Thursday 15 September 2011

How Do International Conventions Work?

There are generally three ways in which states agree to be bound by to international treaties (also referred to as conventions, protocols etc.):

1) Full Signature - Very uncommon, basically the state signs up to the new treaty and agrees to be bound by its terms at the same time - a move for the main proponent of a treaty or a state which has much to gain from its going ahead.
2) Signature subject to Ratification - Probably the most common type of way to proceed: a state signs a treaty to show its support in principle for a treaty but does not wish to be bound by its terms until it feels the time is right, when it will ratify the convention.
3) Accession - This is normally for the 'latecomers' if you like - they come along and see other who have signed and already moved to ratification and skip all the nonsense and just 'accede' to the treaty, agreeing to be bound by all its terms straight away in one step.

In some states once the treaty has been consented to fully it automatically becomes binding on a national level, national courts must abide by it. In other states a national law must be passed in the normal way by parliament, containing the text of the convention.


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