The implementation of executive agreements increased considerably after 1939. Prior to 1940, the U.S. Senate had ratified 800 treaties and presidents had concluded 1,200 executive agreements; From 1940 to 1989, during World War II and the Cold War, presidents signed nearly 800 treaties, but concluded more than 13,000 executive treaties. Executive agreement, an agreement between the United States and a foreign government that is less formal than a treaty and is not subject to the constitutional requirement for ratification by two-thirds of the U.S. Senate. In part because the powers of Congress and the president have been widely interpreted, most of the agreements proposed as treaties could have been proposed as executive agreements of Congress. That`s why the U.S. government has often chosen to use congressional executive agreements over treaties for controversial agreements that are unlikely to get the super-majority required in the Senate. The 1992 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the agreement by which the United States became members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 1995 are examples of controversial proposals that are dealt with in the form of agreements between Congress and the executive branch. This article deals with executive agreements between nations in general.
For more information on U.S. foreign policy executive agreements, see U.S. foreign policy. An executive agreement is an agreement between the heads of government of two or more nations that has not been ratified by the legislature, since the treaties are ratified. Executive agreements are considered politically binding to distinguish them from legally binding contracts. In the United States, executive agreements are made exclusively by the President of the United States. They are one of three mechanisms through which the United States makes binding international commitments. Some authors view executive agreements as treaties of international law because they bind both the United States and another sovereign state. However, under U.S.
constitutional law, executive agreements are not considered treaties within the meaning of the contractual clause of the U.S. Constitution, which requires the Council and the approval of two-thirds of the Senate to be considered a treaty. Some other nations have similar provisions for treaty ratification. These examples are automatically selected from different online sources of information to reflect the current use of the term “executive agreement.” The opinions expressed in the examples do not reflect the views of Merriam-Webster or its publishers.