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Am I right in believing that ratification refers to local enforcement of a treaty, upon signing it?

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Most broadly, ratification is the approval, by a principal, of an act by an agent, whereby the agent indicates contingent acceptance (contingent on the principle actually approving). This can be relevant to contracts as well as treaties.

For treaties, the US President has the power to negotiate a treaty, but making it binding on the country requires approval of the Senate. Approval by the Senate is not the same as local enforcement, which may take the form of laws passed by Congress in order to satisfy the terms of a treaty (e.g. the North American Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act). In Australia, under Sect. 61 of the Constitution, the federal government can enter a binding treaty without parliamentary approval, but Parliament has the right to legislate internal affairs under Sect. 51(xxix), so local implementation does not follow automatically from an executive signature. It is hard to say whether any country allows the executive to bind the nation by decree, not requiring approval of a legislative body.

  • Thanks - I know nothing about law, although your explanation's quite technical, you cleared up the discrepancy. – Tobi Feb 7 '17 at 23:22

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