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Key Difference – Accession vs Ratification

Accession and ratification are two terms that are often used in the context of treaties and agreements. Both these terms signify the consent of a party to be bound by a treaty. However, there is a legal difference between accession and ratification. An accession is only a formal agreement and is not preceded by signing whereas ratification is a formal agreement which is preceded by signing. Therefore, this process of signing is the key difference between accession and ratification.

What Does Accession Mean?

Accession is an act by which a state signifies its agreement to be legally bound by the terms of a particular treaty. Here, the state accepts the opportunity or offer to become a party to a treaty that is already negotiated and signed by the other states. This usually occurs after the treaty has entered into force. Hence, accession is not preceded by an act of signature. However, accession has the same legal effect as ratification. The formal procedure involving accession varies based on the national legislative requirements of the State.Key Difference - Accession vs Ratification

What Does Ratification Mean?

Ratification is an act by which a state signifies an agreement to be legally bound by the terms of a particular treaty. The main difference between accession and ratification is the act of signature; ratification is always followed by an act of signature. The process of ratification involves the state first signing the treaty and then fulfilling its national legislative requirements.

Ratification is achieved in bilateral treaties through the exchange of obligatory instruments; in the case of multilateral treaties, the usual procedure involves collecting the ratification of all states by a depositary and keeping all the parties informed.

Difference Between Accession and Ratification

What is the difference between Accession and Ratification?

Act of Signature:

Accession is not preceded by a signature.

Ratification is preceded by a signature.

However, both accession and ratification have the same effect.


Accession is involved with treaties that are already in action.

Ratification implies that the state is interested in a treaty, but the treaty is still not in action.

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