Does the Office of Treaty Affairs Review Arrangements between U.S. States and Foreign Counterparts?

Yes. The Office of the Assistant Legal Adviser for Treaty Affairs receives frequent inquiries from both foreign governments and U.S. state governments regarding arrangements between U.S. states and foreign counterparts. In general, we assist these entities in developing appropriate language for these arrangements prior to their signature. The resulting texts are most often of a non-legally binding, political character. We also advise U.S. states and foreign governments of potential implications of the Compact Clause of the United States Constitution. In particular, Article 1, section 10, clause 1 of the Constitution provides that “[n]o State shall enter into any Treaty, Alliance or Confederation.” Article 1, section 10, clause 3 further provides that “[n]o State shall, without the Consent of Congress . . . enter into any Agreement or Compact with another State, or with a foreign Power . . . .”

The Office of Treaty Affairs is prepared to assist foreign, as well as state and local governments, on particular arrangements or agreements on a case-by-case basis. We also try to ensure that appropriate policy bureaus are aware of the proposed arrangement. State and local governments may wish to contact the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, which is an office within the State Department’s Bureau of Public Affairs (PA/IGA), for further assistance. That office’s phone number is 202-647-5171.

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