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Related to Treaties and conventions: International treaties


A compact made between two or more independent nations with a view to the public Welfare.

A treaty is an agreement in written form between nation-states (or international agencies, such as the United Nations, that have been given treaty-making capacity by the states that created them) that is intended to establish a relationship governed by International Law. It may be contained in a single instrument or in two or more related instruments such as an exchange of diplomatic notes. Various terms have been used for such an agreement, including treaty, convention, protocol, declaration, charter, Covenant, pact, act, statute, exchange of notes, agreement, modus vivendi ("manner of living" or practical compromise), and understanding. The particular designation does not affect the agreement's legal character.

Though a treaty may take many forms, an international agreement customarily includes four or five basic elements. The first is the preamble, which gives the names of the parties, a statement of the general aims of the treaty, and a statement naming the plenipotentiaries (the persons invested with the power to negotiate) who negotiated the agreement and verifying that they have the power to make the treaty. The substance of the treaty is contained in articles that describe what the parties have agreed upon; these articles are followed by an article providing for ratification and the time and place for the exchange of ratifications. At the end of the document is a clause that states "in witness whereof the respective plenipotentiaries have affixed their names and seals" and a place for signatures and dates. Sometimes additional articles are appended to the treaty and signed by the plenipotentiaries along with a declaration stating that the articles have the same force as those contained in the body of the agreement.Article II, Section 2, Clause 2, of the U.S. Constitution gives the president the power to negotiate and ratify treaties, but he must obtain the advice and consent of the Senate (in practice solicited only after negotiation); two-thirds of the senators present must concur. Article I, Section 10, of the Constitution forbids the states to enter into a "treaty, alliance, or confederation," although they may enter into an "agreement or compact" with other states, domestic or foreign, but only with the consent of Congress.

The U.S. Supreme Court, in Missouri v. Holland, 252 U.S. 416, 40 S. Ct. 382, 64 L. Ed. 641 (1920), established that U.S. treaties are superior to state law. Acts of Congress, however, are equivalent to a treaty. Thus, if a treaty and a law of Congress are inconsistent, the one later in time prevails. The Court has never found a treaty to be unconstitutional, and few treaties have been challenged. In general, the Court views a dispute over a treaty as a Political Question outside its jurisdiction.

Traditionally, international law required treaties to be ratified in the same form by all parties. Consequently, reservations or amendments proposed by one party had to be accepted by all. Because of the large number of participating states, this unanimity rule has proved difficult to enforce in modern multilateral treaties sponsored by international agencies for the purpose of creating legal regimes or codifying rules of international law. Where agreement exists on the essential elements of a treaty, international law increasingly is allowing reservations as to minor points not unanimously accepted. Treaties for which ratification is specified come into effect upon the exchange of ratifications between the parties or upon deposit of the ratifications with a designated party or international agency, such as the Secretariat of the United Nations.

A treaty may be terminated in accordance with specifications in the treaty or by consent of the parties. War between the parties does not invariably terminate treaties, as some treaties are made to regulate the conduct of hostilities and treatment of prisoners. Other treaties may be suspended for the duration of the hostilities and then resumed. An unjustified, unilateral abrogation of a treaty may give rise to possible international claims for any injury suffered by the other parties.

Treaties are usually interpreted according to the ordinary sense of their words in context and the apparent purposes to be achieved. If the meaning of the language is unclear or there is doubt that it expresses the intention of the parties, the work product of the negotiation process may be consulted as well as other extrinsic evidence.


n. a pact between nations which, if entered into by the United States through its Executive Branch, must be approved by "two-thirds of the Senators present," under Article II, section 2 of the Constitution, to become effective. Presidents sometimes get around the Senate by entering into "Executive Agreements" with leaders of other countries which are a mode of cooperation and not enforceable treaties.


noun accord, agreement, agreement between nations, alliance, armistice, arrangement, bargain, bond, cartel, charter, compact, concordance, concordat, contract, conventio, convention, covenant, deal, entente, formal contract, international compact, negotiation, pact, pactio, protocol, settlement, truce, understanding
Associated concepts: insurance treaty
See also: agreement, bargain, compact, league, mutual understanding, pact, peace, promise, protocol, stipulation


an agreement. The word is usually used of an agreement between states in international law, but it is also used in the phrase PRIVATE TREATY of the sale of property between individuals.

TREATY, international law. A treaty is a compact made between two or more independent nations with a view to the public welfare treaties are for a perpetuity, or for a considerable time. Those matters which are accomplished by a single act, and are at once perfected in their execution, are called agreements, conventions and pactions.
     2. On the part of the United States, treaties are made by the president, by and with the consent of the senate, provided two-thirds of the senators present concur. Const. article 2, s. 2, n. 2.
     3. No state shall enter into any treaty, alliance or confederation; Const. art. 1, s. 10, n. 1; nor shall any state, without the consent of congress, enter into any agreement or compact with another state, or with a foreign power. Id. art. 1, see. 10, n. 2; 3 Story on the Const. Sec. 1395.
     4. A treaty is declared to be the supreme law of the land, and is therefore obligatory on courts; 1 Cranch, R. 103; 1 Wash. C. C. R. 322 1 Paine, 55; whenever it operates of itself without the aid of a legislative provision; but when the terms of the stipulation import a contract, and either of the parties engages to perform a particular act, the treaty addresses itself to the political, not the judicial department, and the legislature must execute the contract before it can become a rule of the court. 2 Pet. S. C. Rep. 814. Vide Story on the Constitut. Index, h.t.; Serg. Constit. Law, Index, h.t.; 4 Hall's Law Journal, 461; 6 Wheat. 161: 3 Dall. 199; 1 Kent, Comm. 165, 284.
     5. Treaties are divided into personal and real. The personal relate exclusively to the persons of the contracting parties, such as family alliances, and treaties guarantying the throne to a particular sovereign and his family. As they relate to the persons they expire of course on the death of the sovereign or the extinction of his family. Real treaties relate solely to the subject-matters of the convention, independently of the persons of the contracting parties, and continue to bind the state, although there may be changes in its constitution, or in the persons of its rulers. Vattel, Law of Nat. b. 2, c. 12, 183-197.

References in periodicals archive ?
It is now recognized that standards must be constantly kept under review to ensure that they reflect current practices and acknowledge changes to other international standards, regulations, requirements, treaties and conventions.
A body of experts--such as the International Law Commission, which drafted the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties and conventions on diplomatic relations, among others, or the Commission on Human Rights, in the case of most human rights treaties--is charged with the task of formulating the treaty.
2 (Jurisdiction), the Court's decision read as follows: "The Parties in the present [Mavromatis] case agree that Article 26 of the Mandate falls within the category of 'matters specially provided for in Treaties and Conventions in force'.