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The ratification (also ratification , substantiation of ratify ; from Latin ratus , "calculated, valid, legally binding", and facere , "make, do"), is a legal technical term that is the legally binding declaration of the confirmation of a previously concluded, i.e. H. signed international treaty by the contracting parties .


This declaration of intent under international law is made by the body of the respective contracting party that represents it externally, usually the respective head of state ; it solemnly promises to regard the treaty as binding and ensures domestic compliance. A ratification document is drawn up on this. In the case of bilateral agreements, this is handed over to the contractual partner; in the case of multilateral agreements, it can be deposited with one of the participating governments . This is then the depositary and is determined in the contract. The treaty usually comes into force with the deposit of the ratification documents or after the expiry of a related period.

Only through this ratification does a z. B. Treaty text initialed by negotiating delegations - it can now only be changed in the context of renegotiations - legal force and is therefore valid under international law. The process has its origins in the conclusion of a contract between princes , which has been preceded by the negotiation of the contractual conditions by authorized representatives. Today, according to general international law and the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, heads of state, heads of government and foreign ministers are authorized to represent their states without special powers.

Joining an existing contract is done through accession .

In terms of constitutional law , the ratification also affects the domestic procedure that leads to ratification under international law. As a rule, the consent of the legislature is required for the conclusion of a contract, in particular with a contract law , international treaty law can be implemented in domestic law; in some countries, however, a referendum can be held under certain conditions . It can therefore take a considerable amount of time from the conclusion of contract negotiations and their signature to actual ratification.


According to Art. 59 of the Basic Law , the Federal President represents Germany under international law . He concludes treaties with foreign states , groups of states or the United Nations . International treaties on political relations of the Federation or with reference to its legislation require a consent law according to Paragraph 2. The procedure follows the basic legislative procedure of the federal government . The same applies analogously to administrative agreements relating to the federal administration and its regulations. The ratification takes place after the approval law has been passed by the Federal President . The Federal President usually authorizes the Foreign Minister, a State Secretary or a German Ambassador to do this . In the case of government agreements and departmental agreements , the federal government or federal ministries can conclude contracts by transferring the rights of the Federal President. If the latter does not act himself, the Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs has the leading and coordinating role. After ratification, the treaty law is promulgated in the Federal Law Gazette.

The implementation of the concluded contract is independent of the ratification. In the case of implementation through parliamentary law , one speaks of a transformation law . There are contracts that have already been fulfilled without a national implementation act.



On the basis of a submission by the Federal Government , which must first be approved by the National Council and the Federal Council (for matters that affect the independent sphere of activity of the federal states), the ratification is carried out by the Federal President . The corresponding ratification document is countersigned by the Federal Chancellor . The corresponding state treaty and the associated ratification must be published by the government in the Federal Law Gazette for the Republic of Austria .

United States

In order to ratify international treaties in the United States of America , two-thirds of the members of the Senate must agree to the US Constitution .

However, Congress can pass laws that allow the President to enter into executive agreements without the approval of the Senate, just as the President can conclude congressional executive agreements that only require a simple majority to ratify , but this time in both Houses of Congress.

An amendment to the US Constitution not only has to be passed by a two-thirds majority in both chambers of congress, the parliaments of three-quarters of all states (currently 38) also have to ratify an amendment to the constitution.

Use of language

Deviating from the legal definition, the expression ratify is also broadly defined in the standard German language : “As a legislative body, bring an international treaty into force”. Here the separation between the individual steps, initialing, adoption of the ratification treaty and promulgation or ratification, is not taken into account. This usage is statistically representative.


Web links

Wiktionary: Ratification  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. a b ratify. In: Digital dictionary of the German language . Retrieved October 13, 2019
  2. a b c d e f Michael Schweitzer , Staatsrecht III - Staatsrecht, Völkerrecht, Europarecht , 10th edition 2010, § 3 BI 4, Rn 143 ff.
  3. ^ Website of the Office of the Federal President
  4. Duden entry
  5. ^ According to vocabulary query, University of Leipzig ( Memento from September 13, 2009 in the Internet Archive ).