Treaties and Alliances

Treaties and Alliances refer to the International relations between countries. It refers to the Foreign Policy to be followed in order to have good and beneficial relationship. India, as an independent sovereign country, continues to cooperate with its neighbours and distant countries. It is important to develop good neighbourly relations which are strengthened by entering into treaties and alliances.

Treaties are written agreements entered into between independent states and legally binding on each other. They are referred to by various names such as international agreements, international conventions, international treaty, international pact and international accord. Basically, there are two broad categories of treaties: bilateral and multilateral.

Bilateral treaties are those that are signed between any two independent countries where as multilateral treaties are signed between two or more countries. All treaties whether bilateral or multilateral are legally binding on the parties that have signed and accepted to be members to the treaty.

However, alliances are different. They are formed for mutual benefit or support is for security considerations. Alliances are not legally binding. Alliances are not for ever, they can change.

Examples of bilateral treaties are:

  • Indo - Sri Lanka Accord
  • Indus Water Treaty between India and Pakistan
  • India - Russia Friendship Treaty
  • India - U.S. Treaty on Nuclear Cooperation

Examples of Multilateral treaties are:

  • South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC)
  • Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)

World Organisations:

  • United Nations Organizations (UN)
  • World Trade Organizations (WTO)
  • World Bank (WB)


Multilateral treaties through multilateral cooperation are strategies that countries adopt to co-exist and cooperate with other countries with the aim of development. One such attempt, the first of its kind in South Asian Region, is the formation of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). The second was The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). ASEAN is an association of all 10 countries of SE Asia.


The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation is an economic and geo-political organization formed on 8 December 1985 in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh. It presently comprises 8 countries as members. They are: Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and India. Afghanistan became the eighth member of SAARC in 2007.

The basic objective of SAARC is to develop the welfare of the people of South Asian region through cooperation in economic, cultural, technical, scientific and all other common aspects including security. The region is caught in poverty and security problems. Hence, the idea of a multilateral cooperation at the regional level was initiated in order to solve such problems. Regular summit level meetings are held in various capital cities of member countries on rotation basis.

India has played a central role in SAARC. All countries of South Asia have been under the religious, cultural, economic, political influence of India. Hence India's role in this organization is important. However, even if these are welcome steps to cooperate to solve problems at the multilateral level you should understand that not all times they are successful. Sometimes political and security issues hinder the cooperation. For example, since partition, the hostility that Pakistan has shown towards India continues to be a hurdle in fully realizing the potential for better economic cooperation and development among member countries.


Southeast Asia is another close neighbourhood of India, which has also seen the religious, cultural and political influence of India for several centuries. Realizing the importance of this region and the need to strengthen economic power, India has now evolved a strategy to build close ties with countries of this region.

The policy originally was called 'look east policy' which, under the present government, has become "Act East Policy". The regional organization called the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) was formed on 8 August 1967 in Bangkok, Thailand. The founding members are Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand and Philippines. Today it includes all 10 countries of the region: Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar, Vietnam and Brunei.

The aim of this regional organization is to promote economic growth and provide regional peace and stability through cooperation. Although India is not a member of ASEAN, it has been a summit level partner since 2002 and now a strategic partner of ASEAN since 2012. India has also been building political, economic, and security cooperation with ASEAN countries and has set up a separate diplomatic mission for ASEAN.