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About international treaty making

Issue date: 
Friday, 4 August 2017
Issue status: 
Published by: 
Version note: 

This publication is part of the CabGuide.


This section provides information on international treaty making and the process for international treaty papers, including:

  • the difference between international treaties and arrangements
  • an outline of when Cabinet’s approval is required during the international treaty process
  • requirements for international treaty papers, including information that should be provided to Cabinet or Cabinet committees, consultation with the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT), the need for a National Interest Analysis (NIA), application to Tokelau, and an example template of an international treaty action paper
  • the key features of the parliamentary treaty examination process.

MFAT must be consulted on papers seeking approval for treaty action, as well as on any proposal to enter into an arrangement. MFAT can also provide advice on the nature of a particular instrument.

What is the difference between international treaties and arrangements?

The government concludes a range of international instruments with other countries and international organisations. The two types of instrument that the government may conclude are:

  • international treaties, which are instruments that are legally binding under international law
  • arrangements, which are instruments of less than treaty status, i.e. not legally binding, but have moral or political weight.

Refer to the following pages for more information

Last updated: 
Sunday, 23 August 2015

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