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We often come across several terms of common parlancewhilereading about global, multilateral and bilateral events.  It is interesting to know the meaning of these terms.

  • Convention-‘Convention’ tends to be used for multilateral treaties of law- making likethe UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Civil Aviation.
  • Treaty– Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties defines ‘Treaty ‘as “an international agreement concluded between States in written form and governed by international law”. It is an international instrument which is intended to have an obligatory or binding character.

‘Treaty’ is also used for international agreements of a particularly significant character, for example, treaties of peace or alliances like the North Atlantic Treaty (NATO) of 4 April 1949.

Formerly, ‘Treaties’ in the restricted sense were always concluded between Heads of State; but in modern practice‘Treaties’ are also concluded in the Heads of State form, Interstate form or in intergovernmental form.

  • Agreements– ‘Agreements’ covers convergence of views and understandings between Governments and have an obligatory character, but usually of a less formal or significant nature than a ‘Treaty’ or ‘Convention’.
  • Declaration– ‘Declaration’ contains pronouncement of policy, expressive of a shared or common purpose.
  • Protocols embrace the concept of something which is added to a ‘Treaty’ in order to complete the Treaty or a summary of the official proceedings or the proper method of doing things, including official etiquette.

– Jenena Oliver


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