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This article is written by Tamma kusumanjali of 4th Semester of ICFAI Law School, Hyderabad


The research paper provides a comprehensive overview of international treaties and conventions. This article begins with the historical backdrop of international treaties and conventions because in order to understand international treaties and conventions, we must first understand their origins. subsequently the definition and types of international treaties and conventions, as well as the distinctions between treaties and conventions, are discussed. this paper addresses the role of international treaties and conventions in India and some noteworthy international treaties and conventions since it is crucial to understand the function of such agreements in India. The conclusion of this paper touches on several important elements, goals, and advantages of international treaties and conventions.


International treaties and conventions, international organization, ratification, bilateral treaties, multilateral treaties, human rights protection, trade and investment   


The formal agreements between two or more countries or international organizations in which they establish some legal obligations and standards for conduct in the frame work of international relations are called international treaties and conventions and these agreements address different topics such as trade, environmental protection, arms control and many others. To address global challenges and to maintain good relations among countries international treaties and conventions are very important. They provide a frame work for creating rules and regulations or guidelines for conduct within the international system. It is important to understand about international treaties and conventions as they contribute to the promotion of peace, stability and security.[1]


Early examples of international treaties and conventions can be discovered in prehistoric civilizations like Mesopotamia and Egypt. Perhaps, one of the first treaties ever known was the one created by rulers of Hittite with Ramesses II, who was the King of Egypt. The history of these agreements goes back thousands of years.[2]

 However, with the signing of the Peace of Westphalia in 1648, which put an end to the Thirty Years’ War and established the notion of state sovereignty, the present system of international treaties and conventions started to take shape in the 17th century. The norms governing international relations were shaped by a number of key treaties and conventions signed during the 18th and 19th centuries. For instance, the 1763 Treaty of Paris put an end to the Seven Years’ War and established new geographical arrangements. After the Napoleonic Wars, the Congress of Vienna in 1815 sought to bring stability back to Europe. As a result, a number of treaties were signed, changing the continent’s political landscape. The creation of the League of Nations following World War I was a key breakthrough in the realm of international treaties and conventions in the 20th century. The League used collective security and arbitration to advance peace and settle disputes. However, due to its limited efficiency, the United Nations (UN) eventually took its place in 1945. Numerous treaties and conventions covering a wide range of concerns were drafted with the UN’s help. One of the most significant human rights treaties in history is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1948. Other significant treaties include the Paris Climate Change Agreement, which tries to address global warming, and the Geneva Conventions, which establish guidelines for the protection of civilians and prisoners of war during armed conflicts. Ultimately, the development of global governance and ongoing efforts to establish laws and norms for international interactions are reflected in the history of international treaties and conventions. The present international system has been shaped by these agreements, which also address important global issues.[3]


Conventions and international treaties are binding contracts between two or more nations or international organizations. They are used to set guidelines, norms, and laws governing a range of intergovernmental affairs, including trade, human rights, the environment, and disarmament. Conventions and treaties are negotiated by the parties involved, and after they are reached an agreement, they are often approved by the governments of every nation that signs. By ratifying a treaty or convention, a nation declares that it accepts the terms of the agreement and will apply them to its own legal framework.[4]

There are several types of international treaties, such as

1) Bilateral treaties

Bilateral treaties are agreements made between two states. The obligations stated therein that were agreed upon by the two states are binding on both of them. A bipartite treaty is another name for a bilateral agreement. The Camp David Accords, which were signed by Israel and Egypt in 1978, are the most usual example of this type of agreement. The Accords were a bilateral agreement because they involved only two governments.[5]

2) Multilateral treaties

They are the treaties that a number of states have signed. A single state does not automatically participate into a multilateral treaty by signing the same agreement with many states separately. A single treaty that numerous states have signed is known as a multilateral treaty. For instance, the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) was ratified by 189 States and is a multilateral agreement.  There are numerous other examples, such as the UNCLOS, which is the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea[6]

3) Regional treaties: These are agreements made by nations in a particular area. For instance, the United States, Canada, and Mexico have a regional trade agreement called the North American Free Trade agreement (NAFTA).

4)Global treaties: These are accords that the entire world has accepted and that are binding on all nations. The Paris Climate Change Agreement and the United Nations Charter are two examples.


 Although “treaty” and “convention” are frequently used synonymously, there is a technical distinction between the two. A legally binding agreement between two or more independent states or international organizations is called a treaty. Representatives from the parties involved negotiate and sign it, and each participating state’s government must ratify it. A treaty can be used as legal precedent in a nation’s courts once it has been approved. The purpose of a convention, on the other hand, is to encourage consistency and uniformity in the application of international law. Conventions, which aim to set uniform standards and norms for all governments, are frequently negotiated by international organizations like the United Nations. Conventions, in contrast to other treaties, frequently become legally binding upon acceptance by all parties without the need for individual state ratification. The phrases “treaty” and “convention” are frequently used synonymously in practice, and it is not always easy to tell them apart. However, a treaty and a convention differ primarily in that a treaty is a more general term that can refer to any legally binding agreement between states, whereas a convention is a type of treaty that is specifically intended to promote uniformity and consistency in the application of international law.[7]


International treaties and conventions play a significant role in India. Here are some key aspects of their role:

International cooperation:  Treaties and conventions make it easier for India and other nations to collaborate internationally in various types of subjects, including science and technology, education, culture, and health. These agreements offer a framework for cooperation, knowledge sharing, and resource sharing, fostering understanding and growth between the parties.

Human rights protection:  The protection and advancement of human rights in India are significantly influenced by international human rights treaties and conventions. India has signed international agreements such the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). Indian courts may make reference to these treaties when construing and applying domestic laws pertaining to human rights since they provide a framework for the protection of fundamental rights.

Trade and Investment:   Trade and investment treaties between nations are essential to India’s economic relations. The trade policy, market access, and investment protection of India are shaped through agreements made under the World Trade Organization (WTO), in bilateral investment treaties (BITs), and in regional trade agreements. These agreements offer a framework for the law to regulate commercial disputes and safeguard foreign investments.

Environmental Protection:  India’s environmental regulations and practices are influenced by international environmental treaties and conventions. India’s efforts to address climate change, preserve biodiversity, and advance sustainable development are guided by conventions like the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). These international agreements influence domestic environmental laws and policies.

Treaty Supremacy:  In India, the pacta sunt servanda (agreements must be kept) principle is in effect, meaning that ratified international agreements take precedence over domestic legislation. An international treaty takes precedence over domestic law in the event of a conflict. This concept guarantees that India upholds its commitments under treaties and conventions and that it complies with its obligations to the international community.

In general, international treaties and conventions are essential in influencing Indian international law. They have an impact on national legislation, safeguard human rights, direct economic and environmental policies, offer dispute resolution procedures, and encourage global collaboration. India complies with its international commitments and actively contributes to the international legal system by ratifying and integrating these agreements.


 The most significant international treaties and conventions may vary depending on the context and viewpoint of the individual answering the question. However, some of the most well-known and significant international agreements are as follows:

Human Rights Universal Declaration (UDHR): The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), which was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948, outlines the fundamental freedoms and rights to which every person is entitled. It establishes values like equality, freedom from discrimination, and the right to one’s own life, liberty, and security. The UDHR laid the groundwork for other human rights agreements, influencing the growth of international human rights legislation.[8]

Paris Accord: By limiting the rise in global temperatures and increasing adaptation capabilities, the Paris Agreement, enacted in 2015 under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), seeks to tackle climate change. It lays forth a framework for governments to make locally defined contributions to lower greenhouse gas emissions, increase climate resilience, and support poor countries financially and technologically. One of the most important global issues of our time is being addressed by the Paris Agreement, which is a result of a coordinated effort.[9]

United Nations Charter: The United Nations Charter, which formed the UN, is regarded as the cornerstone of contemporary international law. It outlines the objectives and guiding principles of the UN, which include preserving world peace and security, advancing human rights, and safeguarding the environment.

Agreements with the World Trade Organisation (WTO): To encourage a fair, predictable, and open trading system, the WTO has a series of accords that regulate international trade. These agreements address topics like intellectual property, trade in products and services, and systems for resolving disputes. The WTO accords aid in international trade, economic development, and trade barrier reduction by establishing a framework for talks, lowering trade obstacles, and guaranteeing non-discrimination among members.[10]


1. Negotiation and signing: Representatives from the participating nations often participate in negotiations for international treaties and conventions, where they discuss and come to an agreement on the clauses and parameters of the agreement. The treaty or convention is signed by the accredited representatives of the participating countries after the discussions are finished.

2. Ratification: The participating nations must approve the treaty or convention once it has been signed. The official procedure by which a country declares its agreement to be bound by the terms of the agreement is called ratification. This procedure can require getting the nod from the government’s legislative body or executive branch.

3. Entry into Force: A treaty or convention comes into effect after being ratified by an adequate number of the participating countries. Depending on the agreement, certain conditions must be met for it to go into effect. Certain treaties call for a minimum number of ratifications, while others could contain deadlines or limitations.

4. Implementation and Compliance: Participating countries are in charge of putting the treaty’s or convention’s rules into their respective legal frameworks. They must take the required actions to guarantee adherence to the agreed-upon duties. In order to monitor and enforce conformity to the treaty requirements, compliance procedures may be implemented.

5. Protocols and Amendments: Protocols and amendments to international treaties and conventions may be added over time. While protocols may be adopted by a separate agreement, amendments require the approval of participating governments. These changes aid in adapting the agreement to new situations or resolving problems.

6. Monitoring and Review: Numerous treaties and conventions set up procedures for keeping track of compliance and examining how their rules are being put into practise. This could entail regular reporting from participating nations, inspections, assessments, or the formation of specialised committees or bodies.

7. Withdrawal and Termination: If certain requirements are completed, participating countries may choose to leave a treaty or convention. The agreement itself typically specifies the withdrawal procedure. A treaty or convention may also contain provisions for termination, which might happen if specific requirements or deadlines are reached.


To govern the relations between countries and to promote cooperation on a wide range of issues we need to establish some rules and regulations and norms and standards and that is possible by international treaties and conventions. Some of the specific purposes of these international treaties and conventions are promoting peace and security, protecting human rights, promoting trade and economic cooperation, protecting the environment and etc. International treaties have a variety of advantages such as encouraging cooperation, promoting consistency, resolving disputes, protecting human rights, addressing global challenges, increasing predictability.[11]


The fact that international treaties and conventions are frequently challenging to enforce is one of their main drawbacks. While there are international courts and tribunals that can be used to enforce treaty obligations, their usefulness is frequently constrained. It may be difficult to hold states accountable for any violations because they may be reluctant to submit to the authority of international courts or because they may choose to ignore their duties under the treaty. International treaties and conventions have often been criticised for being unnecessarily complicated and challenging to negotiate. A treaty’s negotiation and ratification processes can be protracted and difficult since they involve several parties with conflicting interests and agendas. This may make it challenging to come to a consensus and lead to agreements that are ambiguous or challenging to carry out. Another complaint is that international agreements and conventions might not effectively take into account the requirements and viewpoints of all participants. The interests of the less powerful states may be disregarded or marginalised in situations where the treaty is being negotiated between powerful governments and weaker states. Finally, a few critics contend that political influence and manipulation may be present in international treaties and conventions. Powerful states may exert pressure on other governments to sign or ratify the treaty or alter its terms, regardless of whether doing so is in their best interests. In conclusion, international treaties and conventions have been crucial in encouraging collaboration and tackling global issues, but they are not without their drawbacks. These include challenges with implementation, convoluted negotiation processes, the potential marginalisation of particular parties, and vulnerability to political pressure. Despite these restrictions, international treaties and conventions continue to be crucial tools for fostering interstate cooperation and resolving global problems.[12]


International treaties and conventions are essential tools for governing interstate relations and fostering state cooperation. They offer a framework for addressing global issues including climate change, human rights, and international trade as well as for creating rules and guidelines for conduct in the global community.

These treaties and conventions continue to be crucial tools for fostering global cooperation and addressing difficulties, notwithstanding various restrictions and criticism attached to them. They give governments a way to collaborate and discuss answers to challenging issues, and they create binding legal commitments that can help ensure responsibility and encourage adherence to international law. In general, international treaties and conventions are an essential component of the international system and will continue to be important in determining how governments relate to one another and resolving issues that affect the whole world community. States should continue to negotiate and ratify international treaties and conventions, and they should cooperate to ensure that they are properly put into effect and enforced.

[1]What are international treaties and conventions, planetoflaw, What are international treaties and conventions? – PlanetofLaw. (Last visited on July 7,2023).

[2] Mehak jain, concept of treaties in international law, I pleaders, Concept of Treaties in International Law – iPleaders. (Last visited on July 7,2023).

[3] Siddhartha Gupta, brief introduction to related international treaties and conventions, legal vidhiya, BRIEF INTRODUCTION TO RELATED INTERNATIONAL TREATIES AND CONVENTIONS – Legal Vidhiya. (Last visited on July 7,2023).

[4] Id at 1

[5] What is a treaty and types of treaty, BASICS, https://www.basic-concept.com/c/what-is-a-treaty-and-the-types-of-treaty. (Last visited on July 7,2023).

[6] Ibid.

[7] Id at 1

[8] Id at 2

[9] Id at 2

[10] Id at 2

[11] Id at 1

[12] Id at 1


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