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Public International Law Research

A guide that highlights resources and recommended strategies for conducting research on international law topics.

Understanding Basic Treaties Terminology

Treaties Terminology

A treaty is defined as "any international agreement in written form concluded between two or more States or other subjects of international law and governed by international law."

  • Treaties are often characterized according to the number of signatory nations. Bilateral treaties are those involving two nations, and they typically resemble contracts. Multilateral treaties are those involving more than two nations, and they can address a variety of international issues or concerns.
  • Treaties may also go by a variety of names, including: convention, protocol, covenant, charter, statute, act, declaration, agreement, partnership, etc.

For more information on treaties and their purposes, please see James Crawford, Brownlee's Principles of Public International Law 369-371 (8th ed. 2012).

Background Reading on Treaties and Other International Agreements