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U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

Domestic Legal Authorities

Treaties are an important legal undertaking both in international and domestic law. On the international plane, a “treaty” is any legally binding agreement between nations that is intended to be governed by international law. On the domestic plane, the word “treaty” refers to an agreement that is made “by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate” (Article II, Section 2, Clause 2 of the U.S. Constitution). International agreements that are not submitted to the Senate for its advice and consent are called “executive agreements.” Presidents have concluded executive agreements solely on their own authority, or, in other cases, they have concluded “congressional-executive agreements,” which depend on some form of legislative authorization before such agreements may enter into force for the United States. In some cases, the legal basis for the President’s conclusion of an executive agreement is derived from a treaty to which the Senate has given its advice and consent to ratification and which is in force for the United States.

The treaty office is confronted with a wide range of questions, for example, regarding the nature of an international agreement, an agreement’s status or effect under domestic law, the legal basis for the conclusion of an agreement by the United States, and whether an agreement should be reported to Congress under the Case-Zablocki Act. We have set forth below the texts of some of the important legal authorities that govern U.S. treaty law and practice:

-U.S. Constitution
-22 CFR Part 181
-11 FAM 700
-1 U.S.C. 112a
-1 U.S.C. 112b
-1 U.S.C. 113
-Delegation of Authority 311: Negotiation, Signature, and Termination of Treaties and Other International Agreements
-Delegation of Authority 293: Organization, functions, and authority delegations: Director of Foreign Assistance, et al.


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