International agreements are formal agreements or commitments between two or more countries. An agreement between two countries is described as “bilateral,” while an agreement between several countries is “multilateral.” Countries bound by countries bound by an international convention are generally referred to as “Parties.” The IHR (2005) is an international agreement between 194 States Parties and the World Health Organization on surveillance, sunshine and response to all events that could pose a threat to international public health. The objective of the IHR (2005) is to prevent, protect, control and respond to a public health response to the spread of diseases internationally, in a manner adapted to public health risks, limited to them, avoiding unnecessary intervention in international transport and trade. (International Health Regulations, Article 2). For more information, please see THE LA fact sheets. In addition to treaties, there are other less formal international agreements. These include efforts such as the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) and the G7 Global Partnership Against the Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction. Although the PSI has a “declaration of prohibition principles” and the G7 Global Partnership includes several statements by G7 heads of state and government, it also does not have a legally binding document that sets specific obligations and is signed or ratified by member states. Under international law, a treaty is a legally binding agreement between states (countries). A treaty can be called a convention, protocol, pact, agreement, etc. It is the content of the agreement, not its name, that makes it a treaty. Thus, the Geneva Protocol and the Biological Weapons Convention are the two treaties, although neither treaty in its name. Under U.S.
law, a treaty is a legally binding agreement between countries that requires ratification and “consultation and approval” of the Senate. All other agreements (internationally treated) are called executive agreements, but are nevertheless legally binding on the United States under international law. If a contract does not contain provisions for other agreements or measures, only the text of the treaty is legally binding. In general, an amendment to the Treaty only commits the States that have ratified it and the agreements reached at review conferences, summits or meetings of the States Parties are not legally binding. The Charter of the United Nations is an example of a treaty that contains provisions for other binding agreements. By signing and ratifying the Charter, countries have agreed to be legally bound by resolutions adopted by UN bodies such as the General Assembly and the Security Council. Therefore, UN resolutions are legally binding on UN member states and no signature or ratification is required. The Australian Group (AG) is an informal forum of countries that, by harmonizing export controls, wants to ensure that exports do not contribute to the development of chemical or biological weapons.