Research Handbooks in International Law series
Edited by Christian J. Tams, Antonios Tzanakopoulos and Andreas Zimmermann
Chapter 5: The effects of treaties in domestic law
Treaties, while operating primarily at international level, by definition require a legal connection to the national level. They cannot stand on their own feet. State organs, whether of the legislative, the executive or the judicial branch, will need to be empowered by national law to perform acts that are required by the treaty. The treaty may also require that (part of) its content is made part of national law. The connection between treaties and domestic law is particularly relevant when treaties regulate matters that are also dealt with by domestic law and determine the position of private individuals who by their very nature are (primarily) subjected to national law. The question then is how treaties acquire effect at national level. A range of sub-questions follow. What is the influence of international law itself on the effects of a treaty at national level? What properties of a treaty may be conducive to or limiting such national effect? What techniques do States apply to determine the ways and extent in which a treaty acquires legal effect in domestic law? Under what conditions and with what effects do they allow a national court to apply the rules of a treaty? Obviously, the domestic effect of treaties is not just a matter of technique. It serves important policy objectives and reflects deeply political questions. In the final analysis, determining whether and how a treaty has direct effect requires an answer to the question of who has, or should have, the final authority to determine the contents of
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