The use of treaties between sovereign states is a centuries-long practice that has become formalised and codified over the years to form the complex system that characterises modern day international relations. Two sovereign states may negotiate bilateral agreements between them to establish the parameters of their relationship. International and regional organisations such as the United Nations and the Organisation of American States serve as fora in which multilateral treaties are negotiated. Multilateral treaties are agreements with three or more states parties and usually address issues of global or regional concern such as trade, the environment, human rights, disarmament and the conduct of combatants during war.
Barbados is a state party to a number of bilateral and multilateral treaties, having attained the right to enter into treaties upon achieving independence in 1966. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade acts as the depositary for treaties to which Barbados has formally committed itself through signature, accession or ratification. Barbados' policy regarding the ratification or accession of treaties closely reflects its foreign policy objectives. Thus, there is direct correlation between the issues to which Barbados ascribes importance and the treaties to which Barbados is party.