The Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties (.pdf) defines a treaty as "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."
Treaties can be referred to by a number of different names: international conventions, international agreements, covenants, final acts, charters, memorandums of understandings (MOUs), protocols, pacts, accords, and constitutions for international organizations. Usually, these different names have no legal significance in international law.
Treaties may be bilateral (two parties) or multilateral (between several parties) and a treaty is usually only binding on the parties to the agreement. An agreement "enters into force" when the terms for entry into force as specified in the agreement are met. Bilateral treaties usually enter into force when both parties agree to be bound as of a certain date.
For definitions of key terms, see the U.N. Treaty Reference Guide.
This list highlights some of the most frequently cited multilateral agreements related to the environment as there are many, many environmental treaties.
The Taggart Law Library is here to help! Schedule an appointment with a librarian or chat with us using our online chat feature. Open to ONU Law students, faculty, staff, and alumni.