state contract

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A state treaty is a contract in which at least one of the contracting parties is a state body .


Contracts can not only be concluded - mutually or among each other - between natural persons or companies , but also between states. They then form part of international law . The content must go beyond the mere administrative agreement - which can be concluded by the executive without the involvement of the legislature . In a narrower sense, a state treaty is an international agreement that has international legal status and is between two or more stateshas been agreed. Treaties between two states are called ' bilateral ', those between several states have a plurilateral or multilateral character. State treaties in Germany regulate the political relations of the federal government or relate to subjects of federal legislation. The contents of the State Treaty can only be implemented within the country if legislative acts translate its contents into laws.

The language used for the State Treaty is not uniform in the German-speaking area. Conventions that a state body concludes with other organizations, such as non-governmental organizations (in Switzerland and Germany ) or a so-called state church treaty with a religious or ideological community are usually also mentioned .


A state treaty is preceded by bilateral or multilateral negotiations between the negotiators of the contracting parties, the interim results of which are summarized in a term sheet and initialed by the parties . If the desired goals of the contract have been achieved, the international treaties are signed in a media-effective manner with a mutual exchange of the signed documents. Whether a state treaty already becomes legally effective through this signature depends on the national law of the states concerned. If the approval of parliament or other state organs is still required, this process is called ratification . Approval takes place domestically through a law ("Contract Law"), which also ensures the transformation (implementation) of the content into national law (" Transformation Act "). A signature is only possible after this law has come into force. If it is signed beforehand, an international treaty is pending ineffective .

Content and types

The state treaty is a source of law and creates law in an objective sense. Depending on whether international treaties apply to all states in the world or only between the contracting parties, a distinction is made between universal and particular international law . According to Article 59, Paragraph 1, Sentence 2 of the Basic Law , the Federal President concludes treaties with foreign states on behalf of the Federation. Article 59 (2) of the Basic Law also stipulates that international treaties that regulate the political relations of the Federation or relate to subjects of federal legislation require the approval of the bodies responsible for federal legislation in the form of a federal law . This only applies to “political treaties” that deal with the “existence of the state, its territorial integrity, its independence, its position or its significant weight in the international community”. These include agreements on political cooperation, alliances , peace , non-aggression , armistice , neutrality or disarmament treaties . In terms of content, they go beyond public affairs , the common good or state affairs . Whether a cultural agreement or a trade agreement is a “political state contract” depends on the individual case.

State treaties between states in practice:

Important international treaties

Seen eldest State Treaty between Portugal and England closed Treaty of Windsor on May 9, 1386. Salzburg and Bavaria concluded on January 15, 1530 a the Vogt court Mühldorf and Neumarkt and other Jurisdiktions disputes relevant treaty. The legal term of the State Treaty appeared in German law for the first time in 1773 by the lexicographer Johann Georg Krünitz in his encyclopedia . A treaty between France and Holland dated May 24, 1806 regulated the independence of the Netherlands . The Rhine was the subject of many treaties, such as the treaty of the German Empire with the Netherlands and Switzerland on salmon fishing in the Rhine of June 30, 1885. The treaty concluded between Austria-Hungary and Switzerland on December 13, 1892 dealt with the Rhine regulation in the region. The Treaty of Saint-Germain of September 10, 1919 regulated the dissolution of the Austrian half of the Austrian Empire (“the kingdoms and states represented in the Reichsrat”) of Austria-Hungary and the conditions for the new Republic of German-Austria after the First World War . With the State Treaty signed in Vienna on May 15, 1955 , Austria regained its full political sovereignty. The unification treaty between the Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic on the dissolution of the GDR, its accession to the Federal Republic of Germany and German unification came into force on September 29, 1990. The Treaty of Lisbon , signed on December 13, 2007, reformed the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty establishing the European Community , which were also international treaties.


If the federal government wants to conclude a state treaty or another international treaty that affects the legislative competence of the federal states in whole or in part , it must first obtain the consent of the federal states concerned in accordance with the Lindau Agreement . According to Article 32.3 of the Basic Law, the states themselves can conclude state treaties with foreign states if they obtain the consent of the federal government for this . In Germany as the countries have their own legislative powers ( Art. 70  have ff. Basic Law), the term (even for contracts between two bilateral ) or more ( multilateral ) states applied ( countries treaties ). There are no provisions in the Basic Law about the procedure for the conclusion of such contracts. However, a practice that is essentially based on the provisions of international treaties has developed. The ratification of a treaty by each individual federal state is essential. If the state parliament of one or more states votes against the ratification and this does not take place, this does not in principle affect the legal effect of the treaty between the other states. In order to prevent a state treaty from being ratified by too few countries, a quorum can be agreed in the treaty that stipulates a minimum number of ratifying countries. Often economic cooperation or border matters are regulated in these international treaties. Examples of such contracts are the establishment of the ZDF , the State Broadcasting Treaty and the State Treaty on Gambling . The purpose of an intra-German interstate treaty is to combine legal regulations, which, due to the competencies of the federal states, would actually be a matter for the respective state governments, in a nationwide regulation and thus create legal unity. The respective state parliaments then have to incorporate this state treaty into a state law by means of a so-called approval law (transformation law). Only after this ratification of the State Treaty by all participating state parliaments can the treaty come into force.

As treaty also the agreement of the German state is Schleswig-Holstein with Sinti and Roma referred consisting since 14 November 2012 as well as the agreement envisaged the country Baden-Wuerttemberg with the Association of German Sinti and Roma Baden-Württemberg, in March 2013 was also announced as a state treaty and was decided on December 18, 2013. The aim of the treaty is to express historical responsibility towards Sinti and Roma who were subjected to persecution and genocide under the Nazi regime .

For some years now there have been efforts in Germany to define the social role, namely the rights and obligations of Islamic religious communities ( Muslims and Alevis ), but also those of the state in relation to the Islamic communities in the form of international treaties. These treaties cannot be compared with the Papal States treaties, since the churches, unlike the Islamic communities at present (with the exception of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat in Hesse ), are corporations under public law . As such, the churches are “ loyal to the Basic Law ”, and they are “designed to be permanent and representational”, which for Muslim associations, which often perform more political than originally religious tasks, must first be determined by an expert in the run-up to state treaty negotiations. For the Muslim communities, only constitutionally guaranteed rights are re-established and specified in detail in accordance with the wishes and demands of the respective religious communities, but also those of the state. Such contracts have now been negotiated and put into effect in the city states of Bremen and Hamburg . For the federal state of Lower Saxony , agreement on a state treaty paper with selected Muslim communities, such as the DITIB and the Schura Niedersachsen , is expected in the course of 2016 .


In Switzerland , the term international treaty is used in a similar sense. There can be state treaties with other states, but there can also be state treaties with organizations . State treaties between cantons are called concordats .


In Austria , on the one hand, there are international treaties between the Republic of Austria and other states, but this term is not used - as in Switzerland and Germany - for contracts between a state body and non-governmental organizations . In certain cases, the federal states can also conclude international treaties with third countries ( Art. 16 Paragraphs 2 and 3 B-VG ). Contracts between the federal government and the federal states as well as between the federal states among themselves are referred to as agreements according to Art. 15a B-VG .

The general usage of the language means the State Treaty in particular the Austrian State Treaty , which was signed on May 15, 1955 in the Belvedere Palace and which restored the country's independence. In addition, he regulated the reparations to the Soviet Union, the withdrawal of the four occupying powers and the establishment of the armed forces , economy, aviation and the legal system.

See also

Individual evidence

  1. For the definition in Austria, see Foreign Ministry: State Contracts ( Memento from January 16, 2013 in the Internet Archive ). They are to be viewed solely as a foreign policy contract format.
  2. BVerfG, judgment of July 29, 1962 = BVerfGE 1, 372, 382
  3. ^ Rudolf Weber-Fas, State Contracts in International Tax Law , 1982, p. 63 .
  4. ^ Pia Eberhardt, Corporations versus States: With Arbitration Courts against Democracy , in: Blätter für deutsche und internationale Politik , April 2013, pp. 29–33.
  5. ^ Karl-Maria Freiherr von Aretin, Chronological Directory of the Bavarian State Contracts , 1838, p. 9 .
  6. ^ Karl Heinrich Ludwig Pölitz / Friedrich Bülau, The European Constitutions since 1789 , 1833, p. 181 .
  7. Current term - treaties between the federal states (PDF; 71 kB), Scientific Services of the German Bundestag , September 19, 2007, accessed on November 5, 2017.
  8. Cf. on this Theodor Schweisfurth , Völkerrecht , Rn 21 (State treaties as "nationally, usually politically particularly important treaties that require parliamentary approval")
  9. ^ Maja Bahtijarevic: Schleswig-Holstein. Minority with constitutional status , Deutsche Welle , December 26, 2012.
  10. ^ Land and people: The German Sinti and Roma ( Memento from December 2, 2010 in the Internet Archive ) Website of the Schleswig-Holstein state government .
  11. ^ Association of German Sinti and Roma - Landesverband Baden-Württemberg e. V. ( Memento from April 13, 2013 in the Internet Archive )
  12. Commemoration. 70th anniversary of the deportation of Sinti and Roma from Baden-Württemberg , Baden-Wü press release from March 15, 2013.
  13. ^ Act on the contract between the state of Baden-Württemberg and the Association of German Sinti and Roma, Landesverband Baden-Württemberg e. V. ( Memento of May 13, 2014 in the Internet Archive ) (PDF), legislative resolution of the Baden-Württemberg State Parliament , printed matter 15/4528 of January 8, 2014.
  14. State treaty signed with Sinti and Roma , photo gallery on Baden-Wü (undated)
  15. Christine Schirrmacher : Islam and Democracy - A Contrast? , SCM Hänssler, Holzgerlingen 2013, p. 20.
  16. See legal opinion on the quality of "DITIB Landesverband Hamburg eV", "SCHURA - Council of Islamic Communities in Hamburg eV" and "Association of Islamic Cultural Centers" eV Cologne as religious communities and other aspects of their suitability as a cooperation partner of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg in religious law matters , prepared on behalf of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg by Dr. Heinrich de Wall . Erlangen, March 9, 2011.
  17. ^ Database of State Treaties