Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Congressional Research: International Law and Agreements: Their Effect Upon U.S. Law

This report provides an introduction to the roles that international law and agreements play in the United States. International law is derived from two primary sources—international agreements and customary practice. Under the U.S. legal system, international agreements can be entered into by means of a treaty or an executive agreement. The Constitution allocates primary responsibility for entering into such agreements to the executive branch, but Congress also plays an essential role. First, in order for a treaty (but not an executive agreement) to become binding upon the United States, the Senate must provide its advice and consent to treaty ratification by a two-thirds majority. Secondly, Congress may authorize congressional-executive agreements. Thirdly, many treaties and executive agreements are not self-executing, meaning that implementing legislation is required to provide U.S. bodies with the domestic legal authority necessary to enforce and comply with an international agreement’s provisions.
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