Treaty HandbookPrepared by the Treaty Section of the Office of Legal AffairsUnited Nations

UNITED NATIONS PUBLICATIONSales No. E.12.V.1eISBN-13 978-92-1-055293-6DisclaimerThis Handbook is provided for information only and does not constitute formal legal orother professional advice. Readers may wish to seek such advice before taking action inrelation to matters described in this Handbook or otherwise relying on the informationcontained herein. The United Nations assumes no liability for actions undertaken inreliance on the information contained in this Handbook.Copyright United Nations 2002-2012Revised edition of 2012All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrievalsystem or transmitted in any form by any means, i.e., electronic, mechanical,photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the UnitedNations.

TABLE OF CONTENTSForeword . ivAbbreviations . vi1Introduction . multilateral treaties . 3Secretary-General as depositary . 3Depositary functions of the Secretary-General . 3Designation of depositary . 3Participating in multilateral treaties . 53.1Signature . 53.1.1Introduction . 53.1.2Open for signature. 53.1.3Simple signature. 53.1.4Definitive signature. 63.2Full powers. 63.2.1Signature of a treaty without an instrument of full powers . 63.2.2Requirement of instrument of full powers . 63.2.3Form of instrument of full powers . 73.2.4Appointment with the depositary for affixing signature . 83.3Consent to be bound. 83.3.1Introduction . 83.3.2Ratification. 93.3.3Acceptance or approval. 93.3.4Accession . 103.3.5Practical considerations . 103.4Provisional application. 113.5Reservations . 123.5.1What are reservations? . 123.5.2Vienna Convention 1969 . 123.5.3Time for formulating reservations . 123.5.4Form of reservations . 133.5.5Notification of reservations by the depositary . 133.5.6Objections to reservations . 143.5.7Withdrawal of reservations . 153.5.8Modifications to reservations. 153.6Declarations . 163.6.1Interpretative declarations . 163.6.2Optional and mandatory declarations . 163.6.3Time for formulating declarations . 183.6.4Form of declarations . 183.6.5Notification of declarations by the depositary . 183.6.6Objections to declarations . 183.7Notifications . 19i

TABLE OF CONTENTS4Key events in a multilateral treaty . 214.1Overview . 214.2Entry into force . 224.2.1Definitive entry into force . 224.2.2Entry into force for a State . 234.2.3Provisional entry into force. 234.3Dispute resolution and compliance mechanisms . 244.4Amendments . 254.4.1Amending treaties that have entered into force . 254.4.2Amending treaties that have not entered into force . 264.4.3Determining the date on which an amendment enters into force. 274.5Withdrawal and denunciation . 274.6Termination . 285Registering or filing and recording treaties . 29Article 102 of the Charter of the United Nations . 29Regulations to give effect to Article 102 . 29Meaning of "treaty" and "international agreement" under Article 102 . 30Role of the Secretariat. 30Form . 30Parties. 30Intention to create legal obligations under international law . 31Types of registration, filing and recording . 31Registration with the Secretariat . 31Filing and recording by the Secretariat . 32Ex officio registration by the United Nations . 33Types of agreements registered or filed and recorded . 33Multilateral treaties . 33Bilateral treaties . 33Unilateral declarations . 33Subsequent actions, modifications and agreements . 34Requirements for registration . 34Outcome of registration or filing and recording . 37Database and record . 37Date of effect of registration . 37Certificate of registration . 38Publication . . with the Treaty Section: Procedural Information. 41General information . 41Contacting the Treaty Section. 41Functions of the Treaty Section . 41Delivery of documents for deposit . 41Translations . 41Signing a multilateral treaty . 42Ratifying, accepting, approving or acceding to a multilateral treaty . 43ii

TABLE OF CONTENTS6.46.56.6Making a reservation or declaration to a multilateral treaty . 44Depositing a multilateral treaty with the Secretary-General. 45Registering or filing and recording a treaty with the Secretariat . 46Annex 1 – Note verbale from the Legal Counsel (full powers), 2010 . 47Annex 2 – Note verbale from the Legal Counsel (Extension of time limits to lodgeobjections to late reservations), 2000. 49Annex 3 – Model instrument of full powers. 51Annex 4 – Model instrument of ratification, acceptance or approval . 52Annex 5 – Model instrument of accession . 53Annex 6 – Model instrument of reservation/declaration . 54Annex 7 – Model instrument of modification of reservation(s) . 55Annex 8 – Model instrument of withdrawal of reservation(s) . 56Annex 9 – Model certifying statement for registration or filing and recording . 57Annex 10 – Checklist for registration. 58Annex 11 – Secretary-General’s Bulletin (ST/SGB/2001/7) . 59Glossary. 62iii

FOREWORDIn its Millennium Declaration, the General Assembly of the United Nationsemphasized the need to strengthen the international rule of law, thus clearly highlightinga key area of focus for the United Nations in the new millennium. The Secretary-Generalof the United Nations has also reaffirmed his commitment to advancing the internationalrule of law. Treaties are the primary source of international law, and the SecretaryGeneral is the main depositary of multilateral treaties in the world. At present, over 550multilateral treaties are deposited with the Secretary-General. In order to encourage widerparticipation in the multilateral treaties deposited with him, the Secretary-General hasbeen inviting States to participate in annual Treaty Events since the initiative was firstlaunched in 2000. In addition to the depositary functions of the Secretary-General, theSecretariat has played a unique role in carrying out functions related to the registrationand publication of treaties in accordance with Article 102 of the Charter of the UnitedNations in order to ensure that treaties in force are in the public domain.This Handbook, prepared by the Treaty Section of the United Nations Office of LegalAffairs, is a practical guide to the depositary practice of the Secretary-General and theregistration practice of the Secretariat. It is intended as a contribution to the UnitedNations efforts to assist States in becoming party to the international treaty frameworkand in registering treaties with the Secretariat as required by Article 102 of the Charter. Itis presented in a user-friendly format with diagrams and step-by-step instructions, andtouches upon many aspects of treaty law and practice. This Handbook is designed for useby States, international organizations and other entities.Aside from this Handbook, there are various other resources available in relation to thedepositary and registration practices applied within the United Nations. In particular,attention is drawn to the Summary of Practice of the Secretary-General as Depositary ofMultilateral Treaties, which contains a comprehensive overview of the main features ofthe depositary practice of the Secretary-General, and the Final Clauses of MultilateralTreaties Handbook, which is a practical guide intended to assist those who are directlyinvolved in multilateral treaty-making. The United Nations Treaty Collection website at, maintained by the Treaty Section, includes, among many otherthings, an electronic copy of this Handbook and other publications. The website alsoincludes a database containing the status of multilateral treaties deposited with theSecretary-General, as well as a database of treaties regist