Definitions of key terms

Term Definition
Accession: The act whereby a State and/or regional economic integration organization that has not signed the Convention expresses its consent to become a Party to the Convention after it enters into force. It has the same legal effect as ratification, acceptance or approval.
Amendment: An amendment refers to the formal alteration of provisions of a treaty by its Parties.
Consent to be bound:
A State or regional economic integration organization expresses its consent to be bound by the Convention, its amendments or protocols under international law by some formal act i.e. definitive signature, ratification, acceptance, approval or accession.
Convention: Synonymous with "treaty", term generally used for formal multilateral treaties with a broad number of Parties, usually negotiated under the auspices of an international organization.
Correction of the Convention is the remedying of an error in its text. The depositary must communicate the proposed corrections to all Parties and Signatories. In the practice of the United Nations, the Secretary-General, as depositary, informs all States of the error and the proposal to correct it. If, on the expiry of a specified time limit, no Party or Signatory objects, the Secretary-General circulates a procès-verbal of rectification and causes the corrections to be effected in the authentic text(s) ab initio. States have 90 days to object to a proposed correction. This period can be shortened if necessary.
Interpretative declaration:
An interpretative declaration is a declaration by a Party as to its understanding of some matter covered by the Convention or its interpretation of a particular provision. Unlike reservations, declarations merely clarify a Party’s position and do not claim to exclude or modify the legal effect of the Convention.
Optional declaration:
An optional declaration is a declaration that a treaty specifically provides for, but does not require. Unlike an interpretative declaration, an optional declaration is binding on the State making it.
Depositary notification (C.N.):
A formal notice that the Depositary of the Convention sends to all Member States, non-member States, the specialized agencies of the United Nations, and the relevant secretariats, organizations and UN offices. The notification provides information on the Convention, including actions undertaken.
All States and/or regional economic integration organizations linked to the Convention as Signatories or Parties.
States and/or regional economic integration organizations that have expressed their consent to be bound by the Convention by an act of ratification, acceptance, approval or formal confirmation.
A protocol has the same legal characteristics as a treaty. Generally, a protocol amends, supplements or clarifies a treaty. A protocol is normally open to participation by the Parties to the parent treaty.
Ratification, Acceptance, Approval:
Consent of a State and/or regional economic integration organization to become a Party and be bound by the Convention. Ratification, acceptance and approval all require 2 steps:
(a) Execution of an instrument of ratification, acceptance or approval by the Head of State, Head of Government or Minister for Foreign Affairs, expressing the intent of the State to be bound by the Convention; and
(b) Deposit of the instrument with the depositary.
A reservation is a statement made by a State or regional economic integration organization by which it declares the legal effect of certain provisions of a treaty are excluded or altered in their application to that State or organization. No reservations or exceptions may be made to the Stockholm Convention.
Definitive signature (signature not subject to ratification)
Where a State expresses its consent to be bound by signing the treaty without the need for ratification, acceptance or approval. A State may definitively sign a treaty only when the treaty so permits.
Simple signature (signature subject to ratification)
Simple signature applies to most multilateral treaties. This means that when a State signs the treaty, the signature is subject to ratification, acceptance or approval. The State has not expressed its consent to be bound by the treaty until it ratifies, accepts or approves it. In that case, a State that signs a treaty is obliged to refrain, in good faith, from acts that would defeat the object and purpose of the treaty. Signature alone does not impose on the State obligations under the Convention.
The adherence to the Convention of a new State where the predecessor State, whose territory has become the responsibility of the new State, was a party to the Convention.
Any instrument binding under international law, regardless of its formal designation, concluded between two or more international legal persons. Treaties may be concluded between:
(a)    States;
(b)    International organizations with treaty-making capacity and States; or
(c)    International organizations with treaty-making capacity.