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date: 17 February 2020

Summary and Keywords

Treaties are agreements between sovereign states, and occasionally between states and international organizations. Treaties can include conventions, covenants, charters, and statutes, all of which are legally binding under international law. There are two main types of treaties: bilateral and multilateral. Bilateral agreements are concluded by a limited number of states (usually two), and typically address a narrow set of issues that are unique to specific parties and particular circumstances. Multilateral treaties, on the other hand, establish generalized principles of conduct that apply to a wide range of states without regard to the future particularistic interests of the parties or the strategic exigencies that may exist in a particular occurrence. Treaties can serve a wide variety of functions: ending wars and establishing conditions for peace; creating new international organizations or alliances; generating new rules of coexistence and cooperation; regulating a particular type of behavior; distributing resources; and initiating new rights and obligations for future relations. No single organization or agency has the authority to enforce treaty commitment. Rather, treaties can be enforced in at least two ways. First, states can use diplomatic, economic, and/or military coercion. Second, some treaties establish their own enforcement mechanisms; for example Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter grants enforcement authority to the Security Council.

Keywords: treaties, treaty law, international law, bilateral agreements, multilateral agreements

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