Treaty Definition

Treaty Definition

Legal Issues

Treaty can perhaps be understood in two different senses. In a narrower sense, it refers to an international agreement entered into between states; in a wider sense, it refers to international agreements not only between states, but also between a state and an inter-national organization. International organizations, for example, the European Union (EU) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), form a separate category of international entity because they are not sovereign ‘states’ in international law. For example, article 2(1)(a) of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, signed in 1969, provides that a treaty under the Convention is ‘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’. This definition represents the narrow meaning of international treaties. It simply means that the Convention applies only to the type of treaties so prescribed. It follows that an international agreement signed between a state and a UN body or an international organization (for example, the World Bank) is not governed by the Convention, although it may be regarded as an international treaty because it operates at an international level.(1)



  1. John Mo, International Commercial Law



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