Treaty, Consequences of terminology

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Summary

A treaty is an agreement under international law entered into by actors in international law, namely sovereign states and international organizations. A treaty may also be known as an (international) agreement, protocol, covenant, convention, pact, or exchange of letters, among other terms. Regardless of terminology, all of these forms of agreements are, under international law, equally considered treaties and the rules are the same.

Details

One significant part of treaty making is that signing a treaty implies 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.

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 and the United States over security guarantees and nuclear proliferation.

The terminology can also be confusing because a treaty may and usually is named something other than a treaty, such as a convention, protocol, or simply agreement. Conversely some legal documents such as the Treaty of Waitangi are internationally considered to be documents under domestic law.

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External Links

  • WikipediaTreaties and Selected other International Instruments – ResourcesUnited Nations Treaty CollectionProcedural history and related documentsProcedural history and related documents

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