Treaties, States Parties and Commentaries
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Commentary of 2007 
Article 8 - Signature

Article 8 of Additional Protocol III is based on Articles 92 and 20 of 1977 Additional Protocols I and II respectively. Like those articles, it precedes a provision related to ratification and formally indicates that even though signature marks the end of negotiations and the authentication of a text that will not be subject to further modification, it is not intended to have a legally binding effect on the signatory party. [61]
It should be noted that the period for signature of Additional Protocol III was moved forward compared with the corresponding provisions of the two 1977 Additional Protocols, which provided for a waiting period of six months between signature of the Final Act and the opening for signature of the Additional Protocols. However, as stated in the Commentary on Additional Protocol I, "[t]he six month waiting period before the Protocol is open for signature is a rather exceptional feature: in general a treaty is open for signature from the moment it is adopted." [62] Indeed, this latter solution is the one adopted by Additional Protocol III. The argument most often used to justify the procedure established for the two 1977 Protocols – namely that the interval allowed time for domestic examination of the acceptability of such a complex treaty before opening it for signature – is not relevant in the current case.
The period provided under Article 8 for States to sign Additional Protocol III closed on 8 December 2006. At this closing date, 84 States had signed the instrument.


61. Article 14, paragraph 1, of the 1969 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties clearly indicates that "The consent of a State to be bound by a treaty is expressed by ratification when: (a) the treaty provides for such consent to be expressed by means of ratification". In this case, the legal effect of the signature is to recognize the negotiated text as authentic and final. The signature furthermore obliges the State to refrain from any acts which would defeat the object and purpose of the treaty, at least as long as the state has not made clear its intention not to become a party to the treaty (Article 18 of the Vienna Convention).

62. Commentary on Protocol I, ICRC, Geneva, 1987, p. 1069 (§ 3694).