Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties
Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties Signatories (light green) and ratifications (dark green) of the convention Signed 23 May 1969 Location Vienna Effective 27 January 1980 Condition Ratification by 35 states Signatories 126 Parties 111 (as of April 2011) Depositary UN Secretary-General Languages Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish
The Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties (or VCLT) is a treaty concerning the international law on treaties between states. It was adopted on 22 May 1969 and opened for signature on 23 May 1969. The Convention entered into force on 27 January 1980. The VCLT has been ratified by 111 states as of November 2010. Some countries that have not ratified the Convention recognize it as a restatement of customary law and binding upon them as such.
The VCLT was drafted by the International Law Commission (ILC) of the United Nations, which began work on the Convention in 1949. During the twenty years of preparation, several draft versions of the convention and commentaries were prepared by special rapporteurs of the ILC. James Brierly, Sir Hersch Lauterpacht, Sir Gerald Fitzmaurice and Sir Humphrey Waldock were the four special rapporteurs. In 1966, the ILC adopted 75 draft articles which formed the basis for the final work. Over two sessions in 1968 and 1969, the Vienna Conference completed the Convention, which was adopted on 22 May 1969 and opened for signature the following day.
Content and effects
The Convention codifies several bedrocks of contemporary international law. It defines a treaty as "an international agreement concluded between states in written form and governed by international law," as well as affirming that "every state possesses the capacity to conclude treaties." Most nations, whether they are party to it or not, recognize it as the preeminent "Treaty of Treaties"; it is widely recognized as the authoritative guide vis-à-vis the formation and effects of treaties.
The scope of the Convention is limited. It applies only to treaties concluded between states, so it does not cover agreements between states and international organizations or between international organizations themselves, though if any of its rules are independently binding on such organizations, they remain so. It does apply, however, to treaties between states within an intergovernmental organization. Agreements between states and international organizations, or between international organizations themselves, will be governed by the 1986 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties between States and International Organizations or Between International Organizations if it ever enters into force. Also, in treaties between states and international organizations, the terms of the Convention still apply between the state members. The Convention does not apply to agreements not in written form.
State parties to the convention
There are 111 state parties that have ratified the convention, and 15 states have signed but have not yet ratified the convention. These countries are: Afghanistan, Bolivia, Cambodia, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Ghana, Iran, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Madagascar, Nepal, Pakistan, Trinidad and Tobago, United States, Zambia.
International treaties and conventions contain rules about what entities could sign, ratify or accede to them. Some treaties are restricted to states members of the UN or parties to the Statute of the International Court of Justice. In rare cases there is an explicit list of the entities that the treaty is restricted to. More commonly the aim of the founding signatories is that the treaty is not restricted to particular states only and so a wording like "this treaty is open for signature to States willing to accept its provisions" is used (the so-called "All States formula").
When a treaty is open to "States", for the depositary authority it is difficult or impossible to determine which entities are States. If the treaty is restricted to Members of the United Nations or Parties to the Statute of the International Court of Justice, there is no ambiguity. However, a difficulty has occurred as to possible participation in treaties when entities which appeared otherwise to be States could not be admitted to the United Nations, nor become Parties to the Statute of the International Court of Justice owing to the opposition, for political reasons, of a permanent member of the Security Council or haven't applied for ICJ or UN membership. Since that difficulty did not arise as concerns membership in the specialized agencies, where there is no "veto" procedure, a number of those States became members of specialized agencies, and as such were in essence recognized as States by the international community. Accordingly, and in order to allow for as wide a participation as possible, a number of conventions then provided that they were also open for participation to States members of specialized agencies. The type of entry-into-force clause utilized in the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties was later called the "Vienna formula" and its wording was utilized by various treaties, conventions and organizations.
Some treaties that utilize it include provisions that in addition to these States any other State invited by a specified authority or organization (commonly the UNGA or an institution created by the treaty in question) can also participate, thus making the scope of potential signatories even broader.
The present Convention shall be open for signature by all States Members of the United Nations or of any of the specialized agencies or of the International Atomic Energy Agency or parties to the Statute of the International Court of Justice, and by any other State invited by the General Assembly of the United Nations to become a party to the Convention, as follows: until 30 November 1969, at the Federal Ministry for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Austria, and subsequently, until 30 April 1970, at United Nations Headquarters, New York.
— Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, 1969, Article 81, Signature
- Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations (1961)
- Vienna Convention on Consular Relations (1963)
- List of Vienna conventions
- Convention Text (PDF)
- Damrosch, Henkin, et al., International Law, West Group 2001.
- untreaty.un.org, Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties 1969 (PDF), Done at Vienna on 23 May 1969. Entered into force on 27 January 1980. United Nations, Treaty Series, vol. 1155, p. 331 (backup in html)
- Text of the treaty at the Center for a World in Balance
- ^ a b c d Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, pg. 1
- ^ a b c d e untreaty.un.org, Law of treaties, International Law Commission, last update: 30 June 2005. Consulted on 7 December 2008.
- ^ treaties.un.org, Status of Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties
- ^ a b Brownlie, Ian (1998). Principles of Public International Law (5th ed.). Oxford University Press. pp. 607–08. ISBN 0-19-876299-2.
- ^ a b c Article 3 of the Convention.
- ^ Articles 2 and 5 of the Convention
- ^ "Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties". United Nations Treaty Collection. United Nations. http://treaties.un.org/pages/ViewDetailsIII.aspx?&src=UNTSONLINE&mtdsg_no=XXIII~1&chapter=23&Temp=mtdsg3&lang=en. Retrieved 13 June 2011.
- ^ All States are defined as all UN member states and states about which there are individual statements of inclusion by the UN Secretary-General or other UN organ. Repertory of Practice of United Nations Organs Supplement No. 8; page 10, UN THE WORLD TODAY (PDF).
The United Nations Secretary-General has stated that when the "any State" or "all States" formula is adopted, he would be able to implement it only if the General Assembly provided him with the complete list of the States coming within the formula, other than those falling within the "Vienna formula". UN Office of Legal Affairs
- ^ The UN Secretary-General or some other competent authority defined in the treaty in question, e.g. Switzerland for the Geneva Conventions - see special cases.
- ^ UN Legal Affairs the so-called "Vienna formula".
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