go to


Chapter Five: The Emerging World Order

Section 4: Treaties


 go to

 Mexican Dance by Russian Dancers, 1998.



Treaties, and to a lesser extent executive agreements, have a clearer status partly because of their explicit and voluntary nature. Until recently, they have been considered on a par with domestic statutes superceding common law and the laws of inferior political subdivisions:



This court has also repeatedly taken the position that an act of Congress is on a full parity with a treaty, and that when a statute, which is subsequent in time, is inconsistent with a treaty, the statute to the extent of conflict renders the treaty null. (Reid V. Covert, 354 U.S. 1, 18, 77 S.Ct 1222, 1231 [1957]).



The dark side of this parity, as indicated by the above quote, is that treaties are relegated to the status of unbinding agreements. Such a rule impairs the effectiveness of a treaty as a tool to organize political and economic transactions.



The emergence of more intricate multilateral treaties has led some countries to raise the status of treaties above that of domestic statutes. For example, the French Constitution of October 27, 1946 specifies that "diplomatic treaties duly ratified and published shall have the force of law even when they are contrary to internal French legislation...". and the courts have held that treaties prevail even over subsequent legislation. A similar provision is incorporated into the Netherlands Constitution.



The 1969 proceedings of the American Society of International Law indicate that American law will follow the same course. Again, this is evidence of a willingness on the part of nations to relinquish a little sovereignty to facilitate international transactions and the development of a world order.







Book Contents

Transcultural Friendship: Our Political Future


 <<Previous Chapter 4

Change as the Status Quo

Chapter 5 Contents

Autocracy and Democracy

Next Chapter 6>> 


<Previous Section

Customary International Law



Next Section> 

Settling Disputes