Today in International Law: November 8th

By Harris Mateen

On November 8, 1968, the UN ECOSOC passed the passed the Vienna Convention of Road Traffic and the Vienna Convention of Road Signs and Signals.  These treaty intended to create a standardized system of rules and procedures to increase road safety between nations, making it easier to drive between different nations.

These treaties helped standardize important signs used internationally. The Convention codified the use of red-yellow-green traffic signals, octagonal stop signs, and handicapped parking panels.

Another important component of these treaties required cars to display clear symbols of their nations of origin. This has led to country codes and symbols being integrated into license plates. However, remnants of this original rule can be seen o many Swiss cars which display an oval with CH—for Confederation Helvetica—on their back bumpers.

Several major nations including the United States, Canada, Australia, and China did not sign the treaty. This makes sense considering that the size of these nations makes driving into the countries from abroad more difficult than for many of the signatory nations.