See Ratification. Accession is the usual method by which a State, which has not taken part in the negotiations or signed the treaty, may subsequently consent to be bound by its terms. The treaty may stipulate accession by certain States. In that case, these States have a right to accede to the treaty. Accession may also require an invitation to accede decided by the Committee of Ministers, upon request of the State interested. In general, accession is permitted after the entry into force of the treaty.
The Committee of Ministers adopts Treaties, by a decision taken by a two-thirds majority of the Representatives casting a vote and a majority of the Representatives entitled to sit on the Committee. When adopted, the text of the treaty is definitive.
A communication is a declaration by which a State expresses its views relating to the treaty, notifies a new domestic law or specify the content of a domestic law in relation with the treaty, rectify an error or an omission made upon ratification. Communications may be made under the terms of the treaty, for example when a State has to designate a competent national authority, or formulated spontaneously by States.
A declaration is a notification by which a State clarifies the meaning or the scope it gives to a treaty or to a provision, or by which a State sets down the reasons for becoming a Party.
The depositary of the European treaties is the Secretary-General of the Council of Europe. He/she receives and transmits all the States’ notifications related to the life of the treaties: signatures, ratifications, acceptances and accessions, reservations and declarations, etc. He/she is the guardian of the treaties.
Entry into force
The treaty comes into force when a sufficient number of States have expressed their consent to be bound by the treaty. Then, the treaty has a legal existence in the international legal system and in the legal systems of States Parties.
ETS and CETS
Conventions and agreements opened for signature between 1949 and 2003 were published in the "European Treaty Series" (ETS No. 1 to 193 included). Since 2004, this Series is continued by the "Council of Europe Treaty Series" (CETS No. 194 and following).
Since 1965, each newly adopted treaty has an explanatory report which details the main steps of its elaboration and comments article by article the raison d’être and the meaning of the provisions of the treaty. Since 2001, all the explanatory reports are public. The explanatory report does not constitute an instrument providing an authoritative interpretation of the treaty.
An interpretative declaration is a declaration by which a State sets down the meaning he gives to a provision of the treaty.
Opening for signature
When the treaty is adopted, the Committee of Ministers opens the treaty for signature, by a decision taken by a two-thirds majority of the Representatives casting a vote and a majority of the Representatives entitled to sit on the Committee. (See Statutory Resolution (93) 27 on majorities required for decisions of the Committee of Ministers, adopted by the Committee of Ministers, on 14 May 1993). After the date of opening for signature, States may sign and ratify the treaty.
A partial agreement is a particular form of agreement, which allows some member States of the Council of Europe to participate in an activity in spite of the abstention of other member States.
Parties to a treaty are the States or the International Organisations, which have consented to be bound by the treaty and for which the treaty is in force (See Article 2 of the Vienna Convention on the law of treaties). Parties to European treaties may be the member States of the Council of Europe, non-member States, the European Community.
A protocol is a legal instrument, which complements, amends or modifies the main treaty.
Ratification is an act by which the State expresses its definitive consent to be bound by the treaty. Then, the State Party must respect the provisions of the treaty and implement it.
A reservation is «a unilateral statement, however phrased or named, made by a State, when signing, ratifying, accepting, approving or acceding to a treaty, whereby it purports to exclude or to modify the legal effect of certain provisions of the treaty in their application to that State» (See Article 2 of the Vienna Convention).
Signature of a treaty is an act by which the State expresses its interest to the treaty and its intention to become a Party. The State is not bound by the signature. However, he has the obligation not to defeat the object and purpose of the treaty until it has made its intention clear not to become a Party to the treaty (See Article 18 of the Vienna Convention).
A territorial declaration is a declaration by which a State specifies the territory or territories to which the treaty will apply.
A treaty is «an international agreement concluded between States in written form and governed by international law, whether embodied in a single instrument or in two or more related instruments and whatever its particular designation» (See Article 2 of the Vienna Convention).
The European Treaties Series contains «conventions», «agreements», «charters», «codes», «framework convention» and «outline convention». All these legal instruments are treaties as defined by the Vienna Convention.
The sole difference between «conventions» and «agreements» is the form in which a State may express its consent to be bound. Agreements may be signed with or without reservation as to ratification, acceptance or approval. Conventions may, in principle, be ratified. See Model final clauses for conventions and agreements concluded within the Council of Europe.
The treaties concluded within the Council of Europe are multilateral treaties, which means that they are concluded between more than two States. Only two bilateral treaties were concluded within the Council of Europe. They were concluded between the Council of Europe and France, hosting State of the Organisation: the Special Agreement relating to the seat of the Council of Europe, 2 September 1949, and the Supplementary Agreement amending certain provisions of the General Agreement on Privileges and Immunities of the Council of Europe, 18 March 1950.
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- Pratique du Dépositaire du Conseil de l'Europe