treaty

treaty

[tree-tee]
treaty, in international law, formal agreement between sovereign states or organizations of states. The term treaty is ordinarily confined to important formal agreements, while less formal international accords are called conventions, acts, declarations, or protocols.

A treaty ordinarily deals with the rights and duties of nations, but treaties may also grant specific rights to private individuals. Although treaties deal with a great variety of subjects, they are commonly classified under a few heads. Political treaties deal with (among other things) alliances, war, cessions of territory, and rectification of boundaries. Commercial treaties may govern fisheries, navigation, tariffs, and monetary exchange. Legal treaties concern extradition of criminals, patent and copyright protection, and the like.

Treaties are designed to regularize the intercourse of nations, and, as such, they are the source of most international law. In some countries treaties are a part of the law of the land and are binding upon all persons. In the United States the Supreme Court has held that a treaty automatically abrogates any state or federal statute in conflict with it.

Treaties have existed ever since states came into existence. Records survive of Mesopotamian treaties dating before 3000 B.C., and in the Old Testament many treaties are mentioned. The Greeks and the Romans had elaborate ceremonials to emphasize the sanctity of treaties, and many current treaty practices have classical antecedents.

Negotiation, Ratification, and Interpretation

A treaty is negotiated by duly accredited representatives of the executive branch of the government; for the United States negotiations are ordinarily conducted by officials of the Dept. of State under the authority of the President. The preliminaries are not usually open to the public, but the record of all protocol (i.e., the minutes) is preserved for use in case the treaty provisions require subsequent interpretation. Technical experts draft the text, which the government representatives then sign.

The treaty is next ratified by the signatory states in accordance with their regular practice. In the United States the Constitution requires that a treaty must be approved by two thirds of the Senate (executive agreements, however, which are undertaken through the President's powers and do not need the Senate's approval, account for a large number of the international agreements of the United States). It has been argued that such wartime agreements as those made by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt at the Yalta Conference were in effect secret treaties. A treaty comes into effect when the ratifications are formally exchanged.

Members of the United Nations are required to register their treaties with that organization (following the like practice of the League of Nations), and a treaty that has not been registered may not be invoked before a UN agency. If treaties between UN members conflict with their obligations under the Charter of the United Nations, the Charter takes precedence.

The interpretation of treaties, like that of all legal documents, may present great difficulties. There is no tribunal with compulsory and final jurisdiction to interpret a treaty; parties may, however, voluntarily submit a dispute to the International Court of Justice (World Court) or the Permanent Court of Arbitration (Hague Tribunal).

Termination

Treaties may come to an end in various ways. Most provide for a date of expiration or a time at which notice to terminate must be given if the treaty is not to continue in effect for another specified period. Treaties terminate if one of the signatory states becomes politically extinct or (in the case of political treaties) if the parties are at war with one another. The outbreak of war need not necessarily bring a treaty to an end, however, and provisions compatible with a state of hostilities remain in force, as long as they are not expressly terminated. Treaties relating to the laws of war, of course, remain in effect during hostilities. A treaty may be terminated by mutual consent, and breach of a treaty by one party entitles the other to abrogate it.

Bibliography

See H. Blix, Treaty-making Power (1960); P. Reuter, Introduction to the Law of Treaties (1989); A. D. McNair, The Law of Treaties (rev. ed. 1986); J. A. Grenville and B. Wasserstein, The Major International Treaties Since 1945 (1988).

Contract or other written instrument binding two or more states under international law. The term is generally reserved for the more important international agreements, usually requiring, in addition to the signatures of authorized persons, ratification by the governments involved. A treaty may be bilateral or multilateral; it usually contains a preamble, an enumeration of the issues agreed on, and clauses that discuss its ratification procedures, lifespan, and terms for termination. Treaties may be political, commercial, constitutional, or administrative, or they may relate to criminal and civil justice or codify international law.

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(1842) Treaty between the U.S. and Britain establishing the northeastern boundary of the U.S. Negotiated by U.S. secretary of state Daniel Webster and Britain's ambassador Lord Ashburton, it also provided for Anglo-U.S. cooperation in the suppression of the slave trade. It fixed the present boundary between Maine and New Brunswick, granted the U.S. navigation rights on the St. John River, provided for extradition in nonpolitical criminal cases, and established a joint naval system for suppressing the slave trade off the African coast.

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International agreement, signed in 1919 at the Palace of Versailles, that concluded World War I. It was negotiated primarily by the U.S., Britain, and France, without participation by the war's losers. Germany was forced to accept blame for Allied losses and to pay major reparations. Its European territory was reduced by about 10percnt, its overseas possessions were confiscated, and its military establishment was reduced. Although some of the treaty's terms were eased in the 1920s, the bitterness it created helped to foster an environment that led to the growth of fascism in Italy and the rise of the Nazi Party in Germany. The treaty also established the League of Nations, the International Labour Organization, and the Permanent Court of International Justice (later the International Court of Justice). Seealso Fourteen Points.

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(843) Treaty partitioning the Carolingian empire among the three surviving sons of Louis I (the Pious). It marked a first stage in the dissolution of Charlemagne's empire and a step toward the formation of the modern countries of western Europe. The treaty was signed following three years of civil war between the three brothers. Lothar I received the imperial h1 and Francia Media, which included much of Italy as well as parts of several other present-day European countries. Louis the German received Francia Orientalis, the land east of the Rhine River, and Charles II (the Bald) received Francia Occidentalis, the remainder of modern France.

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(June 4, 1920) Treaty at the end of World War I between Hungary and the Allied Powers, signed at the Trianon Palace at Versailles, France. By its terms, Hungary lost two-thirds of its former territory, which was divided among Czechoslovakia, Austria, the future Yugoslavia, and Romania. Hungary's armed forces were restricted to 35,000 lightly armed men, to be used only to maintain internal order.

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(November 7, 1659) Peace treaty between France and Spain. From the end of the Thirty Years' War (1648) until 1659, Spain and France fought almost continuously. When Philip IV of Spain did not receive the expected Habsburg support against France, he concluded a peace settlement that ceded border regions to France. The treaty also involved a marriage compact between Louis XIV and the Spanish infanta Maria Teresa, which established Louis as the most powerful monarch in Europe.

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International agreement, signed in 1919 at the Palace of Versailles, that concluded World War I. It was negotiated primarily by the U.S., Britain, and France, without participation by the war's losers. Germany was forced to accept blame for Allied losses and to pay major reparations. Its European territory was reduced by about 10percnt, its overseas possessions were confiscated, and its military establishment was reduced. Although some of the treaty's terms were eased in the 1920s, the bitterness it created helped to foster an environment that led to the growth of fascism in Italy and the rise of the Nazi Party in Germany. The treaty also established the League of Nations, the International Labour Organization, and the Permanent Court of International Justice (later the International Court of Justice). Seealso Fourteen Points.

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(843) Treaty partitioning the Carolingian empire among the three surviving sons of Louis I (the Pious). It marked a first stage in the dissolution of Charlemagne's empire and a step toward the formation of the modern countries of western Europe. The treaty was signed following three years of civil war between the three brothers. Lothar I received the imperial h1 and Francia Media, which included much of Italy as well as parts of several other present-day European countries. Louis the German received Francia Orientalis, the land east of the Rhine River, and Charles II (the Bald) received Francia Occidentalis, the remainder of modern France.

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(June 4, 1920) Treaty at the end of World War I between Hungary and the Allied Powers, signed at the Trianon Palace at Versailles, France. By its terms, Hungary lost two-thirds of its former territory, which was divided among Czechoslovakia, Austria, the future Yugoslavia, and Romania. Hungary's armed forces were restricted to 35,000 lightly armed men, to be used only to maintain internal order.

Learn more about Trianon, Treaty of with a free trial on Britannica.com.

(June 7, 1494) Agreement between Spain and Portugal aimed at settling conflicts over lands explored by voyagers of the late 15th century. In 1493 Pope Alexander VI had granted Spain all the lands west of a line 100 leagues (about 320 miles) west of the Cape Verde Islands, in return for an agreement to Christianize the peoples of the New World; Portuguese expeditions were to keep to the east. At Tordesillas (a village in Spain), ambassadors from Spain and Portugal moved that line west, thereby allowing Portugal to claim Brazil when it was discovered in 1500.

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(1878) Peace settlement imposed on the Ottoman government by Russia at the end of the Russo-Turkish War. It established an independent Bulgarian principality that included most of Macedonia, realigned other European provinces of the Ottoman Empire, and ceded parts of Asian Turkey to Russia. Opposed by Austria-Hungary and Britain, it was modified at the Congress of Berlin.

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(1919) Treaty ending World War I between Austria and the Allied Powers. Signed at Saint-Germain-en-Laye, near Paris, on Sept. 10, 1919, it came into force on July 16, 1920. It registered the breakup of the Habsburg empire and recognized the independence of Czechoslovakia, Poland, Hungary, and the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes (later Yugoslavia). Eastern Galicia, southern Tirol, and Trieste were also ceded by Austria. The treaty limited Austria's army to 30,000 men, dismantled the Austro-Hungarian navy, and barred the union of Austria with Germany.

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(Dec. 26, 1805) Agreement signed by Austria and France at Pressburg (now Bratislava, Slvk.) after Napoleon's victories at the Battles of Ulm and Austerlitz. Austria gave up Venetia to Napoleon's kingdom of Italy and the Tirol and Vorarlberg to Bavaria. Austria agreed to admit the electors of Bavaria and Württemberg, allied with Napoleon, to the rank of kings, which further reduced Austrian influence in Germany. Austria's influence was also excluded from Italy. The treaty enabled Napoleon to create a ring of French client states beyond France.

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(1905) Peace settlement that ended the Russo-Japanese War. It was mediated by Pres. Theodore Roosevelt and signed at the U.S. naval base near Portsmouth, N.H. By its terms, Russia recognized Japan as the dominant power in Korea and ceded its leases to Port Arthur (now Lüshun) and the Liaodong Peninsula, as well as the southern half of Sakhalin, to Japan. Both powers agreed to restore Manchuria to China.

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(1763) Treaty concluding the Seven Years' War (including the French and Indian War). It was signed by Britain and Hanover on one side and France and Spain on the other. France renounced to Britain the mainland of North America east of the Mississippi, its conquests in India since 1749, and four West Indian islands. Britain restored to France four other West Indian islands and the West African colony of Gorée (Senegal). In return for recovering Havana and Manila, Spain ceded Florida to Britain and received Louisiana from the French.

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(November 27, 1919) Peace treaty between Bulgaria and the Allied Powers after World War I, signed at Neuilly-sur-Seine, France. Bulgaria was forced to reduce its army to 20,000 men, cede lands to Yugoslavia and Greece that involved the transfer of 300,000 people, and pay reparations to the Allies.

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(1923) Final treaty concluding World War I, between Turkey (successor to the Ottoman Empire) and the Allies. Signed in Lausanne, Switz., it replaced the Treaty of Sèvres (1920). It recognized the boundaries of the modern state of Turkey, as well as British possession of Cyprus and Italian possession of the Dodecanese, and the Turkish straits between the Aegean and Black seas were declared open to all shipping.

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(1774) Pact signed after the Russo-Turkish War of 1768–74, in Küçük Kaynarca (now Kaynardzha), Bulg., ending undisputed Ottoman control of the Black Sea. The treaty extended the Russian frontier to the southern Bug River and allowed Russia to navigate freely in Ottoman waters through the Bosporus Strait and the Dardanelles. Most far-reaching was a religious stipulation allowing Russia to represent Eastern Orthodox Christians in several regions, which Russia later interpreted as the right to intervene to protect Eastern Orthodox Christians anywhere in the Ottoman Empire.

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(Feb. 2, 1848) Treaty between the U.S. and Mexico that ended the Mexican War, named for the Mexico City neighbourhood where it was signed. It drew the U.S.-Mexico boundary at the Rio Grande and the Gila River. For $15 million the U.S. received more than 525,000 sq mi (1.36 million sq km) of land and agreed to settle the more than $3 million in claims made by U.S. citizens against Mexico. By leaving Mexicans unsure of their country's future and reopening the question of the expansion of slavery in the vast territory ceded to the U.S., the treaty was a factor in the civil wars that followed in both countries.

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or Treaty of Adrianople

(September 14, 1829) Pact concluding the Russo-Turkish War of 1828–29. Signed at Edirne (ancient Adrianople), Turkey, the treaty opened the Turkish straits to Russian shipping and granted Russia some territorial concessions. It strengthened Russia's position in Eastern Europe and weakened that of the Ottoman empire, and it foreshadowed the Ottoman empire's dependence on the European balance of power and the dismemberment of its Balkan possessions.

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(1699) Peace settlement that ended hostilities (1683–99) between the Ottoman Empire and the Holy League (Austria, Poland, Venice, and Russia). Signed at Carlowitz (now Sremski Karlovci), near Belgrade, it significantly diminished Turkish influence in eastern Europe and made Austria the dominant power there. Austria received most of Hungary, Transylvania, Croatia, and Slovenia. Venice acquired most of Dalmatia, and Poland regained Podolia and part of Ukraine. The Russians concluded a two-year armistice at Carlowitz, signing a treaty in 1700 that gave Azov to Russia, though the Turks regained Azov in 1711.

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(Oct. 17, 1797) Peace settlement between France and Austria, signed at Campo Formio (now Campoformido, Italy) following Austria's defeat in Napoleon's first Italian campaign. The treaty preserved most of the French conquests and completed Napoleon's victory over the First Coalition, the group of European nations opposing him. Seealso French Revolutionary Wars.

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or Paix des Dames

(French: “Peace of the Ladies”) (August 3, 1529) Agreement ending one phase of the wars between Francis I of France and Emperor Charles V, temporarily confirming Spanish (Habsburg) control in Italy. It was called the Paix des Dames because it was negotiated by Louise of Savoy (1476–1531), mother of King Francis and regent in his absence, and Margaret of Austria, aunt of Charles and regent of the Netherlands. See also Treaty of Cateau-Cambrésis.

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(March 27, 1802) Agreement signed at Amiens, France, by Britain, France, Spain, and the Batavian Republic (The Netherlands). By the treaty, France and its allies recovered most of their colonies, despite their military reverses overseas. The treaty ignored continuing trade differences between Britain and France, but it achieved a peace in Europe for 14 months during the Napoleonic Wars.

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(Oct. 18, 1748) Treaty that ended the War of the Austrian Succession. The treaty, negotiated largely by Britain and France, was marked by the mutual restitution of conquests, including the fortress of Louisbourg (in Nova Scotia) to France and Madras (now Chennai; in India) to England. It preserved Maria Theresa's right to the Austrian lands, but the Habsburgs were weakened by Prussia's retention of Silesia. The treaty did not resolve any issues in the commercial colonial struggle between England and France and thus did not lead to a lasting peace.

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(June 7, 1494) Agreement between Spain and Portugal aimed at settling conflicts over lands explored by voyagers of the late 15th century. In 1493 Pope Alexander VI had granted Spain all the lands west of a line 100 leagues (about 320 miles) west of the Cape Verde Islands, in return for an agreement to Christianize the peoples of the New World; Portuguese expeditions were to keep to the east. At Tordesillas (a village in Spain), ambassadors from Spain and Portugal moved that line west, thereby allowing Portugal to claim Brazil when it was discovered in 1500.

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Regional defense organization (1955–77) comprising Australia, France, New Zealand, Pakistan, the Philippines, Thailand, Britain, and the U.S. It was founded as part of the Southeast Asia Collective Defense Treaty in order to protect the region from communism. Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos were not considered for membership, and other countries in the region preferred membership in the nonaligned movement. SEATO had no standing forces, but its members engaged in combined military exercises. Pakistan withdrew in 1968, and France suspended financial support in 1975. The organization was disbanded officially in 1977.

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(1878) Peace settlement imposed on the Ottoman government by Russia at the end of the Russo-Turkish War. It established an independent Bulgarian principality that included most of Macedonia, realigned other European provinces of the Ottoman Empire, and ceded parts of Asian Turkey to Russia. Opposed by Austria-Hungary and Britain, it was modified at the Congress of Berlin.

Learn more about San Stefano, Treaty of with a free trial on Britannica.com.

(1919) Treaty ending World War I between Austria and the Allied Powers. Signed at Saint-Germain-en-Laye, near Paris, on Sept. 10, 1919, it came into force on July 16, 1920. It registered the breakup of the Habsburg empire and recognized the independence of Czechoslovakia, Poland, Hungary, and the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes (later Yugoslavia). Eastern Galicia, southern Tirol, and Trieste were also ceded by Austria. The treaty limited Austria's army to 30,000 men, dismantled the Austro-Hungarian navy, and barred the union of Austria with Germany.

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(November 7, 1659) Peace treaty between France and Spain. From the end of the Thirty Years' War (1648) until 1659, Spain and France fought almost continuously. When Philip IV of Spain did not receive the expected Habsburg support against France, he concluded a peace settlement that ceded border regions to France. The treaty also involved a marriage compact between Louis XIV and the Spanish infanta Maria Teresa, which established Louis as the most powerful monarch in Europe.

Learn more about Pyrenees, Treaty of the with a free trial on Britannica.com.

(Dec. 26, 1805) Agreement signed by Austria and France at Pressburg (now Bratislava, Slvk.) after Napoleon's victories at the Battles of Ulm and Austerlitz. Austria gave up Venetia to Napoleon's kingdom of Italy and the Tirol and Vorarlberg to Bavaria. Austria agreed to admit the electors of Bavaria and Württemberg, allied with Napoleon, to the rank of kings, which further reduced Austrian influence in Germany. Austria's influence was also excluded from Italy. The treaty enabled Napoleon to create a ring of French client states beyond France.

Learn more about Pressburg, Treaty of with a free trial on Britannica.com.

(1905) Peace settlement that ended the Russo-Japanese War. It was mediated by Pres. Theodore Roosevelt and signed at the U.S. naval base near Portsmouth, N.H. By its terms, Russia recognized Japan as the dominant power in Korea and ceded its leases to Port Arthur (now Lüshun) and the Liaodong Peninsula, as well as the southern half of Sakhalin, to Japan. Both powers agreed to restore Manchuria to China.

Learn more about Portsmouth, Treaty of with a free trial on Britannica.com.

(1763) Treaty concluding the Seven Years' War (including the French and Indian War). It was signed by Britain and Hanover on one side and France and Spain on the other. France renounced to Britain the mainland of North America east of the Mississippi, its conquests in India since 1749, and four West Indian islands. Britain restored to France four other West Indian islands and the West African colony of Gorée (Senegal). In return for recovering Havana and Manila, Spain ceded Florida to Britain and received Louisiana from the French.

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in full North Atlantic Treaty Organization

International military alliance created to defend western Europe against a possible Soviet invasion. A 1948 collective-defense alliance between Britain, France, The Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg was recognized as inadequate to deter Soviet aggression, and in 1949 the U.S. and Canada agreed to join their European allies in an enlarged alliance. A centralized administrative structure was set up, and three major commands were established, focused on Europe, the Atlantic, and the English Channel (disbanded in 1994). The admission of West Germany in 1955 led to the Soviet Union's creation of the opposing Warsaw Treaty Organization, or Warsaw Pact. France withdrew from military participation in 1966. Since NATO ground forces were smaller than those of the Warsaw Pact, the balance of power was maintained by superior weaponry, including intermediate-range nuclear weapons. After the Warsaw Pact's dissolution and the end of the Cold War in 1991, NATO withdrew its nuclear weapons and attempted to transform its mission. It involved itself in the Balkan conflicts of the 1990s. Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty stated that an attack on one signatory would be regarded as an attack on the rest. This article was first invoked in 2001 in response to the terrorist September 11 attacks against the U.S. Additional countries joined NATO in 1999 and 2004 to bring the number of full members to 26. In 2009 France announced its plan to rejoin NATO's integrated military command.

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(November 27, 1919) Peace treaty between Bulgaria and the Allied Powers after World War I, signed at Neuilly-sur-Seine, France. Bulgaria was forced to reduce its army to 20,000 men, cede lands to Yugoslavia and Greece that involved the transfer of 300,000 people, and pay reparations to the Allies.

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(1923) Final treaty concluding World War I, between Turkey (successor to the Ottoman Empire) and the Allies. Signed in Lausanne, Switz., it replaced the Treaty of Sèvres (1920). It recognized the boundaries of the modern state of Turkey, as well as British possession of Cyprus and Italian possession of the Dodecanese, and the Turkish straits between the Aegean and Black seas were declared open to all shipping.

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or Lateran Pact

(1929) Pact of mutual recognition between Italy and the Vatican, signed in the Lateran Palace, Rome. The Vatican agreed to recognize the state of Italy, with Rome as its capital, in exchange for formal establishment of Roman Catholicism as the state religion of Italy, institution of religious instruction in the public schools, the banning of divorce, and recognition of papal sovereignty over Vatican City and the complete independence of the pope. A second concordat in 1985 ended Catholicism's status as the state religion and discontinued compulsory religious education.

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(1774) Pact signed after the Russo-Turkish War of 1768–74, in Küçük Kaynarca (now Kaynardzha), Bulg., ending undisputed Ottoman control of the Black Sea. The treaty extended the Russian frontier to the southern Bug River and allowed Russia to navigate freely in Ottoman waters through the Bosporus Strait and the Dardanelles. Most far-reaching was a religious stipulation allowing Russia to represent Eastern Orthodox Christians in several regions, which Russia later interpreted as the right to intervene to protect Eastern Orthodox Christians anywhere in the Ottoman Empire.

Learn more about Küçük Kaynarca, Treaty of with a free trial on Britannica.com.

(Feb. 2, 1848) Treaty between the U.S. and Mexico that ended the Mexican War, named for the Mexico City neighbourhood where it was signed. It drew the U.S.-Mexico boundary at the Rio Grande and the Gila River. For $15 million the U.S. received more than 525,000 sq mi (1.36 million sq km) of land and agreed to settle the more than $3 million in claims made by U.S. citizens against Mexico. By leaving Mexicans unsure of their country's future and reopening the question of the expansion of slavery in the vast territory ceded to the U.S., the treaty was a factor in the civil wars that followed in both countries.

Learn more about Guadalupe Hidalgo, Treaty of with a free trial on Britannica.com.

or Treaty of Adrianople

(September 14, 1829) Pact concluding the Russo-Turkish War of 1828–29. Signed at Edirne (ancient Adrianople), Turkey, the treaty opened the Turkish straits to Russian shipping and granted Russia some territorial concessions. It strengthened Russia's position in Eastern Europe and weakened that of the Ottoman empire, and it foreshadowed the Ottoman empire's dependence on the European balance of power and the dismemberment of its Balkan possessions.

Learn more about Edirne, Treaty of with a free trial on Britannica.com.

(1850) Compromise agreement designed to harmonize contending British and U.S. interests in Central America. The treaty provided that the two countries jointly control and protect what was to become the Panama Canal. The Clayton-Bulwer treaty was superseded in 1901 by the Hay-Pauncefote Treaty, under which the British government agreed to allow the U.S. to construct and control the canal.

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(1699) Peace settlement that ended hostilities (1683–99) between the Ottoman Empire and the Holy League (Austria, Poland, Venice, and Russia). Signed at Carlowitz (now Sremski Karlovci), near Belgrade, it significantly diminished Turkish influence in eastern Europe and made Austria the dominant power there. Austria received most of Hungary, Transylvania, Croatia, and Slovenia. Venice acquired most of Dalmatia, and Poland regained Podolia and part of Ukraine. The Russians concluded a two-year armistice at Carlowitz, signing a treaty in 1700 that gave Azov to Russia, though the Turks regained Azov in 1711.

Learn more about Carlowitz, Treaty of with a free trial on Britannica.com.

(Oct. 17, 1797) Peace settlement between France and Austria, signed at Campo Formio (now Campoformido, Italy) following Austria's defeat in Napoleon's first Italian campaign. The treaty preserved most of the French conquests and completed Napoleon's victory over the First Coalition, the group of European nations opposing him. Seealso French Revolutionary Wars.

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or Paix des Dames

(French: “Peace of the Ladies”) (August 3, 1529) Agreement ending one phase of the wars between Francis I of France and Emperor Charles V, temporarily confirming Spanish (Habsburg) control in Italy. It was called the Paix des Dames because it was negotiated by Louise of Savoy (1476–1531), mother of King Francis and regent in his absence, and Margaret of Austria, aunt of Charles and regent of the Netherlands. See also Treaty of Cateau-Cambrésis.

Learn more about Cambrai, Treaty of with a free trial on Britannica.com.

(March 27, 1802) Agreement signed at Amiens, France, by Britain, France, Spain, and the Batavian Republic (The Netherlands). By the treaty, France and its allies recovered most of their colonies, despite their military reverses overseas. The treaty ignored continuing trade differences between Britain and France, but it achieved a peace in Europe for 14 months during the Napoleonic Wars.

Learn more about Amiens, Treaty of with a free trial on Britannica.com.

(Oct. 18, 1748) Treaty that ended the War of the Austrian Succession. The treaty, negotiated largely by Britain and France, was marked by the mutual restitution of conquests, including the fortress of Louisbourg (in Nova Scotia) to France and Madras (now Chennai; in India) to England. It preserved Maria Theresa's right to the Austrian lands, but the Habsburgs were weakened by Prussia's retention of Silesia. The treaty did not resolve any issues in the commercial colonial struggle between England and France and thus did not lead to a lasting peace.

Learn more about Aix-la-Chapelle, Treaty of with a free trial on Britannica.com.

A Treaty is an agreement under international law entered into by actors in international law, namely states and international organizations. A Treaty may also be known as: (international) agreement, protocol, covenant, convention, exchange of letters, exchange of notes, accord, memorandum of understanding, etc. Regardless of the terminology, all of these international agreements under international law are equally treaties and the rules are the same. Note that in United States constitutional law, the term "treaty" has a special meaning which is more restricted than its meaning in international law; see below.

Treaties can be loosely compared to contracts: both are means of willing parties assuming obligations among themselves, and a party to either that fails to live up to their obligations can be held liable under international law for that breach. The central principle of treaty law is expressed in the maxim pacta sunt servanda—"pacts must be respected".

Bilateral and multilateral treaties

A multilateral treaty has several differnces, and establishes rights and obligations between each party and every other party. Multilateral treaties are often, but not always, open to any state; others are regional.

Bilateral treaties by contrast are negotiated between a limited number of states, most commonly only two, establishing legal rights and obligations between those two states only. It is possible however for a bilateral treaty to have more than two parties; consider for instance the bilateral treaties between Switzerland and the European Union (EU) following the Swiss rejection of the European Economic Area agreement. Each of these treaties has seventeen parties. These however are still bilateral, not multilateral, treaties. 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.

Adding and amendment treaty obligations

Reservations

Reservations are essentially caveats to a state's acceptance of a treaty. Reservations are a unilateral statement 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—a party cannot add a reservation after it has already joined a treaty.

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, formal amendment requires States parties to the treaty to go through the ratification process all over again. The re-negotiation 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 a 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, or administrative (not principled changes). Finally, a change in customary international law (state behavior) 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 procès-verbal; 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 (UNFCCC) established a framework for the development of binding greenhouse gas emission limits, while the 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, as a non-self-executing treaty cannot be acted upon 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 Vienna Convention 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 an additional 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 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.

Ending treaty obligations

See also: Denunciation

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. Many treaties expressly forbid withdrawal. Other treaties are silent on the issue, and so if a state attempts withdrawal through its own unilateral denunciation of the treaty, a determination must be made regarding whether permitting withdrawal is contrary to the original intent of the parties or to the nature of the treaty. Human rights treaties, for example, are generally interpreted to exclude the possibility of withdrawal, because of the importance and permanence of the obligations.

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 of course terminates the treaty. When a state withdraws from a multi-lateral treaty, that treaty will still otherwise remain in force between the other parties, unless, of course, 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. The issue must be presented to an international tribunal or arbiter (usually specified in the treaty itself) to legally establish that a sufficiently serious breach has in fact occurred. Otherwise, a party that prematurely and perhaps wrongfully suspends or terminates its own obligations due to an alleged breach itself runs the risk of being held liable for breach. Additionally, parties may choose to overlook treaty breaches while still maintaining their own obligations towards the party in 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.

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 errors at the formation of the treaty.

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 law. 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.

Non-Compliance to the Municipal Law

Treaties can't be a violation of domestic law.

Misunderstanding, fraud, corruption, coercion

Articles 46-53 of the Vienna Convention 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 state'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.

Peremptory norms

A treaty is null and void if it is in violation of a peremptory norm. 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 genocide, slavery, torture, and piracy, meaning that no state can legally assume an obligation to commit or permit such acts.

Role of the United Nations

The United Nations Charter states that treaties must be registered with the UN to be invoked before it or enforced in its judiciary organ, the International Court of Justice. This was done to prevent the proliferation of secret treaties that occurred in the 19th and 20th century. The Charter also states that its members' obligations under it outweigh any competing obligations under other treaties.

After their adoption, treaties as well as their amendments have to follow the official legal procedures of the United Nations, as applied by the Office of Legal Affairs, including signature, ratification and entry into force.

In function and effectiveness, the UN has been compared to the pre-Constitutional United States Federal government by some, giving a comparison between modern treaty law and the historical Articles of Confederation.

Relation between national law and treaties by country

United States law

In the United States, the term "treaty" is used in a more restricted legal sense than in international law. U.S. law distinguishes what it calls treaties from treaty executive agreements, congressional-executive agreements, and sole executive agreements. All four classes are equally treaties under international law; they are distinct only from the perspective of internal American law. The distinctions are primarily concerning their method of ratification. Where treaties require advice and consent by two-thirds of the Senate, sole executive agreements may be executed by the President acting alone. Some treaties grant the President the authority to fill in the gaps with executive agreements, rather than additional treaties or protocols. And finally, Congressional executive agreements require majority approval by both the House and the Senate, either before or after the treaty is signed by the President.

Currently, international agreements are executed by executive agreement rather than treaties at a rate of 10:1. Despite the relative ease of executive agreements, the President still often chooses to pursue the formal treaty process over an executive agreement in order to gain Congressional support on matters that require the Congress to pass implementing legislation or appropriate funds, and those agreements that impose long-term, complex legal obligations on the U.S.

Brazilian law

Article 84 of the Brazilian federal constitution of 1988 sets out, in its clause VIII, that the president is the only one capable of signing international treaties; its internal implementation, however, demands the approval of the Congress (Chamber of Deputies, together with the Senate), according to Article 49, paragraph I of the constitution.

Treaties and indigenous peoples

Treaties formed an important part of European colonization and, in many parts of the world, Europeans attempted to legitimize their sovereignty by signing treaties with indigenous peoples. In most cases these treaties were in extremely disadvantageous terms to the native people, who often did not appreciate the implications of what they were signing.

In some rare cases, such as with Ethiopia and Qing Dynasty China, the 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 a power from overstepping their agreement or by playing different powers against each other.

In other cases, such as New Zealand and Canada, treaties allowed native peoples to maintain a minimum amount of autonomy. In the case of indigenous Australians, unlike with the Māori of New Zealand, no treaty was ever entered into with the indigenous peoples entitling the Europeans to land ownership. 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.

See also

Notes

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