Procedural guide for signing international treaties, conventions and Memorandums of Understanding:
The signing of treaties, conventions and Memorandums of Understanding puts into order a number of international commitments that fall upon a state’s responsibilities in a bid to ensure the organizing of a specific issue through treaties, conventions and similar agreements.
Prior to signing a treaty, convention or Memorandum of Understanding, the concerned state will work through a number of procedures and processes that are placed to study all aspects of the treaty in order to determine the feasibility of its implementation and its compatibility with the state’s sovereignty, internal legislation and strategic and developmental plans.
It is known that the process of signing the aforementioned agreements undergoes several phases and procedures, as a treaty or a convention is considered to be non-conforming until all parties involved have expressed their final approval of committing to the treaty’s provisions, following several stages of negotiations and discussions between the assigned representatives of each party. The next phase will involve editing and signing the treaty, and the final stage will consist of the ratification of the treaty which consolidates the commitment of the signatory state to the agreement or treaty. The ratification process can take on several labels such as: acceptance, approval or joining.
Important terms in international relations:
The term ‘treaty’ refers to an international and strategic political or military agreement signed as part of a compromise between two or more states. In international law, the treaty involves the agreement of state parties and others from international law officials and it deals with organizing relations which are governed by international law. The treaty consists of rights and commitments that fall upon the responsibilities of the signatories.
Treaties often hold significant political weight as they can come in the form of reconciliation treaties or alliance treaties such as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Treaties are signed through official and legal channels beginning with negotiations, followed by signing them by the assigned delegates, and ratified by the Head of State, and ending with the exchange of the ratification documents which are given executive powers following their ratification by the legislative authority.
A bilateral treaty is one that is signed by two states while a multilateral treaty is one that is signed between a number of states or based on the initiative of an international relations with the goal of organizing issues that affect the interests of the international community as a whole.
Treaties lead to legal results and treat a specific issue by settling a political cause, establishing an alliance, determining the rights and commitments of each signatory, adopting a set of general principles or setting the conditions of ceasefires, reconciliation and peace.
Partnerships and agreements signed between the state and individuals are not classified as treaties.
The term ‘convention’ refers to international agreements developed between countries on issues related to social, economic, commercial, consular or military affairs. Conventions can also be agreements which contain general international principles and rules or they can be a form of conflict resolution between parties. Although conventions hold less significance than treaties, once they are ratified, governments are obliged to respect its principles and to harmonize its laws with the convention Examples of conventions: The Hague Convention, the Geneva Conventions and the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions.
Within the context of international relations, the term ‘accord’ or ‘agreement’ refers to a form of understanding or contract between parties to regulate a specific issue, in which the parties are obliged to adhere to its commitments and rights in the areas of politics, economics, culture and intellectual property. An accord is classified as less significant than a treaty or a convention. An accord may be secretive, verbal or fleeting, it may be signed as bilateral or multilateral and its duration may be for the short-term or the long-term. An accord or agreement is reached through negotiations, after which it is signed, ratified and published.
The term ‘protocol’ refers to a number of decisions and procedures followed by the government, as well as a number of decisions issued in a conference or a society. In the context of international law, it refers to a number of procedures and arrangements taken following the signing of a treaty, prior to ratifying it, in order to allow for procedural amendments. Protocols rank fourth in significance behind treaties, conventions and accords.
A charter is an international agreement to establish an international organization, such as the United Nations charter and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation charter.
Memorandum of Understanding:
A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) is a provisional agreement between countries over a certain issue which serves as a framework for developing a more elaborate, multidimensional treaty or convention on an international level.
Most Favoured Nation:
The term ‘most favoured nation’ (MFN) is used within the context of commercial treaties between countries, in which each signatory state pledges to grant the other state the right to enjoy trade advantages and privileges, such as low tariffs and high import quotas. The MFN status is considered to reflect an advanced level of friendship between countries.
Reciprocity’ is a diplomatic principle in international relations which advocates that favors, benefits or penalties between citizens of two or more countries that have signed a treaty in a specific area, should be returned in kind.
A reservation is when a unilateral statement placed by a state when signing, ratifying, accepting, approving or acceding to a treaty, which allows it to exclude the legal obligations of certain provisions of the treaty or to interpret them in a specific way. Reservations are commonly placed in multilateral treaties.