Treaty

A treaty is an agreement under international law entered into by actors in international law, namely sovereign states and international organizations. A treaty may also be known as an (international) agreement, protocol, covenant, convention, pact, or exchange of letters, among other terms. Regardless of terminology, all of these forms of agreements are, under international law, equally considered treaties and the rules are the same.[1]

Treaties can be loosely compared to contracts: both are examples of willing parties assuming obligations among themselves, and any party that fails to live up to their obligations can be held liable under international law.[2]

Traktat brzeski 1918
The first two pages of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, in (left to right) German, Hungarian, Bulgarian, Ottoman Turkish and Russian

Modern usage

A treaty is an official, express written agreement that states use to legally bind themselves.[3] A treaty is the official document which expresses that agreement in words; and it is also the objective outcome of a ceremonial occasion which acknowledges the parties and their defined relationships.

Modern form

Since the late 19th century, most treaties have followed a fairly consistent format. A treaty typically begins with a preamble describing the High Contracting Parties and their shared objectives in executing the treaty, as well as summarizing any underlying events (such as the aftermath of a war in the case of a peace treaty). Modern preambles are sometimes structured as a single very long sentence formatted into multiple paragraphs for readability, in which each of the paragraphs begins with a gerund (desiring, recognizing, having, and so on).

The High Contracting Parties; referred to as either the official title of the head of state (but not including the personal name), e.g. His Majesty The King of X or His Excellency The President of Y, or alternatively in the form of "Government of Z"; are enumerated, and along with the full names and titles of their plenipotentiary representatives, and a boilerplate clause about how their representatives have communicated (or exchanged) their full powers (i.e., the official documents appointing them to act on behalf of their respective high contracting party) and found them in good or proper form. However, under the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties if the representative is the head of state, head of government or minister of foreign affairs, no special document is needed, as holding such high office is sufficient.

The end of the preamble and the start of the actual agreement is often signaled by the words "have agreed as follows".

After the preamble comes numbered articles, which contain the substance of the parties' actual agreement. Each article heading usually encompasses a paragraph. A long treaty may further group articles under chapter headings.

Modern treaties, regardless of subject matter, usually contain articles governing where the final authentic copies of the treaty will be deposited and how any subsequent disputes as to their interpretation will be peacefully resolved.

The end of a treaty, the eschatocol (or closing protocol), is often signaled by a clause like "in witness whereof" or "in faith whereof", the parties have affixed their signatures, followed by the words "DONE at", then the site(s) of the treaty's execution and the date(s) of its execution. The date is typically written in its most formal, longest possible form. For example, the Charter of the United Nations was "DONE at the city of San Francisco the twenty-sixth day of June, one thousand nine hundred and forty-five". If the treaty is executed in multiple copies in different languages, that fact is always noted, and is followed by a stipulation that the versions in different languages are equally authentic.

The signatures of the parties' representatives follow at the very end. When the text of a treaty is later reprinted, such as in a collection of treaties currently in effect, an editor will often append the dates on which the respective parties ratified the treaty and on which it came into effect for each party.

Bilateral and multilateral treaties

Bilateral treaties are concluded between two states[4] or entities. It is possible, however, for a bilateral treaty to have more than two parties; consider for instance the bilateral treaties between Switzerland and the European Union (EU) following the Swiss rejection of the European Economic Area agreement. Each of these treaties has seventeen parties. These however are still bilateral, not multilateral, treaties. The parties are divided into two groups, the Swiss ("on the one part") and the EU and its member states ("on the other part"). The treaty establishes rights and obligations between the Swiss and the EU and the member states severally—it does not establish any rights and obligations amongst the EU and its member states.

A multilateral treaty is concluded among several countries.[4] The agreement establishes rights and obligations between each party and every other party. Multilateral treaties are often regional. Treaties of "mutual guarantee" are international compacts, e.g., the Treaty of Locarno which guarantees each signatory against attack from another.[4]

Adding and amending treaty obligations

Reservations

Reservations are essentially caveats to a state's acceptance of a treaty. Reservations are unilateral statements purporting to exclude or to modify the legal obligation and its effects on the reserving state.[5] These must be included at the time of signing or ratification, i.e. "a party cannot add a reservation after it has already joined a treaty". Article 19 of Vienna Convention on the law of Treaties in 1969.

Originally, international law was unaccepting of treaty reservations, rejecting them unless all parties to the treaty accepted the same reservations. However, in the interest of encouraging the largest number of states to join treaties, a more permissive rule regarding reservations has emerged. While some treaties still expressly forbid any reservations, they are now generally permitted to the extent that they are not inconsistent with the goals and purposes of the treaty.

When a state limits its treaty obligations through reservations, other states party to that treaty have the option to accept those reservations, object to them, or object and oppose them. If the state accepts them (or fails to act at all), both the reserving state and the accepting state are relieved of the reserved legal obligation as concerns their legal obligations to each other (accepting the reservation does not change the accepting state's legal obligations as concerns other parties to the treaty). If the state opposes, the parts of the treaty affected by the reservation drop out completely and no longer create any legal obligations on the reserving and accepting state, again only as concerns each other. Finally, if the state objects and opposes, there are no legal obligations under that treaty between those two state parties whatsoever. The objecting and opposing state essentially refuses to acknowledge the reserving state is a party to the treaty at all.[6]

Amendments

There are three ways an existing treaty can be amended. First, formal amendment requires State parties to the treaty to go through the ratification process all over again. The re-negotiation of treaty provisions can be long and protracted, and often some parties to the original treaty will not become parties to the amended treaty. When determining the legal obligations of states, one party to the original treaty and one a party to the amended treaty, the states will only be bound by the terms they both agreed upon. Treaties can also be amended informally by the treaty executive council when the changes are only procedural, technical change in customary international law can also amend a treaty, where state behavior evinces a new interpretation of the legal obligations under the treaty. Minor corrections to a treaty may be adopted by a procès-verbal; but a procès-verbal is generally reserved for changes to rectify obvious errors in the text adopted, i.e. where the text adopted does not correctly reflect the intention of the parties adopting it.

Protocols

In international law and international relations, a protocol is generally a treaty or international agreement that supplements a previous treaty or international agreement. A protocol can amend the previous treaty, or add additional provisions. Parties to the earlier agreement are not required to adopt the protocol. Sometimes this is made clearer by calling it an "optional protocol", especially where many parties to the first agreement do not support the protocol.

Some examples: the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) established a framework for the development of binding greenhouse gas emission limits, while the Kyoto Protocol contained the specific provisions and regulations later agreed upon.

Execution and implementation

Treaties may be seen as 'self-executing', in that merely becoming a party puts the treaty and all of its obligations in action. Other treaties may be non-self-executing and require 'implementing legislation'—a change in the domestic law of a state party that will direct or enable it to fulfill treaty obligations. An example of a treaty requiring such legislation would be one mandating local prosecution by a party for particular crimes.

The division between the two is often not clear and is often politicized in disagreements within a government over a treaty, since a non-self-executing treaty cannot be acted on without the proper change in domestic law. If a treaty requires implementing legislation, a state may be in default of its obligations by the failure of its legislature to pass the necessary domestic laws.

Interpretation

The language of treaties, like that of any law or contract, must be interpreted when the wording does not seem clear or it is not immediately apparent how it should be applied in a perhaps unforeseen circumstance. The Vienna Convention states that treaties are to be interpreted "in good faith" according to the "ordinary meaning given to the terms of the treaty in their context and in the light of its object and purpose". International legal experts also often invoke the 'principle of maximum effectiveness,' which interprets treaty language as having the fullest force and effect possible to establish obligations between the parties.

No one party to a treaty can impose its particular interpretation of the treaty upon the other parties. Consent may be implied, however, if the other parties fail to explicitly disavow that initially unilateral interpretation, particularly if that state has acted upon its view of the treaty without complaint. Consent by all parties to the treaty to a particular interpretation has the legal effect of adding another clause to the treaty – this is commonly called an 'authentic interpretation'.

International tribunals and arbiters are often called upon to resolve substantial disputes over treaty interpretations. To establish the meaning in context, these judicial bodies may review the preparatory work from the negotiation and drafting of the treaty as well as the final, signed treaty itself.

Consequences of terminology

One significant part of treaty making is that signing a treaty implies recognition that the other side is a sovereign state and that the agreement being considered is enforceable under international law. Hence, nations can be very careful about terming an agreement to be a treaty. For example, within the United States, agreements between states are compacts and agreements between states and the federal government or between agencies of the government are memoranda of understanding.

Another situation can occur when one party wishes to create an obligation under international law, but the other party does not. This factor has been at work with respect to discussions between North Korea and the United States over security guarantees and nuclear proliferation.

The terminology can also be confusing because a treaty may and usually is named something other than a treaty, such as a convention, protocol, or simply agreement. Conversely some legal documents such as the Treaty of Waitangi are internationally considered to be documents under domestic law.

Ending treaty obligations

Withdrawal

Treaties are not necessarily permanently binding upon the signatory parties. As obligations in international law are traditionally viewed as arising only from the consent of states, many treaties expressly allow a state to withdraw as long as it follows certain procedures of notification. For example, the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs provides that the treaty will terminate if, as a result of denunciations, the number of parties falls below 40. Many treaties expressly forbid withdrawal. Article 56 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties provides that where a treaty is silent over whether or not it can be denounced there is a rebuttable presumption that it cannot be unilaterally denounced unless:

  • it can be shown that the parties intended to admit the possibility, or
  • a right of withdrawal can be inferred from the terms of the treaty.

The possibility of withdrawal depends on the terms of the treaty and its travaux preparatoire. It has, for example, been held that it is not possible to withdraw from the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. When North Korea declared its intention to do this the Secretary-General of the United Nations, acting as registrar, said that original signatories of the ICCPR had not overlooked the possibility of explicitly providing for withdrawal, but rather had deliberately intended not to provide for it. Consequently, withdrawal was not possible.[7]

In practice, because of sovereignty, any state can purport to withdraw from any treaty at any time, and cease to abide by its terms. The question of whether this is lawful can be regarded as the success or failure to anticipate community acquiescence or enforcement, that is, how other states will react; for instance, another state might impose sanctions or go to war over a treaty violation.

If a state party's withdrawal is successful, its obligations under that treaty are considered terminated, and withdrawal by one party from a bilateral treaty terminates the treaty. When a state withdraws from a multilateral treaty, that treaty will still otherwise remain in force among the other parties, unless, it otherwise should or could be interpreted as agreed upon between the remaining states parties to the treaty.

Suspension and termination

If a party has materially violated or breached its treaty obligations, the other parties may invoke this breach as grounds for temporarily suspending their obligations to that party under the treaty. A material breach may also be invoked as grounds for permanently terminating the treaty itself.[8]

A treaty breach does not automatically suspend or terminate treaty relations, however. It depends on how the other parties regard the breach and how they resolve to respond to it. Sometimes treaties will provide for the seriousness of a breach to be determined by a tribunal or other independent arbiter.[9] An advantage of such an arbiter is that it prevents a party from prematurely and perhaps wrongfully suspending or terminating its own obligations due to another's alleged material breach.

Treaties sometimes include provisions for self-termination, meaning that the treaty is automatically terminated if certain defined conditions are met. Some treaties are intended by the parties to be only temporarily binding and are set to expire on a given date. Other treaties may self-terminate if the treaty is meant to exist only under certain conditions.[10]

A party may claim that a treaty should be terminated, even absent an express provision, if there has been a fundamental change in circumstances. Such a change is sufficient if unforeseen, if it undermined the “essential basis” of consent by a party, if it radically transforms the extent of obligations between the parties, and if the obligations are still to be performed. A party cannot base this claim on change brought about by its own breach of the treaty. This claim also cannot be used to invalidate treaties that established or redrew political boundaries.[10]

Invalid treaties

There are several reasons an otherwise valid and agreed upon treaty may be rejected as a binding international agreement, most of which involve problems created at the formation of the treaty. For example, the serial Japan-Korea treaties of 1905, 1907 and 1910 were protested;[11] and they were confirmed as "already null and void" in the 1965 Treaty on Basic Relations between Japan and the Republic of Korea.[12]

Ultra vires treaties

A party's consent to a treaty is invalid if it had been given by an agent or body without power to do so under that state's domestic laws. States are reluctant to inquire into the internal affairs and processes of other states, and so a "manifest violation" is required such that it would be "objectively evident to any State dealing with the matter". A strong presumption exists internationally that a head of state has acted within his proper authority. It seems that no treaty has ever actually been invalidated on this provision.

Consent is also invalid if it is given by a representative who ignored restrictions he is subject to by his sovereign during the negotiations, if the other parties to the treaty were notified of those restrictions prior to his signing.

According to the preamble in The Law of Treaties, treaties are a source of international law. If an act or lack thereof is condemned under international law, the act will not assume international legality even if approved by internal law.[13] This means that in case of a conflict with domestic law, international law will always prevail.[14]

Misunderstanding, fraud, corruption, coercion

Articles 46–53 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties set out the only ways that treaties can be invalidated—considered unenforceable and void under international law. A treaty will be invalidated due to either the circumstances by which a state party joined the treaty, or due to the content of the treaty itself. Invalidation is separate from withdrawal, suspension, or termination (addressed above), which all involve an alteration in the consent of the parties of a previously valid treaty rather than the invalidation of that consent in the first place.

A state's consent may be invalidated if there was an erroneous understanding of a fact or situation at the time of conclusion, which formed the "essential basis" of the state's consent. Consent will not be invalidated if the misunderstanding was due to the state's own conduct, or if the truth should have been evident.

Consent will also be invalidated if it was induced by the fraudulent conduct of another party, or by the direct or indirect "corruption" of its representative by another party to the treaty. Coercion of either a representative, or the state itself through the threat or use of force, if used to obtain the consent of that state to a treaty, will invalidate that consent.

Contrary to peremptory norms

A treaty is null and void if it is in violation of a peremptory norm. These norms, unlike other principles of customary law, are recognized as permitting no violations and so cannot be altered through treaty obligations. These are limited to such universally accepted prohibitions as those against the aggressive use of force, genocide and other crimes against humanity, piracy, hostilities directed at civilian population, racial discrimination and apartheid, slavery and torture,[15] meaning that no state can legally assume an obligation to commit or permit such acts.[16]

Role of the United Nations

The United Nations Charter states that treaties must be registered with the UN to be invoked before it or enforced in its judiciary organ, the International Court of Justice. This was done to prevent the proliferation of secret treaties that occurred in the 19th and 20th century. Section 103 of the Charter also states that its members' obligations under it outweigh any competing obligations under other treaties.

After their adoption, treaties as well as their amendments have to follow the official legal procedures of the United Nations, as applied by the Office of Legal Affairs, including signature, ratification and entry into force.

In function and effectiveness, the UN has been compared to the pre-Constitutional United States Federal government by some, giving a comparison between modern treaty law and the historical Articles of Confederation.

Relation between national law and treaties by country

Australian law

The constitution of Australia allows the executive government to enter into treaties, but the practice is for treaties to be tabled in both houses of parliament at least 15 days before signing. Treaties are considered a source of Australian law but sometimes require an act of parliament to be passed depending on their nature. Treaties are administered and maintained by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, which advised that the "general position under Australian law is that treaties which Australia has joined, apart from those terminating a state of war, are not directly and automatically incorporated into Australian law. Signature and ratification do not, of themselves, make treaties operate domestically. In the absence of legislation, treaties cannot impose obligations on individuals nor create rights in domestic law. Nevertheless, international law, including treaty law, is a legitimate and important influence on the development of the common law and may be used in the interpretation of statutes."[17] Treaties can be implemented by executive action, and often, existing laws are sufficient to ensure a treaty is honoured.

Australian treaties generally fall under the following categories: extradition, postal agreements and money orders, trade and international conventions.

Brazilian law

The federal constitution of Brazil states that the power to enter into treaties is vested in the president of Brazil and that such treaties must be approved by the Congress of Brazil (Articles 84, Clause VIII, and 49, Clause I). In practice, that has been interpreted as meaning that the executive branch is free to negotiate and sign a treaty but that its ratification by the president requires the prior approval of Congress. Additionally, the Supreme Federal Court has ruled that after ratification and entry into force, a treaty must be incorporated into domestic law by means of a presidential decree published in the federal register for it to be valid in Brazil and applicable by the Brazilian authorities.

The court has established that treaties are subject to constitutional review and enjoy the same hierarchical position as ordinary legislation (leis ordinárias, or "ordinary laws", in Portuguese). A more recent ruling by the Supreme Court of Brazil in 2008 has altered that somewhat by stating that treaties containing human rights provisions enjoy a status above that of ordinary legislation, subject to only the constitution itself. Additionally, the 45th Amendment to the constitution makes human rights treaties approved by Congress by a special procedure enjoy the same hierarchical position as a constitutional amendment. The hierarchical position of treaties in relation to domestic legislation is of relevance to the discussion on whether and how the latter can abrogate the former and vice versa.

The constitution does not have a supremacy clause with the same effects as the one in the US constitution, which is of interest to the discussion on the relation between treaties and legislation of the states of Brazil.

India

In India, subjects are divided into three lists: union, state and concurrent. In the normal legislation process, the subjects on the union list must be legislated by the Parliament of India. For subjects on the state list, only the respective state legislature can legislate. For subjects on the concurrent list, both governments can make laws. However, to implement international treaties, Parliament can legislate on any subject and even override the general division of subject lists.

United States

In the United States, the term "treaty" has a different, more restricted legal sense than in international law. US law distinguishes what it calls "treaties" from "executive agreements", which are either "congressional-executive agreements" or "sole executive agreements". The classes are all equally treaties under international law; they are distinct only in internal US law.

The distinctions are primarily concerning their method of approval. Treaties require advice and consent by two thirds of the Senators present, but sole executive agreements may be executed by the President acting alone. Some treaties grant the President the authority to fill in the gaps with executive agreements, rather than additional treaties or protocols. Finally, congressional-executive agreements require majority approval by both the House and the Senate before or after the treaty is signed by the President.

Currently, international agreements are ten times more likely to be executed by executive agreement. Despite the relative ease of executive agreements, the President still often chooses to pursue the formal treaty process over an executive agreement to gain congressional support on matters that require the Congress to pass implementing legislation or appropriate funds as well as for agreements that impose long-term, complex legal obligations on the US. For example, the deal by the United States, Iran, and other countries is not a treaty.

See the article on the Bricker Amendment for history of the relationship between treaty powers and Constitutional provisions.

The US Supreme Court ruled in the Head Money Cases that "treaties" do not have a privileged position over Acts of Congress and can be repealed or modified, for the purposes of US law, by any subsequent Act of Congress, just like any other regular law. The court also ruled in Reid v. Covert that treaty provisions that conflict with the US Constitution are null and void under US law.

Treaties and indigenous peoples

Treaties formed an important part of European colonization and, in many parts of the world, Europeans attempted to legitimize their sovereignty by signing treaties with indigenous peoples. In most cases these treaties were in extremely disadvantageous terms to the native people, who often did not appreciate the implications of what they were signing.

In some rare cases, such as with Ethiopia and Qing Dynasty China, the local governments were able to use the treaties to at least mitigate the impact of European colonization. This involved learning the intricacies of European diplomatic customs and then using the treaties to prevent a power from overstepping their agreement or by playing different powers against each other.

In other cases, such as New Zealand and Canada, treaties allowed native peoples to maintain a minimum amount of autonomy. In the case of indigenous Australians, unlike with the Māori of New Zealand, no treaty was ever entered into with the indigenous peoples entitling the Europeans to land ownership, under the doctrine of terra nullius (later overturned by Mabo v Queensland, establishing the concept of native title well after colonization was already a fait accompli). Such treaties between colonizers and indigenous peoples are an important part of political discourse in the late 20th and early 21st century, the treaties being discussed have international standing as has been stated in a treaty study by the UN.

Prior to 1871, the government of the United States regularly entered into treaties with Native Americans but the Indian Appropriations Act of March 3, 1871 (ch. 120, 16 Stat. 563) had a rider (25 U.S.C. § 71) attached that effectively ended the President’s treaty making by providing that no Indian nation or tribe shall be acknowledged as an independent nation, tribe, or power with whom the United States may contract by treaty. The federal government continued to provide similar contractual relations with the Indian tribes after 1871 by agreements, statutes, and executive orders.[18]

See also

Notes

  1. ^ In United States constitutional law, the term "treaty" has a special meaning which is more restricted than its meaning in international law; see United States law below.
  2. ^ Druzin, Bryan (2014). "Opening the Machinery of Private Order: Public International Law as a Form of Private Ordering". Saint Louis University Law Journal. 58: 452–456.
  3. ^ Shaw, Malcolm. (2003). International Law, pp. 88–92., p. 88, at Google Books
  4. ^ a b c Nicolson, Harold. (1934). Diplomacy, p. 135.
  5. ^ Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, Article 2 Sec. 1(d) Text of the Convention
  6. ^ Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, Article II, Reservations.
  7. ^ Final Clauses in Multilateral Treaties: Handbook (PDF). United Nations. 2003. p. 112. ISBN 92-1-133572-8.
  8. ^ Article 60 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties.
  9. ^ Gomaa, Mohammed M. (1997). Suspension or termination of treaties on grounds of breach. The Hague: M. Nijhoff. p. 142. ISBN 9789041102263.
  10. ^ a b Laurence R. Helfer, Terminating Treaties, in The Oxford Guide to Treaties 634-649 (Duncan Hollis ed., Oxford University Press, 2012)
  11. ^ Korean Mission to the Conference on the Limitation of Armament, Washington, D.C., 1921–1922. (1922). Korea's Appeal to the Conference on Limitation of Armament, pp. 1–44.
  12. ^ "Treaty on Basic Relations between Japan and the Republic of Korea"; excerpt, "It is confirmed that all treaties or agreements concluded between the Empire of Japan and the Empire of Korea on or before August 22, 1910 are already null and void."
  13. ^ Article 3, Draft Articles on Responsibility of States for Internationally Wrongful Acts Adopted by ILC 53 session 2001.
  14. ^ Article 27, Vienna Convention on the Law of treaties, Vienna 23 May 1969 jfr. P 2, World T.R. 2007, 6(1), 45–87
  15. ^ Wood, Michael; Pronto, Arnold (2010). The International Law Commission 1999-2009. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 764. ISBN 9780199578979.
  16. ^ Articles 53 and 64 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties.
  17. ^ "Treaty making process". Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
  18. ^ Page 12 of the introduction to Forest Service National Resource Guide to American Indian and Alaska Native Relations Author: Joe Mitchell, Publish date: 12/5/97 US Forest Service – Caring for the land and serving people.

References

External links

The dictionary definition of treaty at Wiktionary Works related to Treaties at Wikisource

Antarctic Treaty System

The Antarctic Treaty and related agreements, collectively known as the Antarctic Treaty System (ATS), regulate international relations with respect to Antarctica, Earth's only continent without a native human population. For the purposes of the treaty system, Antarctica is defined as all of the land and ice shelves south of 60°S latitude. The treaty entered into force in 1961 and currently has 53 parties. The treaty sets aside Antarctica as a scientific preserve, establishes freedom of scientific investigation, and bans military activity on the continent. The treaty was the first arms control agreement established during the Cold War. Since September 2004, the Antarctic Treaty Secretariat headquarters has been located in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

The main treaty was opened for signature on December 1, 1959, and officially entered into force on June 23, 1961. The original signatories were the 12 countries active in Antarctica during the International Geophysical Year (IGY) of 1957–58. The twelve countries that had significant interests in Antarctica at the time were: Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Chile, France, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, South Africa, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and the United States. These countries had established over 55 Antarctic stations for the IGY. The treaty was a diplomatic expression of the operational and scientific co-operation that had been achieved "on the ice".

European Economic Community

The European Economic Community (EEC) was a regional organisation which aimed to bring about economic integration among its member states. It was created by the Treaty of Rome of 1957. Upon the formation of the European Union (EU) in 1993, the EEC was incorporated and renamed as the European Community (EC). In 2009 the EC's institutions were absorbed into the EU's wider framework and the community ceased to exist.

The Community's initial aim was to bring about economic integration, including a common market and customs union, among its six founding members: Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and West Germany. It gained a common set of institutions along with the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) and the European Atomic Energy Community (EURATOM) as one of the European Communities under the 1965 Merger Treaty (Treaty of Brussels). In 1993, a complete single market was achieved, known as the internal market, which allowed for the free movement of goods, capital, services, and people within the EEC. In 1994, the internal market was formalised by the EEA agreement. This agreement also extended the internal market to include most of the member states of the European Free Trade Association, forming the European Economic Area covering 15 countries.

Upon the entry into force of the Maastricht Treaty in 1993, the EEC was renamed the European Community to reflect that it covered a wider range than economic policy. This was also when the three European Communities, including the EC, were collectively made to constitute the first of the three pillars of the European Union, which the treaty also founded. The EC existed in this form until it was abolished by the 2009 Treaty of Lisbon, which incorporated the EC's institutions into the EU's wider framework and provided that the EU would "replace and succeed the European Community".

The EEC was also known as the Common Market in the English-speaking countries and sometimes referred to as the European Community even before it was officially renamed as such in 1993.

European Union

The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of 28 member states that are located primarily in Europe. It has an area of 4,475,757 km2 (1,728,099 sq mi) and an estimated population of about 513 million. The EU has developed an internal single market through a standardised system of laws that apply in all member states in those matters, and only those matters, where members have agreed to act as one. EU policies aim to ensure the free movement of people, goods, services and capital within the internal market, enact legislation in justice and home affairs and maintain common policies on trade, agriculture, fisheries and regional development. For travel within the Schengen Area, passport controls have been abolished. A monetary union was established in 1999 and came into full force in 2002 and is composed of 19 EU member states which use the euro currency.

The EU and European citizenship were established when the Maastricht Treaty came into force in 1993. The EU traces its origins to the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) and the European Economic Community (EEC), established, respectively, by the 1951 Treaty of Paris and 1957 Treaty of Rome. The original members of what came to be known as the European Communities were the Inner Six: Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and West Germany. The Communities and its successors have grown in size by the accession of new member states and in power by the addition of policy areas to its remit. The latest major amendment to the constitutional basis of the EU, the Treaty of Lisbon, came into force in 2009. While no member state has left the EU or its antecedent organisations, the United Kingdom signified the intention to leave after a membership referendum in June 2016 and is negotiating its withdrawal on 29 March 2019.

Covering 7.3% of the world population, the EU in 2017 generated a nominal gross domestic product (GDP) of 19.670 trillion US dollars, constituting approximately 24.6% of global nominal GDP. Additionally, all 28 EU countries have a very high Human Development Index, according to the United Nations Development Programme. In 2012, the EU was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Through the Common Foreign and Security Policy, the EU has developed a role in external relations and defence. The union maintains permanent diplomatic missions throughout the world and represents itself at the United Nations, the World Trade Organization, the G7 and the G20. Because of its global influence, the European Union has been described as an emerging superpower.

Irish Civil War

The Irish Civil War (Irish: Cogadh Cathartha na hÉireann; 28 June 1922 – 24 May 1923) was a conflict that followed the Irish War of Independence and accompanied the establishment of the Irish Free State, an entity independent from the United Kingdom but within the British Empire.

The civil war was waged between two opposing groups, Irish republicans and Irish nationalists, over the Anglo-Irish Treaty. The forces of the Provisional Government (which became the Free State in December 1922) supported the Treaty, while the Republican opposition saw it as a betrayal of the Irish Republic (which had been proclaimed during the Easter Rising). Many of those who fought on both sides in the conflict had been members of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) during the War of Independence.

The Civil War was won by the Free State forces, who benefitted from substantial quantities of weapons provided by the British Government. The conflict may have claimed more lives than the War of Independence that preceded it, and left Irish society divided and embittered for generations. Today, two of the main political parties in the Republic of Ireland, Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, are direct descendants of the opposing sides of the war.

Irish Republican Army

The Irish Republican Army (IRA) are paramilitary movements in Ireland in the 20th and the 21st century dedicated to Irish republicanism, the belief that all of Ireland should be an independent republic from British rule and free to form their own government. The original Irish Republican Army formed in 1917 from those Irish Volunteers who did not enlist in the British Army during World War I, members of the Irish Citizen Army and others. Irishmen formerly in the British Army returned to Ireland and fought in the Irish War of Independence. During the Irish War of Independence it was the army of the Irish Republic, declared by Dáil Éireann in 1919. Some Irish people dispute the claims of more recently created organisations that insist that they are the only legitimate descendants of the original IRA, often referred to as the "Old IRA".

The playwright and former IRA member Brendan Behan once said that the first issue on any Irish organisation's agenda was "the split". For the IRA, that has often been the case. The first split came after the Anglo-Irish Treaty in 1921, with supporters of the Treaty forming the nucleus of the National Army of the newly created Irish Free State, while the anti-treaty forces continued to use the name Irish Republican Army. After the end of the Irish Civil War (1922–23), the IRA was around in one form or another for forty years, when it split into the Official IRA and the Provisional IRA in 1969. The latter then had its own breakaways, namely the Real IRA and the Continuity IRA, each claiming to be the true successor of the Army of the Irish Republic.

The Irish Republican Army (1919–1922) (in later years, known as the "Old" IRA), recognised by the First Dáil as the legitimate army of the Irish Republic in April 1921 and fought the Irish War of Independence. On ratification by the Dáil of the Anglo-Irish Treaty, it split into pro-Treaty forces (the National Army, also known as the Government forces or the Regulars) and anti-Treaty forces (the Republicans, Irregulars or Executive forces) after the Treaty. These two went on to fight the Irish Civil War.

The Irish Republican Army (1922–1969), the anti-treaty IRA which fought and lost the civil war and which thereafter refused to recognise either the Irish Free State or Northern Ireland, deeming them both to be creations of British imperialism. It existed in one form or another for over 40 years before splitting in 1969.

The Official IRA (OIRA), the remainder of the IRA after the 1969 split with the Provisionals; was primarily Marxist in its political orientation. It is now inactive in the military sense, while its political wing, Official Sinn Féin, became the Workers' Party of Ireland.

The Provisional IRA (PIRA) broke from the OIRA in 1969 over abstentionism and how to deal with the increasing violence in Northern Ireland. Although opposed to the OIRA's Marxism, it came to develop a left-wing orientation and increasing political activity.

The Continuity IRA (CIRA) broke from the PIRA in 1986, because the latter ended its policy on abstentionism (thus recognising the authority of the Republic of Ireland).

The Real IRA (RIRA), a 1997 breakaway from the PIRA consisting of members opposed to the Northern Ireland peace process.

In April 2011, former members of the Provisional IRA announced a resumption of hostilities, and that "they had now taken on the mantle of the mainstream IRA." They further claimed "We continue to do so under the name of the Irish Republican Army. We are the IRA." and insisted that they "were entirely separate from the Real IRA, Óglaigh na hÉireann (ONH), and the Continuity IRA." They claimed responsibility for the April assassination of PSNI constable Ronan Kerr as well as responsibility for other attacks that had previously been claimed by the Real IRA and ONH.

The New IRA, which was formed as a merger between the Real IRA and other republican groups in 2012. (see Real IRA)

Louisiana Purchase

The Louisiana Purchase (French: Vente de la Louisiane 'Sale of Louisiana') was the acquisition of the Louisiana territory of New France (828,000 sq mi (2,140,000 km2; 530,000,000 acres)) by the United States from France in 1803. The U.S. paid fifty million francs ($11,250,000) and a cancellation of debts worth eighteen million francs ($3,750,000) for a total of sixty-eight million francs ($15 million, equivalent to about $600 billion given the GDP of 2017). The Louisiana territory included land from fifteen present U.S. states and two Canadian provinces. The territory contained land that forms Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Nebraska; the portion of Minnesota west of the Mississippi River; a large portion of North Dakota; a large portion of South Dakota; the northeastern section of New Mexico; the northern portion of Texas; the area of Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado east of the Continental Divide; Louisiana west of the Mississippi River (plus New Orleans); and small portions of land within the present Canadian provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan. Its non-native population was around 60,000 inhabitants, of whom half were African slaves.The Kingdom of France controlled the Louisiana territory from 1699 until it was ceded to Spain in 1762. In 1800, Napoleon, then the First Consul of the French Republic, hoping to re-establish an empire in North America, regained ownership of Louisiana. However, France's failure to put down the revolt in Saint-Domingue, coupled with the prospect of renewed warfare with the United Kingdom, prompted Napoleon to sell Louisiana to the United States to fund his military. The Americans originally sought to purchase only the port city of New Orleans and its adjacent coastal lands, but quickly accepted the bargain. The Louisiana Purchase occurred during the term of the third President of the United States, Thomas Jefferson. Before the purchase was finalized, the decision faced Federalist Party opposition; they argued that it was unconstitutional to acquire any territory. Jefferson agreed that the U.S. Constitution did not contain explicit provisions for acquiring territory, but he asserted that his constitutional power to negotiate treaties was sufficient.

Maastricht Treaty

The Maastricht Treaty (officially the Treaty on European Union) was signed on 7 February 1992 by the members of the European Community in Maastricht, Netherlands to further European integration. On 9–10 December 1991, the same city hosted the European Council which drafted the treaty. The treaty founded the European Union and established its pillar structure which stayed in place until the Lisbon Treaty came into force in 2009. The treaty also greatly expanded the competences of the EEC/EU and led to the creation of the single European currency, the euro.

The Maastricht Treaty reformed and amended the treaties establishing the European Communities, the EU's first pillar. It renamed European Economic Community the European Community, to reflect its expanded competences beyond economic matters. The Maastricht Treaty also created two new "pillars" of the EU on Common Foreign and Security Policy and Cooperation in the Fields of Justice and Home Affairs (respectively the second and third pillars), which replaced the former informal intergovernmental cooperation bodies named TREVI and European Political Cooperation on EU Foreign policy coordination.

The Maastricht Treaty (TEU) and all pre-existing treaties, has subsequently been further amended by the treaties of Amsterdam (1997), Nice (2001) and Lisbon (2007). Today it is one of two treaties forming the constitutional basis of the European Union (EU), the other being the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

Michael Collins (Irish leader)

Michael Collins (Irish: Mícheál Ó Coileáin; 16 October 1890 – 22 August 1922) was an Irish revolutionary, soldier and politician who was a leading figure in the early-20th-century Irish struggle for independence. He was Chairman of the Provisional Government of the Irish Free State from January 1922 until his assassination in August 1922.

Collins was born in Woodfield, County Cork, the youngest of eight children, and his family had republican connections reaching back to the 1798 rebellion. He moved to London in 1906, to become a clerk in the Post Office Savings Bank at Blythe House. He was a member of the London GAA, through which he became associated with the Irish Republican Brotherhood and the Gaelic League. He returned to Ireland in 1916 and fought in the Easter Rising. He was subsequently imprisoned in the Frongoch internment camp as a prisoner of war, but was released in December 1916.

Collins rose through the ranks of the Irish Volunteers and Sinn Féin after his release from Frongoch. He became a Teachta Dála for South Cork in 1918, and was appointed Minister for Finance in the First Dáil. He was present when the Dáil convened on 21 January 1919 and declared the independence of the Irish Republic. In the ensuing War of Independence, he was Director of Organisation and Adjutant General for the Irish Volunteers, and Director of Intelligence of the Irish Republican Army. He gained fame as a guerrilla warfare strategist, planning and directing many successful attacks on British forces, such as the assassination of key British intelligence agents in November 1920.

After the July 1921 ceasefire, Collins and Arthur Griffith were sent to London by Éamon de Valera to negotiate peace terms. The resulting Anglo-Irish Treaty established the Irish Free State but depended on an Oath of Allegiance to the Crown, a condition that de Valera and other republican leaders could not reconcile with. Collins viewed the Treaty as offering "the freedom to achieve freedom", and persuaded a majority in the Dáil to ratify the Treaty. A provisional government was formed under his chairmanship in early 1922 but was soon disrupted by the Irish Civil War, in which Collins was commander-in-chief of the National Army. He was shot and killed in an ambush by anti-Treaty forces on 22 August 1922.

Māori people

The Māori (; Māori pronunciation: [ˈmaːɔɾi] (listen)) are the indigenous Polynesian people of New Zealand. Māori originated with settlers from eastern Polynesia, who arrived in New Zealand in several waves of canoe voyages some time between 1250 and 1300. Over several centuries in isolation, the Polynesian settlers developed a unique culture, with their own language, a rich mythology, and distinctive crafts and performing arts. Early Māori formed tribal groups based on eastern Polynesian social customs and organisation. Horticulture flourished using plants they introduced; later, a prominent warrior culture emerged.The arrival of Europeans to New Zealand, starting in the 17th century, brought enormous changes to the Māori way of life. Māori people gradually adopted many aspects of Western society and culture. Initial relations between Māori and Europeans were largely amicable, and with the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, the two cultures coexisted as part of a new British colony. Rising tensions over disputed land sales led to conflict in the 1860s. Social upheaval, decades of conflict and epidemics of introduced disease took a devastating toll on the Māori population, which fell dramatically. By the start of the 20th century, the Māori population had begun to recover, and efforts have been made to increase their standing in wider New Zealand society and achieve social justice. Traditional Māori culture has thereby enjoyed a significant revival, which was further bolstered by a Māori protest movement that emerged in the 1960s.

In the 2013 census, there were approximately 600,000 people in New Zealand identifying as Māori, making up roughly 15 percent of the national population. They are the second-largest ethnic group in New Zealand, after European New Zealanders ("Pākehā"). In addition, more than 140,000 Māori live in Australia. The Māori language is spoken to some extent by about a fifth of all Māori, representing 3 per cent of the total population. Māori are active in all spheres of New Zealand culture and society, with independent representation in areas such as media, politics and sport.

Disproportionate numbers of Māori face significant economic and social obstacles, and generally have lower life expectancies and incomes compared with other New Zealand ethnic groups. They suffer higher levels of crime, health problems, and educational under-achievement. A number of socioeconomic initiatives have been instigated with the aim of "closing the gap" between Māori and other New Zealanders. Political and economic redress for historical grievances is also ongoing (see Treaty of Waitangi claims and settlements).

NATO

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO ; French: Organisation du traité de l'Atlantique nord; OTAN), also called the North Atlantic Alliance, is an intergovernmental military alliance between 29 North American and European countries. The organization implements the North Atlantic Treaty that was signed on 4 April 1949. NATO constitutes a system of collective defence whereby its independent member states agree to mutual defence in response to an attack by any external party. NATO’s Headquarters are located in Haren, Brussels, Belgium, while the headquarters of Allied Command Operations is near Mons, Belgium.

Since its founding, the admission of new member states has increased the alliance from the original 12 countries to 29. The most recent member state to be added to NATO is Montenegro on 5 June 2017. NATO currently recognizes Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, North Macedonia and Ukraine as aspiring members. An additional 21 countries participate in NATO's Partnership for Peace program, with 15 other countries involved in institutionalized dialogue programs. The combined military spending of all NATO members constitutes over 70% of the global total. Members have committed to reach or maintain defense spending of at least 2% of GDP by 2024.

Peace of Westphalia

The Peace of Westphalia (German: Westfälischer Friede) was a series of peace treaties signed between May and October 1648 in the Westphalian cities of Osnabrück and Münster, largely ending the European wars of religion, including the Thirty Years' War. The treaties of Westphalia brought to an end a calamitous period of European history which caused the deaths of approximately eight million people. Scholars have identified Westphalia as the beginning of the modern international system, based on the concept of Westphalian sovereignty, though this interpretation has been seriously challenged.The negotiation process was lengthy and complex. Talks took place in two different cities, as each side wanted to meet on territory under its own control. A total of 109 delegations arrived to represent the belligerent states, but not all delegations were present at the same time. Three treaties were signed to end each of the overlapping wars: the Peace of Münster, the Treaty of Münster, and the Treaty of Osnabrück. These treaties ended the Thirty Years' War (1618–1648) in the Holy Roman Empire, with the Habsburgs and their Catholic allies on one side, battling the Protestant powers (Sweden, Denmark, Dutch, and Holy Roman principalities) allied with France (Catholic but anti-Habsburg). The treaties also ended the Eighty Years' War (1568–1648) between Spain and the Dutch Republic, with Spain formally recognising the independence of the Dutch.

The Peace of Westphalia established the precedent of peace established by diplomatic congress. A new system of political order arose in central Europe, based upon peaceful coexistence among sovereign states. Inter-state aggression was to be held in check by a balance of power, and a norm was established against interference in another state's domestic affairs. As European influence spread across the globe, these Westphalian principles, especially the concept of sovereign states, became central to international law and to the prevailing world order.

Sinn Féin

Sinn Féin ( shin-FAYN; Irish pronunciation: [ʃɪnʲ ˈfʲeːnʲ]; English: "Ourselves" or "We Ourselves") is a left-wing Irish republican political party active in both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

The original Sinn Féin organisation was founded in 1905 by Arthur Griffith. It took its current form in 1970 after a split within the party (with the other side becoming the Workers' Party of Ireland) and has historically been associated with the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA). Mary Lou McDonald has been party president since February 2018.

Sinn Féin is one of the two largest parties in the Northern Ireland Assembly, currently holding the same number of seats there as the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). Sinn Féin is the largest nationalist party in that assembly, and it held four ministerial posts in the most recent power-sharing Northern Ireland Executive. In the UK House of Commons, Sinn Féin holds seven of Northern Ireland's 18 seats—the second-largest bloc after the DUP. There it follows a policy of abstentionism, refusing to attend parliament or vote on bills. In the Oireachtas (the parliament of the Republic of Ireland), Sinn Féin is the third-largest party and the largest on the left.

Treaty of Brest-Litovsk

The Treaty of Brest-Litovsk was a peace treaty signed on March 3, 1918 between the new Bolshevik government of Russia and the Central Powers (German Empire, Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria, and the Ottoman Empire), that ended Russia's participation in World War I. The treaty was signed at German-controlled Brest-Litovsk (Polish: Brześć Litewski; since 1945, Brest, nowadays in Belarus), after two months of negotiations. The treaty was agreed upon by the Russians to stop further invasion. According to the treaty, Soviet Russia defaulted on all of Imperial Russia's commitments to the Allies and eleven nations became independent in Eastern Europe and western Asia.

In the treaty, Russia ceded hegemony over the Baltic States to Germany; they were meant to become German vassal states under German princelings. Russia also ceded its province of Kars Oblast in the South Caucasus to the Ottoman Empire and recognized the independence of Ukraine. According to historian Spencer Tucker, "The German General Staff had formulated extraordinarily harsh terms that shocked even the German negotiator." Congress Poland was not mentioned in the treaty, as Germans refused to recognize the existence of any Polish representatives, which in turn led to Polish protests. When Germans later complained that the later Treaty of Versailles in the West of 1919 was too harsh on them, the Allied Powers responded that it was more benign than the terms imposed by Brest-Litovsk treaty.The treaty was annulled by the Armistice of 11 November 1918, when Germany surrendered to the western Allies. However, in the meantime it did provide some relief to the Bolsheviks, already fighting the Russian Civil War (1917–1922), following the Russian Revolutions of 1917 by the renunciation of Russia's claims on modern-day Poland, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Ukraine and Lithuania.

Treaty of Lisbon

The Treaty of Lisbon (initially known as the Reform Treaty) is an international agreement that amends the two treaties which form the constitutional basis of the European Union (EU). The Treaty of Lisbon was signed by the EU member states on 13 December 2007, and entered into force on 1 December 2009. It amends the Maastricht Treaty (1993), known in updated form as the Treaty on European Union (2007) or TEU, and the Treaty of Rome (1957), known in updated form as the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (2007) or TFEU. It also amends the attached treaty protocols as well as the Treaty establishing the European Atomic Energy Community (EURATOM).

Prominent changes included the move from unanimity to qualified majority voting in at least 45 policy areas in the Council of Ministers, a change in calculating such a majority to a new double majority, a more powerful European Parliament forming a bicameral legislature alongside the Council of Ministers under the ordinary legislative procedure, a consolidated legal personality for the EU and the creation of a long-term President of the European Council and a High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. The Treaty also made the Union's bill of rights, the Charter of Fundamental Rights, legally binding. The Treaty for the first time gave member states the explicit legal right to leave the EU and the procedure to do so.

The stated aim of the treaty was to "complete the process started by the Treaty of Amsterdam [1997] and by the Treaty of Nice [2001] with a view to enhancing the efficiency and democratic legitimacy of the Union and to improving the coherence of its action". Opponents of the Treaty of Lisbon, such as former Danish Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Jens-Peter Bonde, argued that it would centralize the EU, and weaken democracy by "moving power away" from national electorates. Supporters argue that it brings more checks and balances into the EU system, with stronger powers for the European Parliament and a new role for national parliaments.

Negotiations to modify EU institutions began in 2001, resulting first in the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe, which would have repealed the existing European treaties and replaced them with a "constitution". Although ratified by a majority of member states, this was abandoned after being rejected by 54% of French voters on 29 May 2005 and then by 61% of Dutch voters on 1 June 2005. After a "period of reflection", member states agreed instead to maintain the existing treaties, but to amend them, salvaging a number of the reforms that had been envisaged in the constitution. An amending "reform" treaty was drawn up and signed in Lisbon in 2007. It was originally intended to have been ratified by all member states by the end of 2008. This timetable failed, primarily due to the initial rejection of the Treaty in June 2008 by the Irish electorate, a decision which was reversed in a second referendum in October 2009 after Ireland secured a number of concessions related to the treaty.

Treaty of Paris (1783)

The Treaty of Paris, signed in Paris by representatives of King George III of Great Britain and representatives of the United States of America on September 3, 1783, ended the American Revolutionary War. The treaty set the boundaries between the British Empire in North America and the United States, on lines "exceedingly generous" to the latter. Details included fishing rights and restoration of property and prisoners of war.

This treaty and the separate peace treaties between Great Britain and the nations that supported the American cause—France, Spain, and the Dutch Republic—are known collectively as the Peace of Paris. Only Article 1 of the treaty, which acknowledges the United States' existence as free, sovereign, and independent states, remains in force.

Treaty of Versailles

The Treaty of Versailles (French: Traité de Versailles) was the most important of the peace treaties that brought World War I to an end. The Treaty ended the state of war between Germany and the Allied Powers. It was signed on 28 June 1919 in Versailles, exactly five years after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, which had directly led to World War I. The other Central Powers on the German side of World War I signed separate treaties. Although the armistice, signed on 11 November 1918, ended the actual fighting, it took six months of Allied negotiations at the Paris Peace Conference to conclude the peace treaty. The treaty was registered by the Secretariat of the League of Nations on 21 October 1919.

Of the many provisions in the treaty, one of the most important and controversial required "Germany [to] accept the responsibility of Germany and her allies for causing all the loss and damage" during the war (the other members of the Central Powers signed treaties containing similar articles). This article, Article 231, later became known as the War Guilt clause. The treaty required Germany to disarm, make ample territorial concessions, and pay reparations to certain countries that had formed the Entente powers. In 1921 the total cost of these reparations was assessed at 132 billion marks (then $31.4 billion or £6.6 billion, roughly equivalent to US$442 billion or UK£284 billion in 2019). At the time economists, notably John Maynard Keynes (a British delegate to the Paris Peace Conference), predicted that the treaty was too harsh—a "Carthaginian peace"—and said the reparations figure was excessive and counter-productive, views that, since then, have been the subject of ongoing debate by historians and economists from several countries. On the other hand, prominent figures on the Allied side such as French Marshal Ferdinand Foch criticized the treaty for treating Germany too leniently.

The result of these competing and sometimes conflicting goals among the victors was a compromise that left no one content: Germany was neither pacified nor conciliated, nor was it permanently weakened. The problems that arose from the treaty would lead to the Locarno Treaties, which improved relations between Germany and the other European powers, and the re-negotiation of the reparation system resulting in the Dawes Plan, the Young Plan, and the indefinite postponement of reparations at the Lausanne Conference of 1932.

Although it is often referred to as the "Versailles Conference", only the actual signing of the treaty took place at the historic palace. Most of the negotiations were in Paris, with the "Big Four" meetings taking place generally at the Quai d'Orsay.

Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons

The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, commonly known as the Non-Proliferation Treaty or NPT, is an international treaty whose objective is to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology, to promote cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, and to further the goal of achieving nuclear disarmament and general and complete disarmament. Between 1965 and 1968, the treaty was negotiated by the Eighteen Nation Committee on Disarmament, a United Nations-sponsored organization based in Geneva, Switzerland.

Opened for signature in 1968, the treaty entered into force in 1970. As required by the text, after twenty-five years, NPT Parties met in May 1995 and agreed to extend the treaty indefinitely. More countries have adhered to the NPT than any other arms limitation and disarmament agreement, a testament to the treaty's significance. As of August 2016, 191 states have adhered to the treaty, though North Korea, which acceded in 1985 but never came into compliance, announced its withdrawal from the NPT in 2003, following detonation of nuclear devices in violation of core obligations. Four UN member states have never accepted the NPT, three of which possess nuclear weapons: India, Israel, and Pakistan. In addition, South Sudan, founded in 2011, has not joined.

The treaty defines nuclear-weapon states as those that have built and tested a nuclear explosive device before 1 January 1967; these are the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, and China. Four other states are known or believed to possess nuclear weapons: India, Pakistan, and North Korea have openly tested and declared that they possess nuclear weapons, while Israel is deliberately ambiguous regarding its nuclear weapons status.

The NPT is often seen to be based on a central bargain:

the NPT non-nuclear-weapon states agree never to acquire nuclear weapons and the NPT nuclear-weapon states in exchange agree to share the benefits of peaceful nuclear technology and to pursue nuclear disarmament aimed at the ultimate elimination of their nuclear arsenals.

The treaty is reviewed every five years in meetings called Review Conferences of the Parties to the Treaty of Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. Even though the treaty was originally conceived with a limited duration of 25 years, the signing parties decided, by consensus, to unconditionally extend the treaty indefinitely during the Review Conference in New York City on 11 May 1995, in the culmination of U.S. government efforts led by Ambassador Thomas Graham Jr.

At the time the NPT was proposed, there were predictions of 25–30 nuclear weapon states within 20 years. Instead, over forty years later, five states are not parties to the NPT, and they include the only four additional states believed to possess nuclear weapons. Several additional measures have been adopted to strengthen the NPT and the broader nuclear nonproliferation regime and make it difficult for states to acquire the capability to produce nuclear weapons, including the export controls of the Nuclear Suppliers Group and the enhanced verification measures of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Additional Protocol.

Critics argue that the NPT cannot stop the proliferation of nuclear weapons or the motivation to acquire them. They express disappointment with the limited progress on nuclear disarmament, where the five authorized nuclear weapons states still have 22,000 warheads in their combined stockpile and have shown a reluctance to disarm further. Several high-ranking officials within the United Nations have said that they can do little to stop states using nuclear reactors to produce nuclear weapons.

Warsaw Pact

The Warsaw Pact, formally known as the Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance, was a collective defence treaty signed in Warsaw, Poland among the Soviet Union and seven Soviet satellite states of Central and Eastern Europe in May 1955, during the Cold War. The Warsaw Pact was the military complement to the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (CoMEcon), the regional economic organization for the socialist states of Central and Eastern Europe. The Warsaw Pact was created in reaction to the integration of West Germany into NATO in 1955 per the London and Paris Conferences of 1954, but it is also considered to have been motivated by Soviet desires to maintain control over military forces in Central and Eastern Europe.The Warsaw Pact was established as a balance of power or counterweight to NATO; there was no direct confrontation between them. Instead, the conflict was fought on an ideological basis and in proxy wars. Both NATO and the Warsaw Pact led to the expansion of military forces and their integration into the respective blocs. Its largest military engagement was the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia in August 1968 (with the participation of all Pact nations except Albania, Romania and East Germany), which, in part, resulted in Albania withdrawing from the pact less than a month later. The Pact began to unravel in its entirety with the spread of the Revolutions of 1989 through the Eastern Bloc, beginning with the Solidarity movement in Poland and its electoral success in June 1989.

East Germany withdrew from the Pact following reunification with West Germany in 1990. On 25 February 1991, the Pact was declared at an end at a meeting of defence and foreign ministers from the six remaining member states in Hungary. The USSR itself was dissolved in December 1991, although most of the former Soviet republics formed the Collective Security Treaty Organization shortly thereafter. Throughout the following 20 years, the seven Warsaw Pact countries outside the USSR each joined NATO (East Germany through its reunification with West Germany; and the Czech Republic and Slovakia as separate countries), as did the three Baltic states (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania) that had been part of the Soviet Union.

Withdrawal from the European Union

Withdrawal from the European Union is the legal and political process whereby an EU member state ceases to be a member of the Union. Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU) states that "Any Member State may decide to withdraw from the Union in accordance with its own constitutional requirements".As of February 2019, no member state has withdrawn from the EU (or the EC); however, the Government of the United Kingdom triggered Article 50 to begin the UK's withdrawal from the EU in March 2017 following a referendum, and the withdrawal was scheduled in law to occur on 29 March 2019.Three territories of EU member states have withdrawn: French Algeria (in 1962, upon independence), Greenland (in 1985, following a referendum) and Saint Barthélemy (in 2012), the latter two becoming Overseas Countries and Territories of the European Union.

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