From July 1, 2021, the new Law on International Agreements supersedes the 2007 Ordinance on Conclusion and Implementation of International Agreements.
Together with the 2016 Law on Treaties, the Law on International Agreements (the Law) aims to improve the law on conclusion and implementation of documents on international cooperation, thus ensuring the consistency of the legal system and contributing to further institutionalizing the Party’s lines and policies and Article 12 of the 2013 Constitution regarding international integration, and meet domestic agencies’ and organizations’ need to conclude international agreements.
Under the principles set out in the Law, the conclusion of international agreements must be in conformity with the Constitution and laws, national interests, and external policies of Vietnam, and treaties to which Vietnam is a contracting party. It must also be compliant with the principle of respect for national sovereignty and non-intervention in the internal affairs of other states as well as other fundamental principles of international law. The conclusion of international agreements must neither give rise to, change nor terminate rights and obligations of Vietnam in accordance with international law. It is not permitted to conclude international agreements on matters that are required by law to be handled through conclusion of treaties.
Consisting of seven chapters with 52 articles, the Law provides principles, competence, order and procedures for conclusion, amendment, supplementation, extension, and invalidation of, withdrawal from, and suspension and organization of implementation of, international agreements. It also defines responsibilities of related agencies in conclusion and implementation of international agreements.
The Law does not regulate the conclusion and implementation of agreements on official development assistance and concessional loans of foreign donors in accordance with the law on public debt management; agreements on Vietnam’s provision of loans and aid for foreign countries in accordance with the law on Vietnam’s provision of loans and aid for foreign countries; agreements on foreign non-governmental aid in accordance with the law on foreign non-governmental aid; contracts entered into in accordance with the civil law; and public-private partnership investment project contracts entered into in accordance with the law on investment in the form of public-private partnership.
Compared to the 2007 Ordinance, the Law has significant changes mentioned below.
Increase in number of entities that may conclude international agreements
The Law adds new entities competent to conclude international agreements.
Compared to the scope of regulation of the 2007 Ordinance, covering central-level state agencies, provincial-level state agencies and central bodies of organizations, that of the Law additionally covers signatories being general departments and departments under ministries and ministerial-level agencies; specialized agencies of provincial-level People’s Committees, district-level People’s Committees; commune-level People’s Committees in border areas; and provincial-level bodies of socio-political organizations, socio-political-professional organizations, social organizations, and socio-professional organizations.
Particularly, commune-level People’s Committees in border areas may only conclude with foreign signatories being local administrations of the equivalent-level international agreements on exchanges, exchange of information, town twining, and cooperation in border management in conformity with relevant treaties to which Vietnam is a contracting party.
Together with the aforementioned new Vietnamese signatories, foreign states also have a new kind of international agreement signatory being individuals. Under Clause 4, Article 2 of the Law, foreign signatory means a State, National Assembly, Government or local administration, an agency or organization established in accordance with a foreign law, an international organization, or a foreign individual.
The conclusion of agreements other than treaties as defined in the 2016 Law on Treaties in the name of the State or Government is also governed by the Law. For this reason, the Law adds provisions specifying the nature of international agreements to distinguish them from treaties as well as civil, economic, financial, and investment contracts and transactions.
Fast-track order and procedures
The Law devotes a separate chapter, Chapter IV, to dealing with fast-track order and procedures, specifying criteria and conditions for application of the Law in urgent cases to meet political or external affair requirements for the purpose of emergency relief or remediation of consequences of disasters, catastrophes and epidemics. The 2007 Ordinance had no such chapter.
This Chapter establishes fast-track order and procedures for conclusion as well as amendment, supplementation and extension of international agreements.
For the conclusion of an international agreement in the name of the State, National Assembly or Government, fast-track order and procedures are applied if the conclusion complies with the policy and scheme already approved by the President, Prime Minister or National Assembly Chairperson or has been proposed by the President, Prime Minister or National Assembly Chairperson to a competent authority and approved or authorized by the latter; and needs to be urgently handled to meet political or external affair requirements.
For the conclusion of an international agreement in the name of a central-level state agency, provincial-level state agency or the central body of an organization, fast-track order and procedures are applied if a competent agency has permitted the international agreement to be concluded during a Vietnamese high-ranking delegation’s visit to a relevant foreign country or a foreign high-ranking delegation’s visit to Vietnam; or the conclusion needs to be urgently handled to meet political or external affair requirements or for the purpose of emergency relief or remediation of consequences of disasters, catastrophes or epidemics.- (VLLF)