080713jackspence_treatymakingupdated.doc - 08 JULY 2013 TREATY-MAKING AND INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS PROFESSOR JACK SPENCE OBE"All then is to do is to

080713jackspence_treatymakingupdated.doc - 08 JULY 2013...

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08 J ULY 2013 T REATY -M AKING AND I NTERNATIONAL R ELATIONS P ROFESSOR J ACK S PENCE OBE "All then is to do is to publish the secret treaties. Then I will issue a few proclamations and then close the shop". Leon Trotsky, Commissioner for Foreign Affairs (Bolshevik leader). "Treaties are but the combat of the brain where still the strongest lose, the weaker gain". John Dryden Introduction May I begin by citing the kind lady who does the heavy lifting in our Herefordshire garden; she asked what I was writing and I replied that I was working on a talk on treaties. Her response was "Oh you mean the agreements that states make and then break!" I replied that that did happen at times, but I was more concerned to ask why they were kept". Let me by way of preliminary emphasise that the literature on treaties is vast and I can only in the space of an hour's lecture skim the surface, though items on my bibliography might be read with profit by those who wish to take the subject further. This year marks the tri-centenary of the Treaty of Utrecht, the significance of which I will discuss shortly. Indeed, the decision by the organisers to host this lecture was, in effect, to illustrate the key significance of that agreement in the history of international relations. First, a standard definition of a treaty: a written contract or agreement between two or more parties which is considered binding in international law. Parties to treaties may be states, heads of state, governments or international organisations. They are normally diplomatically negotiated by plenipotentiaries on behalf of governments and are usually subject to ratification which is an executive act … treaties are an important source of international law …. (Evans and Newnham, pp. 542-3). 1 | P a g e
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Every treaty and international agreement has to be registered at the United Nations (article 102 of the Charter of the UN) while in Britain, for example, all treaties have to lie on the table of the House of Commons for 21 days. This commitment is designed to promote accountability and transparency and was a reaction to the secrecy of treaty making, a characteristic of great powers before World War I and which critics argued was one of the main causes of the 1914-18 conflict. It was argued during the war that if European electorates had known what was being negotiated in their name they would have rebelled against the commitment explicit in those treaties. And the revulsion against secrecy was profoundly and publicly symbolised by the US President, Woodrow Wilson's call during the war for 'open covenants, openly arrived at' which gave powerful impetus for the demand to end secret treaty making. At this point it might be appropriate to offer a definition of diplomacy. It normally refers to the business of negotiation of treaties (inter-alia) between states and has been well defined by M S Anderson as "the symbol of regulated and organised contacts which Europe had evolved … and which with all its faults was one of her more important gifts to the world".
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