35 Negotiating contracts at conferences involves major organizational and administrative tasks, often carried out by the secretariat of the Organization which sponsors the conference (international organizations or institutions, secretariats). This includes enabling the smooth running of negotiations through immediate translation and interpretation services, as well as the distribution of relevant documents. This may also include broader tasks, such as conducting substantive studies or participating in the development of a first negotiating text. It can also take the form of influence on the topics on the agenda of meetings, discussion of negotiating difficult issues, or communication of compromises and agreements. Sometimes secretariats have a de facto influence on the content of an international treaty. Under international law, a treaty is a legally binding agreement between states (countries). A treaty can be called a convention, protocol, pact, agreement, etc. It is the content of the agreement, not its name, that makes it a treaty. Thus, the Geneva Protocol and the Biological Weapons Convention are the two treaties, although neither treaty in its name. Under U.S. law, a treaty is a legally binding agreement between countries that requires ratification and “consultation and approval” of the Senate. All other agreements (internationally treated) are called executive agreements, but are nevertheless legally binding on the United States under international law. 94 This principle derives from Article 31, paragraph 3, point c) of the VCLT and requires the interpretation of the treaty in light of “all relevant rules of international law applicable in relations between the parties.” This principle was one of the most neglected issues in treaty interpretation.
However, it has become increasingly important in terms of the fragmentation of international law, its diversification and its expansion. 2 This article focuses on treaty law within the boundaries of the VCLT, also taking into account the relevant rules of customary international law.