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Human Rights

Is a Treaty In Force?


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Black's Law Dictionary (11th ed. 2019),
Treaty (15c) 1. An agreement formally signed, ratified, or adhered to between two countries or sovereigns; an international agreement concluded between two or more states in written form and governed by international law. — Also termed accord; convention; covenant; declaration; pact. Cf. executive agreement.

    “Contracts between sovereign states are called by various names, none of which has a fixed meaning. Treaty is the generic term for an agreement formally signed, ratified, or adhered to by two or more sovereign states <Treaty of Warsaw>. An accord is any type of amicable arrangement between peoples or nations <Geneva Accord>. Concord is a more formal, slightly archaic equivalent of accord. A protocol is a treaty amending or supplementing an earlier treaty <Kyoto Protocol>. A declaration is ordinarily an agreement that declares or makes law <Declaration of Paris>. An act generally results from a formal conference involving high officials. A compact is typically an earnest exchange of promises between sovereigns <United Nations Global Compact>. Pact, a less formal equivalent, appears most often either in headlines because of its shortness or in certain set phrases such as suicide pact. A paction is a compact between two nations to be completed by the performance of a single act; the term is rare today. An entente, a shortened form of the French entente cordiale, is an amicable agreement between nations relating to some policy or course of action, especially involving foreign affairs <Anglo-Russian Entente>. A convention is usually a less formal or more specific type of multilateral treaty <Vienna Convention>. A cartel is a written agreement between opposing nations (belligerents) during wartime to regulate whatever dealings will take place between them <cartel for the exchange of prisoners of war>. A concordat is an agreement between a secular government and a church, especially the Vatican, for regulating church-state affairs <Concordat of 1801>… In the U.S., an executive agreement is an agreement between the U.S. and another nation. Unlike a treaty, which must have the advice and consent of the Senate, an executive agreement is made by the President but not ratified by the Senate. Some writers loosely refer to executive agreements as treaties.” Bryan A. Garner, Garner's Dictionary of Legal Usage 902 (3d ed. 2011).
    “International law relating to treaties has largely been codified in the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties (1969) (‘VCLT’). For the purposes of the VCLT, a ‘treaty’ is defined as ‘an international agreement concluded between States in written form and governed by international law, whether embodied in a single instrument or in two or more related instruments and whatever its particular designation.’ … An agreement between a State and a non-State entity does not constitute an international treaty, although such an agreement may be governed by international law and may regulate international law issues …” Malgosia Fitzmaurice, “Treaties,” in 9 The Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law 1060, 1061 (Rüdiger Wolfrum ed., 2012) (citation omitted).
- commercial treaty. (18c) A bilateral or multilateral treaty concerning trade or other mercantile activities. • Such a treaty may be general in nature, as by supplying the framework of long-term commercial relations. Or it may be specific, as by detailing the conditions of particular branches of trade or other commercial transactions. Sometimes a treaty of this kind deals with an individual project, such as a guaranty agreement.
    “Commercial treaties are bilateral or multilateral treaties of public international law for the purpose of regulating conditions of, and establishing mutual rights to, trade and other commercial activities among the parties. They provide the relevant foundation of international economic law, which is essentially based on treaty law. Other sources of international law, in particular customary international law, are of limited relevance, arguably with the exception of procedural customary rules, State responsibility, and minimum standards for the treatment of aliens, in particular expropriation. … In addition to classic treaty law, commercial activities across national borders are informed by a variety of other legal sources, which need to be distinguished from commercial treaties: private international law on commercial activities — be it harmonized or not … — as well as domestic public law on external economic relations, which implements commercial treaty law or regulates market access to, and conditions of competition within, the domestic market autonomously.” Matthias Oesch, “Commercial Treaties,” in 2 The Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law 406, 406 (Rüdiger Wolfrum ed., 2012).
- defensive treaty. (17c) A treaty in which each party agrees to come to the other's aid if one is attacked by another country. See treaty of alliance.
    “Defensive treaties, as generally understood, are made to secure the parties to them against aggression from other states. They may, also, aim at the maintenance of internal quiet, or of neutrality amid the conflicts of neighboring powers. To attempt to gain any of these objects is not necessarily contrary to the law of nations or to natural justice. Mutual aid, indeed, against the disturbers of internal quiet, may secure an absolute government against popular revolutions in favor of liberty, but if a confederation or alliance may secure to its members the enjoyment of free institutions, there is no reason, as far as international law is concerned, why institutions of an opposite kind may not support themselves in the same way.” Theodore D. Woolsey, Introduction to the Study of International Law § 107, at 171 (5th ed. 1878).
- dispositive treaty (dis-poz-ə-tiv) (1918) A treaty by which a country takes over territory by impressing a special character on it, creating something analogous to a servitude or easement in private law.
- guarantee treaty. (18c) An agreement between countries directly or indirectly establishing a unilateral or reciprocal guarantee. — Also spelled guaranty treaty. — Also termed treaty of guarantee; quasi-guarantee treaty; pseudo-guarantee treaty.
    “In many instances where the term ‘guarantee’ is used in international treaties, the contracting parties merely intend to underline their willingness to comply with the obligation they have entered into. Obligations of this kind do not fall within the concept of guarantee in the proper sense of the term. In this particular respect, the expression ‘pseudo-guarantees’ or ‘quasi-guarantee treaties’ is used.” George Ress, “Guarantee Treaties,” in 2 Encyclopedia of Public International Law 634 (1995).
- lawmaking treaty. (1940) A treaty that creates general norms framed as legal propositions that govern the parties' conduct, not just between themselves but as to all states. • Examples include the Declaration of Paris of 1856 (on neutrality in maritime warfare), the Geneva Protocol of 1925 (on prohibited weapons), the General Treaty for the Renunciation of War of 1928, and the Genocide Convention of 1948.
- mixed treaty. (18c)
 A treaty with characteristics of different types of treaties, esp. contrasting types (e.g., permanent and transitory, or personal and real).
- nonaggression treaty. See nonaggression pact.
- nonproliferation treaty. (1964) A treaty forbidding the transfer of nuclear weapons from a country with a nuclear arsenal to one that does not have nuclear-weapons capability. • The first such treaty was concluded in 1968, and now more than 100 countries have agreed to its terms. — Also termed nuclear-nonproliferation treaty.
- non-self-executing treaty. (1944) A treaty whose commitments do not automatically have effect as domestic law and require legislation to make them effective and enforceable. Medellin v. Texas, 552 U.S. 491, 504 (2008); Whitney v. Robertson, 124 U.S. 190, 194 (1888). Cf. self-executing treaty.
- offensive treaty. (17c) A treaty in which the parties agree to declare war jointly on another country and join forces to wage the war. See treaty of alliance.
- peace treaty. (1850) A treaty signed by heads of state to end a war. — Also termed treaty of peace. Cf. truce; peace settlement.
    “A peace differs not from a truce essentially in the length of its contemplated duration, for there may be very long armistices and a state of peace continuing only a definite number of years. The ancients often concluded treaties of peace which were to expire after a certain time …” Theodore D. Woolsey, Introduction to the Study of International Law § 158, at 268 (5th ed. 1878).
- permanent treaty. (18c)
A treaty that contemplates ongoing performance (as with a treaty of neutrality).
- personal treaty. (17c) Hist. A treaty relating exclusively to the contracting sovereign as a person. • Examples of personal treaties are family alliances and treaties guaranteeing the throne to a particular sovereign and his or her family. With the advent of constitutional government in Europe, personal treaties have lost their importance.
- pseudo-guarantee treaty. See guarantee treaty.
- public treaty. (1740) A treaty between sovereigns as opposed to between private parties or between a sovereign and a private party. • Essentially, the term public treaty is a formal equivalent of what we generally mean by treaty.

    “The subject of public treaties constitutes a considerable part of the law of nations, and deserves to have its principles and rules explained with some exactness. By public treaties, we mean such agreements as can be made only by public authority, or those which sovereigns considered as such, make with each other concerning things which directly concern the welfare of the state. This is what distinguishes these agreements, not only from those which individuals make with each other, but also from the contracts of kings in regard to their private affairs.” 2 Jean-Jacques Burlamaqui, The Principles of Natural and Politic Law 216–17 (Thomas Nugent trans., 6th ed. 1823).
- quasi-guarantee treaty. See guarantee treaty.
- real treaty. (17c) A treaty relating solely to the subject matter of the compact, independently of the persons of the contracting sovereigns. • Real treaties continue to bind the state even when the heads of government change.
- self-executing treaty. (1900) A treaty that when signed by a party becomes the party's domestic law equivalent to an act of the legislature and judicially enforceable. Foster v. Neilson, 2 Pet. 253, 314 (1829). Cf. non-self-executing treaty.
- transitory treaty. (1911) A treaty carried into effect once and for all, so that it is complete when the act has been performed (as with a treaty of cession).
- treaty of alliance. (16c) A treaty establishing mutual and reciprocal support obligations. • A treaty of alliance may be for support in defense, aggression, or both. See defensive treaty; offensive treaty.
    “A treaty of alliance can bind the parties to no injustice, nor justify either of them in being accessory to an act of bad faith on the part of another. Hence a defensive, still more an offensive alliance, can only contemplate, if lawful, the warding off of intended injustice.” Theodore D. Woolsey, Introduction to the Study of International Law § 107, at 172 (5th ed. 1878).
- treaty of cession. (18c) A treaty by which at least one party formally relinquishes rights, property, or territory.- treaty of guarantee. See guarantee treaty.
- treaty of neutrality. (17c) A treaty in which the parties agree not to engage in any aggressive action against one another, whether individually or jointly with others, and not to interfere with the other party's affairs. • There is no commitment to aid another party in the event of war — only to refrain from becoming involved.
    “Treaties of neutrality are reciprocal engagements to have no part in the conflicts between other powers — to remain at peace in an apprehended or an actual war. They are suggested by, and prevent the evils of that interference of nations in each other's affairs, for the preservation of the balance of power or the safety of the parties interfering, which is so common in modern history.” Theodore D. Woolsey, Introduction to the Study of International Law § 107, at 172 (5th ed. 1878).
- treaty of peace. See peace treaty.
2. A contract or agreement between insurers providing for treaty reinsurance. See treaty reinsurance under reinsurance. 3. A negotiated contract or agreement between private persons.
- private treaty. (1858) An agreement to convey property negotiated by the buyer and seller or their agents. • This term is esp. common in the United Kingdom.