international treaties, Parliament can legislate on any subject and even override the general division of subject lists.


United States

See the article on the
Bricker Amendment The Bricker Amendment is the collective name of a number of slightly different proposed amendments to the United States Constitution The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the United States of America. This founding ...
for the history of the relationship between treaty powers and Constitutional provisions. The
US Supreme Court The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) is the highest court in the federal judiciary of the United States of America The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is a cou ...

US Supreme Court
ruled in the ''
Head Money Cases The ''Head Money Cases'', 112 U.S. 580 (1884), also referred to as ''Edye v. Robertson'', were a group of cases decided together by the United States Supreme Court The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) is the highest court in the f ...
'' (1884) that "treaties" do not have a privileged position over Acts of Congress and can be repealed or modified, for the purposes of US law, by any subsequent Act of Congress, just like any other regular law. The court also ruled in '' Reid v. Covert'' (1957) that treaty provisions that conflict with the US Constitution are null and void under US law.


Treaties and indigenous peoples


Background

Treaties formed an important part of European
colonization Colonization, or colonisation refers to large-scale population movements where the migrants maintain strong links with their—or their ancestors'—former country, gaining significant privileges over other inhabitants of the territory by such l ...
and, in many parts of the world, Europeans attempted to legitimize their sovereignty by signing treaties with
indigenous people Indigenous peoples, also referred to as first peoples, first nations, aboriginal peoples, native peoples (with these terms often capitalized when referred to relating to specific countries), or autochthonous peoples, are culturally distinct et ...

indigenous people
s. In most cases, these treaties were in extremely disadvantageous terms to the native people, who often did not comprehend the implications of what they were signing. In some rare cases, such as with
Ethiopia Ethiopia, officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, is a landlocked country in the Horn of Africa. It shares borders with Eritrea and Djibouti to the north, Somaliland to the northeast, Somalia to the east, Kenya to the sout ...

Ethiopia
and the
Qing dynasty The Qing dynasty, officially the Great Qing (), was the last Dynasties in Chinese history, dynasty in the History of China#Imperial China, imperial history of China. It was established in 1636, and ruled China proper from 1644 to 1912, w ...
, local governments were able to use the treaties to at least mitigate the impact of European colonization. This involved learning the intricacies of European diplomatic customs and then using the treaties to prevent power from overstepping their agreement or by playing different powers against each other. In other cases, such as New Zealand with the Māori and Canada with its
First Nations The First Nations (french: Premières Nations ) are groups of Canadian indigenous peoples, who are classified as distinct from the Inuit Inuit (; iu, ᐃᓄᐃᑦ 'the people', singular: Inuk, , dual: Inuuk, ) are a group of culturally s ...
people, treaties allowed native peoples to maintain a minimum amount of autonomy. Such treaties between colonizers and indigenous peoples are an important part of political discourse in the late 20th and early 21st century, the treaties being discussed have international standing as has been stated in a treaty study by the UN.


Australia

In the case of
Indigenous Australians Indigenous Australians are people with familial heritage to groups that lived in Australia Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a Sovereign state, sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australia (continen ...
, no treaty was ever entered into with the Indigenous peoples entitling the Europeans to land ownership, mostly adopting the doctrine of ''
terra nullius ''Terra nullius'' (, plural ''terrae nullius'') is a Latin expression meaning "no man's land, nobody's land". It was a principle sometimes used in international law to justify claims that territory may be acquired by a state's Acquisition of ...
'' (with the exception of
South Australia South Australia (abbreviated as SA) is a in the southern central part of . It covers some of the most parts of the country. With a total land area of , it is the fourth-largest of Australia's states and territories by area, and fifth-largest ...
). This concept was later overturned by '' Mabo v Queensland'', which established the concept of
native title in Australia Native title is the designation given to the common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law, or case law) is the body of law created by judges and similar quasi-judicial tribunals by virtue of being stated in w ...
well after colonization was already a ''fait accompli''.


Victoria

On 10 December 2019, the Victorian First Peoples' Assembly met for the first time in the of the
Parliament of Victoria The Parliament of Victoria is the bicameral legislature of the Australian state of Victoria (Australia), Victoria that follows a Westminster System, Westminster-derived parliamentary system. It consists of the Monarchy in Australia, Queen, repre ...

Parliament of Victoria
in
Melbourne Melbourne ( ) is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larger uppercase or capitals (or more formally ''majuscule'') and smaller ...

Melbourne
. The main aim of the Assembly is to work out the rules by which individual treaties would be negotiated between the
Victorian Government The Victorian Government is the executive administrative authority of the Australian state of Victoria. As a parliamentary constitutional monarchy A constitutional monarchy is a form of monarchy in which the monarch exercises autho ...
and individual Aboriginal Victorian peoples. It will also establish an independent Treaty Authority, which will oversee the negotiations between the Aboriginal groups and the Victorian Government and ensure fairness.


United States

Prior to 1871, the government of the United States regularly entered into treaties with Native Americans but the Indian Appropriations Act of 3 March 1871 (ch. 120, 16 Stat. 563) had a rider () attached that effectively ended the President's treaty-making by providing that no Indian nation or tribe shall be acknowledged as an independent nation, tribe, or power with whom the United States may contract by treaty. The federal government continued to provide similar contractual relations with the Indian tribes after 1871 by agreements, statutes, and executive orders.


Canada

Colonization in Canada saw a number of treaties signed between European settlers and Indigenous
First Nations The First Nations (french: Premières Nations ) are groups of Canadian indigenous peoples, who are classified as distinct from the Inuit Inuit (; iu, ᐃᓄᐃᑦ 'the people', singular: Inuk, , dual: Inuuk, ) are a group of culturally s ...
peoples. Historic Canadian treaties tend to fall into three broad categories: commercial, alliance, and territorial. Commercial treaties first emerged in the 17th century and were agreements made between the European Fur trade, fur trading companies and the local First Nations. The Hudson's Bay Company, a British trading company located in what is now Northern Ontario, signed numerous commercial treaties during this period. Alliance treaties, commonly referred to as "treaties of peace, friendship and alliance" emerged in the late 17th to early 18th century. Finally, territorial treaties dictating land rights were signed between 1760 and 1923. The Royal Proclamation of 1763 accelerated the treaty-making process and provided the Crown with access to large amounts of land occupied by the First Nations. The Crown and 364 First Nations signed 70 treaties that are recognized by the Government of Canada and represent over 600,000 First Nation individuals. The treaties are as follows: * Treaties of Peace and Neutrality (1701–1760) * Peace and Friendship Treaties (1725–1779) * Upper Canada Land Surrenders and the Williams Treaties (1764-1862/1923) * Robinson Treaties and Douglas Treaties (1850–1854) * The Numbered Treaties (1871–1921)


Treaty Perceptions

There is evidence that "although both Indigenous and European Nations engaged in treaty-making before contact with each other, the traditions, beliefs, and worldviews that defined concepts such as “treaties" were extremely different". The Indigenous understanding of treaties is based on traditional culture and values. Maintaining healthy and equitable relationships with other nations, as well as the environment, is paramount. Gdoo-naaganinaa, a historic treaty between the Anishinaabe, Nishnaabeg nation and the Iroquois, Haudenosaunee Confederacy is an example of how First Nations approach treaties. Under Gdoo-naaganinaa, also referred-to in English as Dish With One Spoon, ''Our Dish'', the neighbouring nations acknowledged that while they were separate nations they shared the same ecosystem or ''Dish''. It was agreed that the nations would respectably share the land, not interfering with the other nation's
sovereignty Sovereignty is the supreme authority within a territory. Sovereignty entails hierarchy within the state, as well as external autonomy for states. In any state, sovereignty is assigned to the person, body, or institution that has the ultimate au ...
while also not monopolizing environmental resources. First Nations agreements, such as the Gdoo-naaganigaa, are considered "living treaties"’ that must be upheld continually and renewed over time. European settlers in Canada had a different perception of treaties. Treaties were not a living, equitable agreement but rather a legal contract over which the future creation of Canadian law would later rely on. As time passed, the settlers did not think it necessary to abide by all treaty agreements. A review of historic treaties reveals that the European settler understanding is the dominant view portrayed in Canadian treaties.


Treaties Today

Canada today recognizes 25 additional treaties called Modern Treaties. These treaties represent the relationships between 97 Indigenous groups which includes over 89,000 people. The treaties have been instrumental in strengthening Indigenous stronghold in Canada by providing the following (as organized by the Government of Canada) : * Indigenous ownership over 600,000 km² of land (almost the size of Manitoba) * capital transfers of over $3.2 billion * protection of traditional ways of life * access to resource development opportunities * participation in land and resources management decisions * certainty with respect to land rights in round 40% of Canada's land mass * associated self-government rights and political recognition


See also

* Bilateral treaty * Multilateral treaty * Peace treaty * Treaty of Friendship * ' * ' * List of intergovernmental organizations * List of treaties * Manrent (feudal Scottish Clan treaty) * Supranational union * Treaty ratification *
Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties The Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties (VCLT) is an international agreement A treaty is a formal legally binding written agreement between actors in international law International law, also known as public international law and law ...

Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties


Notes


References

* Branch, Government of Canada; Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada; Communications (2008-11-03). "Treaties and agreements". ''www.rcaanc-cirnac.gc.ca''. Retrieved 2021-02-05. *Korean Mission to the Conference on the Limitation of Armament, Washington, D.C., 1921–1922. (1922). ''Korea's Appeal to the Conference on Limitation of Armament.'' Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office. *Miller, James Rodger (2009-01-01). ''Compact, Contract, Covenant: Aboriginal Treaty-making in Canada''. University of Toronto Press. * Harold Nicolson, Nicolson, Harold. (1936). ''Diplomacy,'' 1st ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press. * Seah, Daniel
"Problems Concerning the International Law-Making Practice of ASEAN: A Reply to Chen Zhida"
Asian Journal of International Law (2015) *Malcolm Shaw (academic), Shaw, Malcolm Nathan. (1977). ''International Law,'' 1st ed. Sevenoaks, Kent: Hodder and Stoughton. *Simpson, Leanne (2008). "Looking after Gdoo-naaganinaa: Precolonial Nishnaabeg Diplomatic and Treaty Relationships". ''Wicazo Sa Review''. 23 (2): 29–42. Doi (identifier), doi:10.1353/wic.0.0001. ISSN (identifier), ISSN 1533-7901
Timothy L. Meyer
"From Contract to Legislation: The Logic of Modern International Lawmaking" 14 Chicago Journal of International Law 559 (2014), available a
From Contract to Legislation: The Logic of Modern International Lawmaking


External links


Treaties and Selected other International Instruments – Resources

United Nations Treaty Collection


on ''The Guide to Practice on Reservations to Treaties'' in th

of the United Nations Audiovisual Library of International Law
Procedural history and related documents
on the ''Articles on the Effects of Armed Conflicts on Treaties'' in th

of the United Nations Audiovisual Library of International Law
ISEA International Energy Treaties


from ''UCB Libraries GovPubs''

from the American Society of International Law
Treaty Affairs
at the United States Department of State
Treaties Office
at the
European Union The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of that are located primarily in . The union has a total area of and an estimated total population of about 447million. has been established through a standardised that apply in ...

European Union

Peace Palace Library – Research Guide
{{Authority control Treaties, Sources of law