When it comes to international diplomacy and agreements between nations, two terms that are frequently used are “international agreement” and “convention”. Although these terms are often used interchangeably, there are some subtle differences between them. In this article, we will explore the meanings of these terms and the nuances that set them apart.

International Agreement

An international agreement is a legally binding agreement between two or more countries. It can also be known as a treaty, protocol or covenant. International agreements can cover a broad range of issues, such as trade, human rights, environmental protection, and disarmament. An international agreement can be bilateral, involving only two countries, or multilateral, involving many countries.

International agreements are signed by the representatives of the participating nations and are usually ratified by their respective governments. Once ratified, an international agreement becomes part of the domestic law of each participating country. Failure to comply with the terms of an international agreement can result in legal action being taken against the non-complying country.


A convention is also a legally binding agreement between two or more countries. However, unlike an international agreement, a convention is usually more specific in its scope. For example, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child specifically deals with the rights of children, whereas an international agreement on human rights would cover a broader range of issues.

Conventions are often agreed upon by multiple countries to establish and enforce standards in a particular field. These can include environmental conventions, like the Paris Agreement, which aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate climate change, or conventions related to intellectual property, such as the Berne Convention.

One key difference between a convention and an international agreement is that a convention may not require ratification by the participating countries’ governments. Instead, a country may become a signatory to a convention by simply signing it. However, signatories are still expected to comply with the provisions of the convention.


In summary, international agreements and conventions are both important tools in international diplomacy. While the terms are often used interchangeably, there are distinct differences between them. International agreements are broader in scope and cover several areas, while conventions are more specific and cover particular issues. Furthermore, conventions may not always require ratification by the participating governments, while international agreements do. All in all, it is important for governments to understand the nuances between these two terms when engaging in international diplomacy.