Difference Between Convention and Declaration

Convention vs Declaration
 

Convention and declaration, though the two words are confused to be the same by some people, are two different words having a clear difference between their meanings. When paying attention to the world arena, in the study of international relations, the two terms convention and declaration are widely used. This is not to say that these words are only used in international studies. On the contrary, convention and declaration are words used in a number of contexts such as with reference to governments, society, etc. You may have heard of various declarations and conventions specially adopted by the United Nations. However, a convention and a declaration are not the same, and cannot be used interchangeably. First, let us define these two words. A convention can simply be understood as an agreement. In a social context, this can be unwritten although adhered to. But, in a more formal setting such as in the case of international law, a convention has a clear established upon, framework. On the other hand, a declaration refers to an agreed upon document. The main difference between a convention and a declaration is that while a convention is legally binding, a declaration is not. Through this article let us comprehend this major difference in the light of International Studies.

What is a Convention?

A convention can be understood as an agreement among countries to act in a particular manner. When looking at the international arena many examples for conventions can be given from the United Nations. When the General Assembly of the UN adopts a particular convention, the states that ratify the agreement have to act by the convention. If the states go against the convention, the UN has a clear right to take action. Here are some examples for some of the famous conventions.

  • Convention on the Rights of Children
  • Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women
  • Geneva Convention

Let us take the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women. According to this convention that was implemented in 1981, member states are requested to take actions to prevent discrimination of women and also to create better opportunities for women for them to achieve equality.

In sociology, a convention or else a social convention refers to unwritten customs of a particular group of people in a society. These are standards of behavior which are considered as appropriate by the people. If individuals go against social conventions, they are often alienated from the majority.

Difference Between Convention and Declaration

What is a Declaration?

A declaration can be understood as a document where states have agreed to act in a particular manner. However, the key distinction between a declaration and a convention is that unlike a convention which has a legal validity, a declaration does not. Here are some examples of declarations.

UN declaration on the rights of Indigenous people

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Although declarations play a significant role in the international arena, some countries violate the standards of behavior; especially, in the case of the rights of indigenous people.

 Convention vs Declaration

What is the difference between Convention and Declaration?

Definitions of Convention and Declaration:

Convention: A convention can be understood as an agreement among countries to act in a particular manner.

Declaration: A declaration can be understood as a document that states appropriate standards.

Characteristics of Convention and Declaration:

Legal Nature:

Convention: A convention has legal binding.

Declaration: A declaration does not have legal binding.

UN Performance:

Convention: In the case of a violation, the UN can take actions against the member states if it is a convention.

Declaration: In the case of a violation, the UN cannot take actions against the member states if it is a declaration.

 

Images Courtesy:

  1. UN General Assembly by Patrick Gruban (CC BY-SA 2.0)
  2. Eleanor Roosevelt with the English version of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights via Wikicommons (Public Domain)