APPRAISAL OF RATIFICATION AND DOMESTICATION OF TREATIES IN NIGERIA: THE PROCEDURAL CHALLENGES
BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
A great number of laws that make up the Nigerian body of laws emanates from treaties. Consequently in Nigeria, treaties do not automatically have force of law or becomes applicable and enforceable unless enacted into law by the National Assembly. Hence, Section 12(1) of the Constitution provides as follows:-
No treaty between the Federation and any other country shall have the force of law except to which any such treaty has been enacted into law by the National Assembly. This Section further provides that where the subject-matter of a treaty falls outside the Exclusive Legislative List, a bill for an Act of the National Assembly to give the treaty the force of law must be ratified by a majority of all the Houses of Assembly in the Federation before it is enacted into law and assented by the President. It follows, therefore, that until a treaty has been domesticated in Nigeria, it cannot be applied within the country. Treaties are governed by international law embodied in the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties signed on 23rd May, 1969 and entered into force on 27th January, 1980. Treaties are known by different names which include conventions, protocols, declaration, charter, covenant, pact, act, statute, agreement, concordat, modus vivendi, exchange of notes (or letters), process verbal, final act and general act. Article 2 (1)(a) of the Convention provides:
For the purposes of the present Convention; Treaty means an international agreement concluded between States in written form and governed by international law, whether embodied in a single instrument or in two or more related instruments and whatever its particular designation…
Every State is competent to enter into treaties regarding matters that fall within its sovereignty. This capacity in itself is an attribute of statehood as prescribed in the Montevideo Convention which provides as follows:
The State as a person – i.e. subject of international law should possess the following qualification:-
- a permanent population;
- a defined territory;
- capacity to enter into relation with other States.
Treaties may be bilateral or multilateral and have formed an important basis for the determination of rights and obligations of States that are Party to them. According to Prof. M. T.
Ladan; “one of the characteristics of the law of treaty is that the treaty construction is frequently used not only for the conduct of international transaction of various kinds, but it is also used to impose binding rules of precision and details in various areas of international law (eg human rights, environment and humanitarian law)”.