El objetivo de esta nota es dar a los usuarios una explicación concisa de la terminología utilizada en LegaCarta.


LegaCarta generalmente utiliza el término convención. Vartias otras palabras tienen el mismo significado: convención, tratado, acuerdo y protocolo son a menudo intercambiables. De acuerdo a la Convención de Viena sobre el Derecho de los Tratados (artículo 2.1.a), un tratado o una convenciuón significa “un acuerdo internacional concluído entre Estados en forma escrita y gobernado por el derecho internacional, ya sea incorporado en un instrumento más ámplion form and governed by international law, whether embodied in a single instrument or in two or more related instruments and whatever its particular designation”.

LegaCarta deals exclusively with multilateral conventions. Bilateral and regional agreements are excluded from its scope. In general, the work of regional institutions is not covered by LegaCarta, with the exception of some important conventions, signed under the auspices of regional bodies, that are open to all countries for ratification or accession.

Date of entry into force

The date of entry into force is the date at which the contracting States are bound by the provisions of a convention.

Date of ratification

Generally the act of ratification is required for States to be bound by a convention. “Ratification, acceptance, approval and accession mean in each case the international act so named whereby a State establishes on the international plane its consent to be bound by a convention” (Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, article 2.1.b).

For each convention, LegaCarta provides lists of ratifying countries, updated at least twice a year. Two lists are available: one in alphabetical order, the other in chronological order. Although international organisations are sometimes party to multilateral conventions, LegaCarta only provides the list of ratifying States.

Date of signature

The date of signature refers to the date of adoption of a convention. LegaCarta does not provide the dates at which individual States have signed the adopted text. Such information, of less practical value, can be obtained from the depositary of each convention.


The depository is the convention’s custodian (one or more States, an international organisation or the chief administrative officer of the organization), which receives from each State the deposit of instruments of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession.

Model Law

A model law is a template intended for national lawmakers that can be used as a pattern for domestic legislation.

The United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) is the main provider of model trade laws. UNCITRAL model laws are generally accompanied by guides for their incorporation into national law.

When available (for example for most of UNCITRAL’s model laws) LegaCarta provides the list of countries having incorporated a specific model law into their national legislation.

Model laws listed in LegaCarta are identified by brackets […]

Multilateral Trade Rules (MTRs)

The term “multilateral trade rules” refers first of all to conventions (treaties) open to all States for ratification, approval or accession. The term multilateral trade rules also refers to some more flexible international legal instruments such as model laws and trade usages. Finally, under this heading and for technical assistance purposes, an “institutional participation” component is included as an indicator of the involvement of a State or its national business community in the work of institutions that define international trade rules.

Relevance of Multilateral Trade Rules

Multilateral trade rules are of varying importance to a country’s legal framework. Although it is impossible to make an assessment of the relevance of each multilateral trade rule instrument, LegaCarta has attempted to give “objective” indications in this regard, in response to the need for policymakers to set up their own priorities. Clearly, relevance indicators must be reviewed according to the specific needs, economic and geographical conditions, and priorities of each country.

Indications as to the relevance are based on several criteria, such as the number of ratifications of a convention, the impact of its provisions on international trade and the opinion of international legal experts and international bodies administering the relevant instruments.

Relevance indicators are as follows:
5   –   very important
3   –   important
1   –   less important
0   –   irrelevant or obsolete


LegaCarta does not contain any information on reservations that have been made by the ratifying States. Interested users are invited to refer to the depositary of a given convention for details on any reservation made.

Trade usages and practices

Codified trade usages are included in LegaCarta because of their practical impact on trade. The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) Incoterms and the UNIDROIT Principles of International Commercial Contracts are examples of internationally accepted trade usages. LegaCarta does not provide any list of countries where trade usages are used. Trade usages are not taken into account in the calculation of the average rate of ratification of multilateral trade instruments in a given country. Trade usages listed in LegaCarta are identified by brackets […]

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