in the broad sense of the term, any international agreement establishing mutual rights and obligations of the states that have ratified it. As a rule, however, the term “international convention” is applied to an agreement regulating a particular sphere of relations between states.
The most important international conventions are multilateral. Such conventions constitute, as it were, acts of international lawmaking (traités-lois, lawmaking treaties) and contain general norms. International conventions of this type may be divided into several groups.
(1) International conventions establishing the legal status of a particular territory and any accompanying political obligations. The first such international convention was included in the final act of the Congress of Vienna of 1814–15, which had a provision on the recognition and guarantee of the perpetual neutrality of Switzerland.
(2) International conventions on maritime law. A whole series of such conventions was signed at the Geneva Conference of 1958: on the high seas, on territorial waters and the adjoining zones, on the continental shelf, and on fishing and the protection of resources on the high seas. This group also includes conventions regulating the legal status of international waterways, rivers, and straits, as well as conventions on specific aspects of maritime navigation, such as the conventions on the protection of underwater telegraph cables (1884), on aid and rescue at sea (1910), on the conditions of naval ports (1923), and on the protection of human life at sea (1960).
(3) International conventions regulating the legal conditions of airspace and the flights of aircraft, such as the conventions on international civil aviation (1944), the unification of some rules relating to international air shipments (1944), and the international recognition of the right to aircraft (1948).
(4) A group of international conventions regulating questions related to the exploration of outer space.
(5) International conventions on the protection of the rights of man and the development of political, economic, and civil rights, such as the international pacts on human rights of man, the legal status of refugees (1951), the political rights of women (1952), the inadmissibility of discrimination in education (1960), and the liquidation of all forms of racial discrimination (1965).
(6) International conventions on crime, such as those on ending slavery (1926), limiting the dissemination of pornographic publications (1923), preventing the counterfeiting of currency (1929), controlling drugs (the unified international convention on narcotics of 1961), dealing with crimes and other acts committed on board an aircraft (1963), and combating the illegal seizure of aircraft (1970).
(7) International conventions relating to crimes against humanity, such as the conventions on prevention and punishment of genocide (1948) and conventions on the inapplicability of the statute of limitations to war crimes and crimes against humanity (1968).
(8) International conventions on the laws and conduct of wars, such as the Hague Conventions and the Geneva Conventions of 1949.
(9) International conventions on diplomatic and consular law, such as the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations (1963) and the Convention on Special Missions (1969).
(10) International conventions on the legal status of international organizations and of their officials and employees.
(11) International conventions on the peaceful settlement of international disputes and conflicts. The Hague Conferences of 1899 and 1907 presented the first comprehensive treatment of these questions.
(12) The international conventions on working conditions adopted by the International Labor Organization (ILO).
A specific group of international conventions establishes general rules of concluding, changing, and annulling international treaties and agreements. The UN conferences on the status of international treaties of 1968 and 1969 drew up and adopted for the first time an international convention on the status of international treaties.
International conventions may also be adopted by individual groups of states, in which case they are called regional international conventions.
REFERENCEKurs mezhdunarodnogo prava, vol. 4. Moscow, 1968. Pages 130–310.
V. I. MENZHINSKII