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The Effect Of U.S. Ratification As A "Self-Executing" Or As A "Non-Self-Executing" Treaty

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Chapter Summary

When the President obtains the Senate's advice and consent to ratification of a treaty, the treaty is binding on the United States under international law. A treaty, thus properly ratified, creates legal obligations upon the United States. However, when a treaty is said to be non-self-executing, any rights that may arise under the treaty can only be enforceable in the United States if there is additional implementing legislation. The use of non-self-executing declarations from the Senate arose during the Carter Administration's initial attempts to obtain ratification of human rights treaties. Some commentators have argued that Senate declarations that a human rights treaty is non-self-executing are invalid for, among other reasons, violating international law restrictions on treaty conditions; being inconsistent with the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution; and being inconsistent with the government's responsibility, under domestic and international law, to prevent or prosecute treaty violations.

Keywords: human rights treaties; international law; non-self-executing treaty; U.S. ratification



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