Although agreements between individuals often create legally binding commitments, instances may arise in which mutual promises yield no legally enforceable agreement. Sometimes called “gentlemen’s agreements,” parties may honor them because moral obligations compel observance or because future relations will be more difficult if the present arrangement is broken. International organizations likewise may depend on such informal arrangements so as to maintain comity among members.
Occasionally the enabling treaties that create an international organization will leave some procedural or voting matter unresolved. Rather than amend the formal document, which is usually a difficult task, an informal working agreement will develop to resolve a particular problem. As long as the consensus holds to honor the informal agreement, there is no need to embody it into a legal document.
West’s Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.