Fidelis Munyoro Chief Court Reporter
Government has gazetted the International Treaties Bill, which seeks to provide uniform procedure for the approval of international treaties and subsequent ratification by the President. The Bill was published in a Government gazette yesterday.
It will also provide a mechanism for the publication or notification of such treaties.
This is aimed to ensure international treaties, including those having far-reaching consequences on the country’s domestic laws, are concluded only after the due notification of Parliament and the public.
The preamble to the Bill points to the re-alignment of the law on treaties with the national supreme law.
The Constitution provides that most international treaties require the approval of Parliament except those that include peace treaties, which are made within the prerogative powers in the sphere of international relations, among others.
In terms of clause 4 of the Bill, the Foreign Affairs Ministry will be the principal custodian and national depositary of all international treaties.
“It also obliges the ministry to open and maintain an official archive of all international treaties currently in force, access to which will be afforded to any interested person subject to such conditions, including the payment of any for access to the archive or the provision of authenticated copies of any international treaty,” reads the Bill.
The Bill provides for the appointment and functions of the Public Agreements Advisory Committee (PAAC), whose core function will be to consider all proposed international treaties and make appropriate recommendations regarding their negotiation, drafting and approval by the executive and legislature.
Though the committee already exists, clause 5 of the Bill will establish it on a statutory footing.
The most striking feature is clause 10, which obliges the court to take judicial notice of certain matters in connection with international treaties published in terms of the Bill.
However, the non-publication of an international treaty concluded before the date of commencement of this Bill, or the non-compliance with certain formalities preliminary to approval and ratification of an international treaty, does not invalidate that treaty.