In the realm of international relations, treaties and executive agreements are two common grounds for regulating transactions and relationships between nations. However, the question of which is more prevalent between the two remains an ongoing debate. In this article, we will explore and examine the differences between treaties and executive agreements, and determine which is more commonly used.
Let’s begin with a basic understanding of each term.
A treaty is an official agreement between two or more nations, which outlines the terms and conditions of their relationship. Treaties can be bilateral or multilateral depending on the number of signatories involved. They are binding on the parties that sign them and generally require ratification and approval by each country’s legislature before they can become law.
On the other hand, executive agreements are arrangements made between the heads of two or more nations without the ratification of the country’s legislative body. Executive agreements may be formal or informal, and they usually cover a wide range of subjects, including trade, military relations, and other diplomatic matters.
So, which is more common between the two?
While treaties are the more formal and traditional means of regulating international relations, executive agreements have become increasingly popular in the modern era. The use of executive agreements by the US government is more popular than treaties, especially in the last few decades.
One of the significant advantages of executive agreements is their flexibility. Unlike treaties, executive agreements do not require the approval of the legislative body, which can slow negotiations and decision-making processes and can sometimes lead to treaties being rejected.
Moreover, executive agreements are often used for matters that cannot wait for the long timeline involved in the treaty-making process. For example, in times of emergency or war, an executive agreement can be used to provide for military bases or supplies without delay. This is because treaties might take a long time to get through the ratification process, which may take months or even years.
The US government has, over the years, executed several executive agreements, including the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the Paris Climate Agreement. Notably, the executive branch of the US government has been very active in using executive agreements to make governance more effective.
However, treaties still remain relevant and significant in regulating international relations. Treaties establish a more substantial legal framework for international cooperation and provide assurance of commitment to the agreement. As a result, treaties are more advantageous when it comes to regulations that require long-term commitments, such as arms control, border agreements, and intellectual property laws.
In summary, both treaties and executive agreements have their advantages and shortcomings. While treaties are more formal and binding, executive agreements are more flexible and efficient. The choice between the two often depends on the specific situation and the nature of the activity in question. Nevertheless, executive agreements have become increasingly popular in recent years, and their usage will likely continue to increase in the future.