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Explain Why and How Executive Agreements Are Made

Executive agreements are a form of international agreement that is made between the executive branch of the US government and a foreign government, without the need to obtain the consent of the US Senate. The use of executive agreements has been a topic of debate in recent years, with some arguing that they are an important tool for foreign policy, while others argue that they undermine the constitutional balance of power.

So, why and how are executive agreements made? Let’s explore these questions in more detail.

Why are Executive Agreements Made?

There are several reasons why the US government may choose to make an executive agreement instead of a treaty. One of the most common reasons is time. The treaty-making process can be lengthy and cumbersome, requiring the involvement of multiple branches of government. In contrast, executive agreements can be negotiated and executed much more quickly, allowing the US government to respond to rapidly changing international events.

Another reason why executive agreements are made is that they often do not require Senate ratification. This means that the US government can negotiate and execute agreements with other countries without having to seek approval from the Senate. This can be especially useful in situations where the Senate is unlikely to approve a treaty.

Finally, executive agreements can be used to address areas where the US government has limited constitutional authority. For example, the US government may not have the authority to regulate commerce with a particular country through a treaty. However, it may be able to make an executive agreement that addresses the same issues.

How are Executive Agreements Made?

The process for making an executive agreement can vary depending on the circumstances. In general, however, the process typically involves the following steps:

1. Negotiation: The US government negotiates the terms of the agreement with the foreign government.

2. Approval: The executive branch of the US government approves the agreement.

3. Signing: The agreement is signed by representatives of the US government and the foreign government.

4. Implementation: The agreement is implemented in accordance with its terms.

It is important to note that executive agreements do not have the same legal status as treaties. While treaties are considered to be the supreme law of the land under the US Constitution, executive agreements do not have this same status. This means that executive agreements can be superseded by subsequent laws or even by other executive agreements.


Executive agreements are an important tool for the US government when it comes to international relations. They provide a way to quickly and efficiently address pressing international issues, without the need for Senate ratification. At the same time, the use of executive agreements can be controversial, as they bypass the traditional treaty-making process and may undermine the constitutional balance of power. It will be interesting to see how the use of executive agreements evolves in the coming years, as the US government continues to navigate a rapidly changing international landscape.

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