What are 'signatories'? and 'ratifications'?

Recently we received an inquiry from a reader asking about the difference between signing and ratification and why the number of ratification is fewer than signatures.

We have updated the latest number of signatories and ratifications on http://www.mercury-free.jp/convention/. As of December 2016, 128 countries are signatories to the Minamata Convention and 35 countries have ratified it.

Recently we received an inquiry from a reader asking about the difference between signing and ratification and why the number of ratifications is fewer than signatories.

A signatory is a country that has signed a treaty. Singing shows that the country approves of the treaty but it is non-binding. Ratification is a formal declaration of agreement to a treaty by the country.

In short, signing is a diplomatic issue and ratification is a political issue.

Regarding Japan and the Minamata Convention on Mercury, Japan signed the Minamata Convention on October 10th 2013. However, this was just the consent to the treaty as a country.

Next, the related ministries in Japan had to develop the system of laws which required approval by the Japanese parliament. This process required many negotiations. These negotiations were not only among ministries, but also with industries and affected groups.

Japan Parliament

After this long procedure, Japan finally ratified the Minamata Convention on Mercury February 2nd 2016.

So far the Minamata Convention on Mercury has been ratified by 35 countries and will enter into force after 50 countries have ratified it. After this, all of signatories must fulfill the arrangement and engagement of the Minamata Convention before 2020.