An international treaty is an agreement or contract that is entered into by willing parties in the international community. In Canada, when an international treaty is signed, the country is declaring its support for the treaty. If Canada then chooses to ratify the treaty it becomes legally accountable to international authorities if the treaty is breached (Carasco 2007).
However, treaties do not automatically become part of Canadian law—they must be incorporated into federal legislation before treaty obligations can be met at the domestic level. If the treaty pertains to matters dealt with at the provincial level then the treaty must also be incorporated into provincial legislation. Some of the international treaties relevant to protecting the aquatic environment in the Athabasca Oil Sands region are: