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Treaty Making by the ROK

Bilateral Treaty-Making Process

  • Why the treaty-making process is important

    A treaty is a promise made among subjects of international law and stipulates certain legal rights and obligations. The breach of a treaty is a matter of legal responsibility. The treaty-making process is important in this respect, and can be regarded as the process in which a State makes a legal contract with other States or other subjects of international law.

    A treaty duly concluded has the same effect as the domestic laws of the Republic of Korea, which the people of Korea have the obligation to observe.

    Therefore, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which controls and coordinates foreign relations, endeavors to reflect and respect national interests when concluding treaties.

  • How a bilateral treaty is concluded



    • Decision on the Necessity of a Treaty


    • Negotiation and Drafting of an Agreed Text


      Negotiations for the Korea-Australia Social Security Agreement


    • Beginning of the Domestic Procedure


    • Review by the Ministry of Government Legislation


    • Deliberation by the State Council


    • Approval by the President


    • Signature
      Signing Ceremony for the Agreement on Economic Cooperation between Korea and Sri Lanka

      Signing Ceremony for the Agreement on Economic Cooperation between Korea and Sri Lanka


      signature, full powers
    • Consent to the Ratification of the Text by the National Assembly

      Article 60, paragraph 1 of the Constitution stipulates that the consent of the National Assembly is required for the ratification of treaties pertaining to mutual assistance or mutual security; treaties concerning major international organizations; treaties of friendship, trade and navigation; treaties pertaining to any restriction of sovereignty; peace treaties; treaties which will burden the State or people with any significant financial obligation; or any treaties of a legislative nature. In such case, the Director-General for Treaties drafts a ratification bill requesting the consent of the National Assembly to the conclusion and ratification of treaties, and the government then submits the bill to the National Assembly.

      The requirement for obtaining the consent of the National Assembly means the legislative branch of the government exercises its democratic control over acts of the administrative branch, in accordance with the principle of checks and balances.

    • Ratification


      minutes for the exchange of instruments of ratification, instrument of ratification
    • Promulgation

      In order to have domestic effect, treaties which were concluded through the above-mentioned process need to be promulgated in the official gazette. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs requests the Ministry of the Interior and Safety to promulgate such treaties. They are listed on the following website;

      click to open link

      Separately with this promulgation, the bilateral treaties which enters into force are also listed on the MOFA website

      click to move

      Article 6, paragraph 1 of the Constitution states that treaties duly concluded and promulgated under the Constitution shall have the same effect as the domestic laws of the Republic of Korea.

Multilateral Treaty-Making Process

  • How a multilateral treaty is concluded

    • How is a multilateral treaty concluded?


    • Decision on the Necessity of Joining a Multilateral Treaty

      invitation to the convention on the trasfer of sentenced persons First, a decision on the necessity of joining a multilateral treaty is made by the relevant ministries. In case of joining a newly adopted treaty, the Government may send government officials and experts to international conferences to take part in the work of drafting the text of the relevant treaty.

    • Beginning of the Domestic Procedure


    • Review by the Ministry of Government Legislation


    • Deliberation by the State Council


    • Signature and Approval by the President

      After the deliberation by the State Council, the Director-General for Treaties submits the treaty text to the Foreign Minister and Prime Minister for their approval. After that, the text is given the President's constitutional approval for the signature by a representative of the Government or the consent by the National assembly to the ratification of the treaty. In accordance with the Act on the Appointment and Powers of Government Delegates and Special Envoys, the Minister of Foreign Affairs may sign a treaty without requiring full powers issued by the President.

      Any other person may be appointed as a representative and sign a treaty if he or she possesses a valid instrument of full powers, which is issued by the Minister of Foreign Affairs. However, in the case of signing certain types of treaties, the President, on the recommendation of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, will appoint the representative and issue full powers. The Director-General for Treaties prepares the instruments of full powers.

    • Consent to the Ratification of the Treaty by the National Assembly

      In accordance with Article 60, paragraph 1 of the Constitution, the ratification of some treaties requires the consent of the National Assembly. The Ministry of Government Legislation, considering the opinion of the Director-General for Treaties, decides whether or not the proposed treaty requires the consent of the National Assembly.

      To get the consent of the National Assembly, the Director-General for Treaties drafts a ratification bill requesting the consent of the National Assembly to the treaty, and next the government submits the bill to the National Assembly.

    • Ratification


    • Promulgation


      click to move

      A duly concluded and promulgated multilateral treaty will have the same legal effect as the domestic legislation.

    • Amendments and Advice

      Amendments of a treaty also follow the same procedures as outlined above.

      Upon request by related ministries or other offices of MOFA, the Director-General for Treaties offers information about the treaty, such as the status of the state parties and the interpretation or application of the treaty.

    • Can an international organization conclude a treaty with states?

      The traditional view is that only states are able to conclude a treaty. There is no doubt that international law is still applied primarily to states, but in recent years, international law may apply to other international actors as well.

      In particular, international organizations play a pivotal role in the international society. International organizations are often established by international treaties, which determine their status and functions including their legal capacity. Most international organizations have international legal personalities and thus have the legal capacity to conclude treaties with States or other international organizations. (The Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties between States and International Organizations or between International Organizations provides the set of rules for the conclusion of treaties between them.)

      However, it should also be noted that an international organization is permitted to conclude a treaty only within the framework of the purposes and functions of that organization authorized by its constitutional convention or statute. For example, it is not possible for the World Health Organization to make a mutual defense treaty with States on the Pacific, as such a treaty would be beyond the authority of the WHO.

      UN General Assembly

      UN General Assembly

      Procedures for Concluding Bilateral Treaties
      Procedures for Concluding Multilateral Treaties

Recent Trends and Statistics of Treaties in Korea

  • Conclusion of treaties


    Treaties Concluded by the Republic of Korea (by date of entry into force)
    (December 31, 2018, MOFA)

    Treaties Concluded by the Republic of Korea
    Year 1948~
    Number of bilateral treaties concluded 66 229 329 329 531 649 451 2,584   
    Number of multilateral treaties concluded 36 63 93 116 135 168  91 702
    subtotal 102 292 422 445 666 817 542 3,286   
  • Recent trend in the conclusion of treaties

    The recent trend in concluding treaties in Korea can be summarized as follows:
    First, the number of the treaties has increased rapidly. 39 bilateral treaties were concluded in 2017, whereas only 66 were concluded in the entire period from 1948 to 1960. Second, regarding bilateral treaties, areas in which treaties are concluded has expanded and an increasing number of treaties related to economic matters such as conventions for avoiding double taxation, and agreements for the protection of investment and air service agreements have been concluded increasingly. Third, regarding multilateral treaties, treaties dealing with global matters such as trade, human rights, and disarmament has been concluded increasingly, which reflects the fact that States have strengthened inter-dependent relations among themselves.

Efforts to promote public understanding of Treaty Affairs


    Negotiations for the Korea-Australia Social Security Agreement



  • What is an 'agency-to-agency arrangement'?


  • How an agency-to-agency arrangement is concluded


  • Signatory of an agency-to-agency arrangement

    The signatory of an agency-to-agency arrangement is the head of the agency. In case the head cannot sign an arrangement, another high-ranking officer of the agency, authorized by the head, may sign the arrangement.

    It is not appropriate for an Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to sign an arrangement on behalf of an agency, as an ambassador is a diplomat, representing a State, and not a particular agency.

  • What is an 'agency-to-agency arrangement'?

    It is desirable for government agencies to request the Director for Treaties of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to review an agency-to-agency arrangement before its signature.

    This is because an agency may inadvertently conclude an arrangement dealing with matters out of its competence, which could cause problems with the other State as well as with other agencies in its own State. Therefore, by cooperating with the agency which concludes the arrangement and participating in the process of concluding arrangement, the Director-General for Treaties endeavors to maintain the consistency of foreign relations and prevent any problems from arising.

  • What is an 'agency-to-agency arrangement'?

    Agency-to-agency arrangements shall not include provisions which generate legal rights and obligations for States. Also, the arrangements shall not deal with matters that fall within the competence of other agencies. An arrangement should only deal with matters which fall within the competence of the agency which concludes it.

    It is desirable to insert the following sentence in order to clarify the character of the agency-to-agency arrangement: "All the activities under this Arrangement will be subject to the availability of appropriate funds and personnel and to the laws and regulations of the respective countries."