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Validity and Application Of Treaties

A treaty is a binding, legal agreement between two or more sovereign nations.  Treaties are made because of the need for mutual understanding and agreement.

In the United States a treaty is considered valid only if it is consented to by the Senate.  The first step in that process, usually, is review of the treaty to see if it is consistent with United States policies and law.  

The United States State Department reviews each treaty for the administration and prepares a recommendation for the President on whether the United States should validate the treaty. The State Department prepares the documents for submission to the Senate to request approval of the treaty.  A final review of these documents is made by the President’s staff.  If the President considers the treaty in the best interest of the United States, the documents are sent to the Senate, to start the process of consent.

A treaty sent to the Senate for ratification is referred to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.  A review of the histories in the Senate for recent treaties forwarded to that committee indicated various results.  Usually, there is a hearing on the treaty, to determine if there are any public concerns, or need for special legislative implementation.

The submission of a treaty to the Senate may include specific reservations or declarations that should be made, recommended by the administration.

There may be United States laws that need to changed as a result of treaty approval.  A separate legislative bill is introduced by the administration to accomplish this change, and the bill follows the standard process for approval of new laws in the Congress. The Senate may wait for the legislation approval before giving its consent to the treaty.

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