Difference Between a Treaty & a Convention

Treaty vs Convention

A treaty is a term that refers to pacts or agreements between countries or nation-states of the world on various issues. The history of treaties dates back to human civilization when kingdoms and empires fought with each other over petty issues and often signed pacts with each other, which have served as the basis for modern treaties between governments. With the establishment of the United Nations, treaties between countries have been sought to be regulated by international laws. There is another word, convention, that can be confusing for people because it has similar meanings. If one looks up a dictionary, the two words are used as synonyms. However, upon closer examination, it becomes clear that there are differences between a treaty and a convention, and the two are governed by different rules.

A treaty is any written agreement signed by a few countries or international organizations. Signatories to treaties agree to follow certain rules and obligations and accept liabilities for any failure on their part. After the establishment of the UN, countries enter into treaties that are ratified by the United Nations, as this international body has been granted this special power by the member countries of the world. All modern treaties, especially those entered upon by member countries after 1969, are governed by international rules as per the Vienna Convention on the Laws of Treaties (VCLT). This convention forms the backbone of all international treaties since then, as it has been ratified by 111 member states worldwide. In fact, the VCLT is referred to as the Treaty of Treaties worldwide. Treaties between countries are an attempt to end conflict or disagreement between them by reaching common ground. There is no effect on an international treaty if there is a change in government in the country that is part of the treaty, as the provisions of the treaty have to be followed by the new government irrespective of its policies.

A convention is a special type of treaty or agreement between many countries. Many countries of the world begin discussions on a global issue and reach a consensus regarding procedures and actions they all agree to follow. For example, there have been many conventions under the aegis of the United Nations since its inception, such as the Vienna Convention, convention on wetlands, Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, and so on.

Key Takeaways

  • A convention is a special type of international treaty.
  • A treaty comes into force as an attempt to end conflict or disagreement between a few countries, whereas a convention is an attempt by many countries to discuss global issues and reach an agreement to be followed by signatories.
  • Convention is a process that begins with deliberations and ends in an agreement that is drafted and ratified by member countries. On the other hand, a treaty is signed straight away by the members.
Gil Tillard
Gil Tillard
Gil Tillard is an accomplished writer with expertise in creating engaging articles and content across various platforms. His dedication to research and crafting high-quality content has led to over 5 years of professional writing and editing experience. In his personal life, Gil enjoys connecting with people from diverse backgrounds and cultures. His curiosity and eagerness to learn from others fuel his passion for communication. He believes that engaging with strangers can be both enlightening and enjoyable, making it easier to strike up conversations and expand one's horizons.


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