Guide to Treaty Research
Last Updated September 2013
Introduction to Treaty Research
The Diamond Law Library is a great place to find the text of treaties. We have access to all of the resources described in this guide, and many others not mentioned. But even with the right tools, treaty research can be quite difficult and time consuming. This is especially true if you do not have a good understanding of treaties and how they are formed.
A treaty (sometimes called a convention, covenant, protocol, charter, pact, etc.) is an agreement between two or more nations or international organizations. It may be bilateral (between two countries), or multilateral (between three or more countries). The treaty text may provide for the manner by which it takes effect. Often, the agreement will enter into force when it has been signed and ratified by a certain number of parties. Unless restricted by the terms of the treaty, parties may ratify a treaty with reservations or other declarations. A reservation is a country's attempt to modify certain terms of the agreement, as between itself and other countries.
The Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties sets forth the law relating to treaties and is useful in understanding how treaties are made and other fundamental concepts. The text of this treaty is available at the website of the International Law Commission. For more information on the Vienna Convention and the treaty making process, see the following sources:
- Anthony Aust, Modern Treaty Law and Practice, 2nd Edition (2007). 4th Floor, KZ1301 .A93 2007.
- McNair, Arnold Duncan, The Law of Treaties (1961). Offsite storage, KZ631 .M36 1961.
- Rosenne, Shabtai, The Law of Treaties; A Guide to the Legislative History of the Vienna Convention (1970). 2nd Floor, JX 4160 .R724.
- Sinclair, I. M., The Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties (1984). 2nd Floor, JX 4160 Si6 1984.
For more information on the treaty making process at a national level, see the following source:
National Treaty Law and Practice
Three volumes of this title were published as part of the series, Studies in Transnational Legal Policy, together covering the treaty practice and procedure of 18 countries. Each section was written by experts from the countries. Also available electronically via HeinOnline, via the series title.
- National Treaty Law and Practice: France, Germany, India, Switzerland, Thailand, United Kingdom (1995). 2nd Floor, JX 4171.T4 N213 1995.
- National Treaty Law and Practice: Austria, Chile, Colombia, Japan, the Netherlands, United States (1999). 2nd Floor, JX 4160 N213 1999.
- National Treaty Law and Practice: Canada, Egypt, Israel, Mexico, Russia, South Africa (2003). 2nd Floor, JX 4171.T7 N213 2003.
For expanded guidance on researching historical treaties both in print and online, please see the Diamond Law Library's supplementary Guide to Researching Historical Treaties.
When the United States is a Party
Pursuant to Article II, Section 2 of the United States Constitution, treaty-making power lies with the President, with consent of the Senate. That means that the President (usually the President's representatives) negotiates, drafts, and signs all treaties. Until the Senate consents, however, the signed treaty has no force. The President may choose to submit the treaty to the Senate immediately, or wait until there is a greater likelihood of obtaining the necessary two-thirds vote. Many treaties signed by the United States have never been ratified, not because Senate rejected them, but because they were withdrawn from the Senate or never submitted by the President. If the Senate approves, the treaty is officially ratified and proclaimed by the President. Note that "executive agreements" (which are less formal than treaties) may be concluded by the President without consent of the Senate, under his constitutional authority to conduct foreign affairs. For further information, see Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress, Treaties and Other International Agreements: The Role of the United States Senate(Comm. Print 1993), 4th Floor, KF 4989 .A25 1993.
Services such as Lexis, Westlaw, HeinOnline, and TIARA can be extremely useful in several situations. First, if you do not need an official source, databases offer quick access to the treaty texts. Second, if you are collecting sources for a law review article, or an official treaty version, electronic resources can be efficient ways to find citations. Third, you may need to search online to find the text of treaties not yet available in print. Note that none of these databases currently includes UST pagination.
- HeinOnline started with law journals, but in early 2004 added a formidable array of treaty sources in PDF format. Bevans, UST, and TIAS (all described below) are reproduced in full. Hein's own KAV series (also described below) is also included, and may be useful for treaties not yet printed in UST or TIAS. Of particular interest is the powerful search mechanism which effectively incorporates and utilizes Hein's United States Treaty Index (described below). Searchable fields in the Treaties and Agreements library include title, parties, date, and subject; fulltext searching is also available.
U.S. Treaties on LEXIS (USTRTY).
- This database is enormous in scope with over 13,000 fulltext documents. Lexis claims two important improvements over TIARA. First, it has broader coverage of historical, unratified treaties. Second, it is more frequently updated, and has more current information. All documents are obtained through official government sources, such as the State Department, the U.S. Senate, and publications like UST, TIAS, and Bevans. Like TIARA, it allows for various searching options. This database has several relatively short gaps in coverage, so there's a chance you might not find existing documents.
TIARA U.S. Treaties Researcher.
- TIARA, a commercial service published by Oceana, features the text of over 12,000 treaties ratified by the U.S. from 1783 to present. You can search in indexed fields (country, date, location, subject, etc.) and in full-text. TIARA is a great place to go for unofficial treaty texts, and for parallel citations. Note that only one user can access TIARA at a time, so if someone else is logged on (or has forgotten to log off!), you will need to wait or try something else.
U.S. Treaties on Westlaw (USTREATIES).
- Includes coverage of international treaties beginning with volume 8 of Statutes at Large (1778) through volume 64 (1949) when United States Treaties and Other International Agreements (UST) became the official publication. Also includes TIAS (1979 to present), Senate Treaty Documents (1993 to present), and State Department Documents (1989 to present). Doesn't have the coverage of TIARA or Lexis, but this is a good source for recent treaties and related documents.
Treaty Affairs Office, U.S. State Department.
- This site includes several U.S. treaty publications, including Treaties in Force, TIAS and Treaty Actions (see descriptions below).
Private International Law, U.S. State Department Office of the Assistant Legal Advisor for Private International Law.
- This site includes links to the text of many U.S. treaties in force or under consideration. Subject areas include trade / business transactions law, family law, judicial assistance, and wills, trusts and estates.
If the treaty is in force, use Treaties In Force; a List of Treaties and Other International Agreements of The United States (3rd Floor Reference, KZ235 .T74); or Kavass, A Guide to the United States Treaties in Force (4th Floor, KZ235 .G85 or in Hein Online). If it is out of force, try United States Treaty Index (4th Floor, KZ235 .U58 1991), HeinOnline, TIARA, Lexis, or Westlaw.
Treaties in Force, 3rd Floor Reference, KZ235 .T74.
- Published annually by the State Department, this is the official index to treaties in force. It is also the foundation upon which Kavass' Guide to the United States Treaties in Force (see below) is built. It has a single volume, comprised of two lists. The first is for bilateral agreements, and is organized by country. The second is for multilateral agreements, and is arranged by subject. There is no subject index for bilateral treaties. (Also available on the State Department website, on Lexis (INTLAW;USTIF), on Westlaw (USTIF) and on HeinOnline).
Multilateral Treaties for which the United States is Depositary, Available on the Department of State's Website.
- The United States is depositary for over 200 multilateral treaties. This website lists these treaties and includes status lists if available.
A Guide to the United States Treaties in Force, 4th Floor, KZ235 .G85 or in Hein Online
- Published annually by William S. Hein & Co., this three-volume set is an expanded version of Treaties in Force (discussed above). The most recent version is in reference office, and previous editions (back to 1984) are on the 2nd floor. Also available electronically through HeinOnline. The guide includes various finding aids, including:
- By Citation (Numerical List): If you have a citation, and want a very brief account of the treaty's subject and signatories, look in Book One. Also a great place to find parallel cites to other treaty sets.
- By Country: Alphabetical list of countries with which the United States has a current treaty. Note that there are separate lists for bilateral, and multilateral treaties, so if you're not sure, you'll have to look in both places. For each country, there is a brief subject heading (e.g., postal matters, cultural relations, etc.) and a list of citations.
- By Subject: Within each broad subject category, this list is subdivided by country. Agreement descriptions are noted chronologically, and include place and date of signing, date of entry into force, parallel citations, and cross-references to related instruments.
United States Treaty Index, 4th Floor, KZ235 .U58 1991
- Also published by Hein, this comprehensive tool covers U.S. treaties from 1776 to present, whether ratified or not. Most volumes are revised through 1995, but there is a consolidated, bound supplement. You can access the set by treaty number, subject, country, title, and date. The first five volumes contain the "master guide," organized by treaty number. For each treaty in this section, you will learn if there are parallel citations, when and where it was signed, when it entered into force, and subsequent activity. It does not tell you whether the treaty is currently in force (see Treaties in Force). The other indexes only provide enough information to lead you back to the Master Guide.
Current Treaty Index, 4th Floor, KZ235 .U58 1991 or on Hein Online.
- The Current Treaty Index is a looseleaf service (revised twice a year) that exists as a companion to the United States Treaty Index. Because it is less than a year out of date, it can be especially useful for finding information about recent U.S. treaties. You can search by cite, country, date, or subject.
Pending / Recent Treaties
Recent U.S. treaties generally do not find their way into print for a year or more. There are, however, sources available that either provide full-text or status updates. Many of these are electronic. For example, Westlaw and Lexis (described above) tend to upload treaty documents relatively quickly. Another option is to search the web site of the Federal agencies affected by the subject matter of the treaty you're seeking. For instance, try the Commerce Department or U.S. Trade Representative's pages for commercial or free trade agreements (see Part 3 below). For recent U.S. agreements not available elsewhere, it may be possible to get assistance from the Treaty Affairs staff in the Legal Advisor's Office of the U.S. State Department (by phone at 202-647-1345, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org). The following are some other options.
Congressional Index, Reference, P C7612.
- Recent editions in reference, earlier in cellar. The Congressional Index includes a "Treaties - Nominations" section that summarizes treaty documents, and provides citations to Senate Executive Reports when available. This section also includes a subject index. Published by CCH, the Congressional Index is regularly supplemented, and is currently less than one month out of date.
U.S. Senate, Legislative Activities, Treaties.
- This site lists all treaties received, under consideration, or approved by the Senate during the current session of Congress.
- The apparent successor to Dispatch (see below), this internet resource provides a chronological listing of recent U.S. treaty activity. Links to archived treaty actions beginning in 1997.
- In this database from the Library of Congress, you can search for recent treaty actions by word, number, congress or type.
U.S. Department of State Dispatch, Reserve and Microfiche - JX232 Un311.
- Published from 1990 - 1999, Dispatch contained status information on U.S. treaty actions, including date and place of signing, and ratification date. Continues the Department of State Bulletin. Back issues from 1993 - 1999 are also availableon the State Department website.
GPO's Federal Digital System (FDsys) - Senate, House, and Treaty Documents.
- Here, you can try full-text searches for treaties sent to the Senate.
Congressional Record Online, available via Lexis (GENFED;RECORD), Westlaw (CR), Congressional Universe, ,and GPO's Federal Digital System (FDsys).
- The Congressional Record is an excellent resource for finding out what activity, if any, the Senate has taken with respect to treaties signed, but not yet ratified, by the United States. Search by the name of the convention, and often you will find floor statements that shed some light.
Treaties in Print: Current
Treaties and Other International Acts Series (TIAS), 2nd Floor, JX235.9 A4.
- This is the first place where ratified U.S. treaties and executive agreements are officially published. Note that the treaties often include both English and the language of the other party or parties. They arrive in individually paginated pamphlets, and are kept on reserve. Originally they were consecutively numbered. Since 2002, they are numbered using their in force date, so a document with the number 02-306 came into force on March 6, 2002. Periodically these are bound and moved to the 2nd floor. TIAS is approximately five years out of date. According to the bluebook, cite only to TIAS when the treaty has not yet been printed in UST. (rule 20.4.5). Available electronically through HeinOnline. The State Department also publishes some years of TIAS on their website.
United States Treaties and Other International Agreements (UST), Volumes in HeinOnline in offsite storage, JX 235.9 A5.
- This set is virtually the same as TIAS, except it comes out irregularly in annual, pre-bound chunks. UST is terribly out of date - often more than 15 years ago. According to the bluebook, however, researchers should cite to UST whenever possible (rule 20.4.5(a)(i)). When there are more than two parties, cite to UST and an inter-governmental source such as UNTS (rule 20.4.5(a)(ii)). Available electronically through HeinOnline.
- Effective October 10, 2006, the State Departmentupdated regulations regarding implementation of 1 U.S.C. 112(a) and 112(b). According to the final rule available at 71 Fed. Reg. 53007-53009,the State Department will no longer publish certain categories of international agreements in TIAS and UST. How this will effect the already woefully out-of-date publishing schedule of these official U.S. treaty series remains to be seen.
Treaty Documents, and Executive Documents, 2nd Floor, JX 231 SE54.
- After signing, treaties are referred by the president to the Senate for ratification. All treaties and conventions submitted to the Senate for consideration, whether or not they ever go into force, are published individually as Treaty Documents. (The predecessor, Executive Documents, published selected treaties from 1921 until 1980). From 1981 (97th Congress) to 1992 (102nd Congress), Treaty Documents were bound in annual installments. Starting in 1993 (103rd Congress), however, each treaty document has been individually bound and cataloged. Starting with the 104th Congress, Treaty Documents are available on GPO's Federal Digital System (FDsys).
Senate Executive Reports, 2nd Floor, JX 231 SE55, and 2nd Floor Microfiche (Cabinet 8), JK 1158 S46 1987.
- Treaties presented to the Senate are referred to the Foreign Relations Committee. After a time, the committee may vote favorably on the treaty, thereby passing it to the full Senate for consideration. When it does so, it issues a report which includes the full text of the treaty plus recommended reservations. These reports do not always become part of the Serial Set. The microfiche set covers the 15th through 91st Congresses (1817 - 1969). Starting with the 104th Congress, Executive Reports are available on GPO's Federal Digital System (FDsys).
Hein's United States Treaties and Other International Agreements (KAV), 2nd Floor Microfiche (Cabinet 49), JX1 Un349.
- You may run across KAV numbers during treaty research, especially when using other Kavass products like Guide to the United States Treaties in Force, or the Current Treaty Index. KAV is a citation to the Hein microfiche set which is generally used as a source for current treaties. Note that Hein issues KAV numbers even for treaties it does not have on hand -- consequently the fiche set has some gaps. Cite to KAV only when TIAS is not yet available. Available electronically through HeinOnline.
Consolidated Treaties & International Agreements (CTIA), 4th Floor, KZ235.5 .U55.
- Conceived as a current document service when it began in 1991, CTIA continues to publish both ratified and not-yet-ratified U.S. treaties and executive agreements, in numerical order. It is issued quarterly by Oceana, and generally stays current to within a year or so. Documents are published in CTIA before the government issues TIAS numbers, so you won't have access that way. If you know when the treaty you are interested in was signed, or you have a state department or treaty document number, this is a fast resource.
Treaties in Print: Historic
For expanded guidance on researching historical treaties both in print and online, please see the Diamond Law Library's supplementary Guide to Researching Historical Treaties.
United States Statutes at Large (STAT), 4th Floor, S A.2.
- Before 1950, Statutes at Large was the official source for treaties. Volumes 7 and 8 include all treaties from 1776-1845 -both of these volumes are available electronically through the Library of Congress American Memory Project. From then on, treaties were published by session. With the inception of UST in 1950, Statutes at Large ceased publication of treaties. These volumes of Statutes at Large are also available in PDF format via HeinOnline, Lexis (LEGIS;STATLG) and Westlaw (US-STATLRG). Hein's handy browse feature allows researchers to view those agreements published in Statutes at Large by tribe name for "Indian Treatues" and by country name for "Other Treaties."
Treaties and Other International Agreements of the 1776-1949 (Bevans), Offsite storage, JX236 1968.
- This set replaces two earlier compilations (Malloy and Miller - see below) by reprinting all pre-UST, United States treaties. The first four volumes contain multilateral treaties in chronological order. Volumes 5-12 include bilateral treaties arranged by country. The index appears in volume 13. Available electronically through HeinOnline.
Treaties, Conventions, International Acts, Protocols, and Agreements Between the and Other Powers (Malloy), Offsite storage, JX 236 1910.
- Superseded by Bevans. Contains the text of treaties, in English, from 1776-1923. Includes indexes in volume 4, and parallel citations to Statutes at Large and Treaty Series throughout. Available electronically through HeinOnline.
Treaties and Other International Acts of the (Miller), Offsite storage, JX236 1931.
- Superseded by Bevans. Covering treaties from 1776-1836, this set includes both English and other languages. For each treaty reprinted, there are parallel citations to Statutes at Large, and Treaty Series. Available electronically through HeinOnline.
Treaty Series (TS), 2nd Floor, JX 235.9 A2.
- Covered U.S. treaties from 1913 (no. 578) to 1945 (no. 994), and included executive agreements until 1930. These individually numbered agreements were originally published as pamphlets, then bound. Ended in 1945 when TIAS began.
Executive Agreement Series (EAS), 2nd Floor, JX 235.9 A3.
- Another predecessor of TIAS, the EAS published individually numbered executive agreements from 1930 (no. 1) to 1945 (no. 506).
Unperfected Treaties of the United States of America, 2nd Floor, Intl Law Finding Aids, JX 236 1976.
- This nine volume set contains the texts of treaties that were signed between 1784 and 1975, but never ratified. All are in English, and some include the language of the other party.
When the United States May Not Be a Party
Researching treaties to which the United States may not be a party can be a challenge. Multilateral treaties are usually the easiest, as they are published in sets like the United Nations Treaty Series (UNTS), and on various web sites. Of course, only those treaties deposited with the UN Secretary General will become part of the UNTS. Although most multilateral (and many bilateral) treaties are deposited with the UN, states are under no obligation. For more information on the role of the UN as a treaty depository, see the Summary of Practice of the Secretary-General as Depository of Multilateral Treaties on the UN website, or consult the Treaty Handbook, 2nd Floor, JX 1976 A49 V T712 2001 - both were written by the Treaty Section of the U.N. Office of Legal Affairs. To contact the U.N. Office of Legal Affairs, Treaty Section, call (212) 963-2523 or email them at email@example.com.
Bilateral, obscure, or historic instruments are frequently more difficult. These agreements are often published only in the treaty series' or gazettes of the parties, or in commercially-produced, topical compilations. Before beginning to search, gather your information. What parties were definitely involved? When was the treaty signed? What was the subject matter? Is it in force? Whether you're seeking multilateral or bilateral treaties, the answers to these questions can streamline the process significantly.
Databases - Multilateral Treaties
United Nations Treaty Collection.
- This resource is useful both for finding citations, and for retrieving treaty text when you already have one. It includes the texts of several publications, including Multilateral Treaties Deposited with the Secretary General and the United Nations Treaty Series. Including over 40,000 bilateral and multilateral treaties, the UN Treaty Series online is a vast and powerful tool. It allows searching by party, date, subject, popular name, type of agreement, and full text. The texts are provided as scanned images, rather than html, meaning that they are as "official" as the UNTS print series.
Hein's United Nations Law Collection.
- This excellent database includes numerous UN legal titles, including the United Nations Treaty Series and Multilateral Treaties Deposited with the Secretary General. Searching options are better in this commercial database than in the UN's official database.
Fletcher Multilaterals Project, Tufts University.
- Includes well over 200 multilateral treaties and related instruments. Documents are divided into subject categories, such as human rights, trade and commercial relations, marine and coastal, and diplomatic relations. This site also allows full-text searching of all available treaties.
Treaty Indexes - Multilateral Treaties
Multilateral Treaties Deposited with the Secretary General, 3rd Floor Reference, 2nd Floor, JX 1976 .A49 V M911 (for older volumes; for newer volumes see online).
- Designed to give the status of multilateral treaties deposited with the United Nations (or League of Nations). For every treaty, there is a procedural history, cite to the UNTS or other sets, list of participants, dates of signature and ratification, and full text of each country's declarations and reservations. Also available (and frequently updated) onlineat The United Nations Treaty Collection.
Multilateral Treaty Calendar, Reference Drawer, KZ118 .W55 1998 .
- This large volume lists basic information about multilateral treaties that were signed between 1648 and 1995. It is arranged in chronological order, making it a fantastic resource if you happen to know when the treaty was signed. It provides citations to many of the sets we own at the Diamond Law Library.
Multilateral Treaties: Index and Current Status (Bowman & Harris), 3rd Floor Reference, KZ118 .B69 1984 (1984 & 1994 Supp.).
- Like the Multilateral Treaty Calendar, Bowman & Harris is arranged chronologically. It provides basic information on multilateral treaties, beginning in 1856. It includes citations to many different sources, and brief subject and keyword indexes. Bowman & Harris is no longer supplemented.
Treaty Indexes - Bilateral / Multilateral Treaties
World Treaty Index, 2nd Floor Intl Law Finding Aids, JX 171 .R631 1983.
- This five volume set attempts to index all treaties signed worldwide from 1900-1980. The treaties are summarized in chronological order. Each summary contains good, basic information, including parties, dates of signing / ratification, and citations to UNTS or LTS if therein. Volumes 4 and 5 index treaties by party and keyword, respectively. Unfortunately, the World Treaty Index has not been supplemented since the 2nd edition was published in 1980.
United Nations Treaty Series (UNTS), 2nd Floor, Offsite storage, JX 1976 .A21 T71.
- Over 2,000 volumes covering roughly 35,000 treaties registered, or filed and recorded with the UN. Contains treaty texts in the original languages, as well as English translations. A series of indexes is located at the end of the set. Each index volume covers a range of the UNTS, and allows searching by date, subject, and country. Also available online in Hein Online's United Nations Law Collection and at the United Nations Treaty Collection.
League of Nations Treaty Series (LTS), Offsite storage, JX 1975 .A1 Of21.
- This set published bilateral and multilateral treaties deposited with the League of Nations. Most appear in English and French. The series is composed of 205 volumes, plus a nine volume general index. Available on Hein Online's United Nations Treaty Collection.
Consolidated Treaty Series (CTS), 2nd Floor, JX 120 .P35.
- CTS spans 231 volumes, and reprints all available treaties signed between 1648 and 1919 (when the League of Nations Treaty Series began). All texts are in their original languages, with English and French translations whenever possible. Parallel citations are included, as are annotations to show later treaty modifications or terminations. The set is indexed by date and party, but not by subject.
International Legal Materials (ILM), 3d Floor Reserve, Offsite, JX 60 .In8.
- Published since 1962, ILM is dedicated to disseminating current international documentation. Treaties are published frequently, often as exact reproductions of the original documents. Some of the reprinted treaties are drafts, or signed but not yet ratified versions. Cumulative index volumes can be found at the end of the series, but are out of date. ILM is available on both Lexis (INTLAW;ILM) and Westlaw (ILM). Also available on Hein Online.
Organization of American States Treaty Series (OEA), 2nd Floor, JX 1980 .A6 T71.
- A collection of roughly 70 treaties approved within the framework of the Organization of American States, also available online. The web version allows searching by subject and within the text of agreements.
European Treaty Series (ETS), 3d Floor Reserve, 4th Floor, KJE109.2 .C68.
- Treaties concluded within the Council of Europe are published in this set, formally known as European Conventions and Agreements. (We also bind advance sheets - these are located at JX 1980 .Eu1 T71). Documents are not in force until ratified by individual nations. The Council's web site has advanced searching, updated information on ratification and reservations, and the text of most treaties in the series.
International Legislation, Offsite storage, JX 60 .H864.
- A collection of multilateral treaties concluded from 1919 to 1945. There is some overlap with League of Nations Treaty Series and British and Foreign State Papers, but this set also includes treaties that never entered into force. Available on Hein Online.
When You Know One of the Parties
If you know one of the countries involved in a treaty, then try its individual treaty series. This is an especially good strategy for bilateral treaties, as these are less likely to become a part of the UN Treaty Series. Selected, commonly used resources are mentioned below.
For a more comprehensive list of country-specific, treaty materials, try using subject headings (e.g., "Dominican Republic - Foreign Relations - Treaties") in Pegasus. The U. N. publication, List of Treaty Collections (1956), 2nd Fl Intl Law Finding Aids & 2nd Floor, JX 1976 .A49 V T72, provides a helpful list of titles of national treaty collections as of 1956. Also, the Columbia Law School Library Foreign Law Research Guides may be helpful when pursuing foreign resources for treaties.
Treaty Series, 2nd Floor, JX 1166 1975.
- We have 1975 to present, though currently the series runs about four years out of date. A more comprehensive source for Australian treaties is AustLII (Australasian Legal Information Institute), which has a vast database freely available on the web.
Treaty Series, 2nd Floor, JX 356 1929.
- Beginning in 1929, this series includes all of Canada's treaties in English and French.
Canadian Treaty Calendar (1928-1978); Index to Canadian Treaties (1979-2003), 2nd Floor, JX 357 1983, JX 356 2003.
- Lists all Canadian treaties from 1928-2003, with citations to the Canadian Treaty Series. The Canadian Treaty Calendar, covering 1928-1978, also contains lists of bilateral treaties by country, and multilateral treaties by subject. Both are well-indexed.
European Union / European Communities
- Selected EU agreements are posted on this web portal.
EU Treaties on Westlaw (EU-TREATIES) / EC Treaties on Lexis (INTLAW;ECTY).
- Both of these databases include treaties relating to the formation or composition of the EU, and concluded between member states.
Encyclopedia of European Union Law: Constitutional Texts, 4th Floor, KJE4442.3 .E52 .
- Most of this six volume looseleaf set is devoted to treaties. The European Union treaties are reproduced, along with amendments and acts of accession. In addition, "marginal" agreements which have some relation to the EU are included.
Collection of the Agreements Concluded by the European Communities, 2nd Floor, JX 1984 .E1 C73.
- This 12 volume set contains the treaties of the European Economic Community (EEC), the European Atomic Energy Community (Eurotom), and the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), from 1958 to 1982. Mostly these are bilateral, commercial agreements between the EEC and non-member countries or other international organizations.
Journal Officiel de la République Française, 2nd Floor - Microfiche, Cabinet 47.
- This French gazette includes the texts of treaties. The Journal Officiel (from 1990) and a separate database of selected French treaties are also on the web at Legifrance.
Bundesgesetzblatt, Cellar, Ger 110 A.
- The Bundesgesetzblatt is divided into Teil I (for domestic legislation) and Teil II (for ratified treaties). The index to Teil II is the Fundstellennachweis B, 4th floor, at KZ695 .F863.
Treaty Series, Offsite storage, JX 636 1892.
- Begins in 1892, and is currently less than one year out of date. Recently received treaties are on reserve. Some volumes include multi-year indexes.
British and Foreign State Papers, 2nd Floor, JX60 .G7.
- Includes treaties, statements, and various diplomatic exchanges from 1812 to 1968. Each volume has an index, but there are periodic multi-year indexes as well.
Hertslet's Commercial Treaties, Offsite storage, JX 636 1827.
- A collection of mostly commercial treaties and related materials. The 31 volumes reprint documents that were created between 1354 to 1910. Indexes in volumes 22 and 31. Also available via HeinOnline.
Subject-Specific Treaty Research
Manual on International Humanitarian Law and Arms Control Agreements, 2nd Floor, JX 1974 .M319 2000.
- This helpful compilation includes 84 arms control treaties concluded between 1863 and 2000.
Bureau of Arms Control, U.S. Department of State.
- This State Department website contains a collection of arms control treaties to which the United States is a party.
Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs)
Investment Promotion and Protection Treaties, 4th Floor, K1112 .I581.
- This is the first place to look for BITs. The source is a seven volume looseleaf service containing the text of every BIT in chronological order. Most treaties are in English, but some are only in another language. The back of the last volume has indexes by country, and date.
Foreign Trade Information System (SICE), Organization of American States.
- This site features the full text of well over 100 BITs concluded between nations in North, South, or Central America. Most agreements are in Spanish, many in English, and some in French.
International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (World Bank Group).
- This World Bank website is a useful resource, and the first place to start online if you're looking for basic information about particular investment treaties. The site contains a directory (no full text) of BITs signed between 1959 and 2007. There is a chronological list of BITs, an alphabetical list of signatories, including the treaties which that State has concluded, and a bibliography of articles and books on the subject of BITs. There is also an excellent bibliography of articles about BITs under the "Publications" menu option.
Bilateral Investment and Related Treaties, U.S. Department of State.
- Links to a database of U.S. BITs in force, and a comprehensive list of U.S. BITs (as of July 2003) with dates of signature and entry into force. Many are offered as html or .pdf documents.
Commercial / Trade Agreements
Trade Agreements Database, Trade Compliance Center, U.S. Department of Commerce.
- This U.S. government database includes most of the active, binding, agreements relating to manufactured products and services, between the United States and other countries. Agreements are searchable by industry, subject, and country.
Customs Law and Administration, 4 th Floor, KF 6694 .S8 1982.
- This set is divided into three segments: commentary, statutes, and treaties. The treaties portion encompasses three looseleaf binders, and includes agreements relating to the importation of goods to the United States, and the exportation of goods to foreign countries.
Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR).
- Potentially a fantastic resource, the USTR page includes the texts of many trade-related agreements in .pdf format. It is frequently updated to include recent treaty actions. Find agreements by region or subject. A good resource for WTO and NAFTA information.
Foreign Trade Information System (SICE), Organization of American States.
- This site maintains what appears to be an exhaustive database of multilateral and bilateral trade agreements concluded between countries in North, South, and Central America. Most are in Spanish, many in English, some in French.
North American Free Trade Agreements, 4th Floor, KDZ944.A35 N67.
- This six volume looseleaf set focuses on NAFTA and related documents. It also includes other commercial treaties between the United States, Canada, and Mexico, and the North American Industry Classification System.
World Trade Organization.
- The 1986-1994 Uruguay round of trade negotiations resulted in the establishment of the WTO, as well as the completion of nearly 60 multilateral agreements, decisions, or understandings. All of these fall into the broad categories of goods, services, intellectual property, and dispute resolution. The agreements are downloadable in both .pdf and wordperfect formats.
Basic Documents of International Economic Law, Reserve, JX 6271 .B2918.
- Although the treaties included in this two volume set are available elsewhere, this remains a convenient resource for significant commercial treaties. Also available on Lexis (INTLAW;BDIEL) and Westlaw (IEL).
- This website contains selected trade treaties in full text (html version only) and summaries of various international conventions, model laws, as well as standards and customs of international trade with the list of ratifications and adhesions.
- This website is dedicated to the provision of information on international commercial law with subsidiary interests in commerce and (mostly open standard) Net and information technologies that may be of interest to law academics and professionals worldwide. It maintains a selected collection of commercial law-related treaties in html format dating from the 1800s to the 2000s.
The following web sites are comprehensive enough to get you started in your search for an environmental law treaty. But individual treaties or agreements may be scattered in other reliable print or internet resources. If you are looking for the Convention on the Law of the Sea, for example, you can find it on the web site for the UN Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea, or in various books on the subject. Your search engine of choice should help in finding web sites, and Pegasus can do the same for books.
Environmental Treaties and Resource Indicators (ENTRI).
- Funded by NASA, and operated by Columbia's Center for International Earth Science Information Network, ENTRI holds the texts of hundreds of environmental treaties. The agreements are accessible by date, country, subject, and keyword searches. Other useful features include dates that treaties went into force, lists of treaties in force for each nation, and a list of treaties showing signatory nations for each.
United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP).
- This site contains text of various significant environmental conventions. It is unclear how often it is updated, however, so you may not find recent material here.
Because interest in international human rights instruments has become so great, many excellent resources have been established.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
- This extraordinarily useful web site compiles virtually all human rights-related treaties. Organized by subject matter.
University of Minnesota Human Rights Library.
- An equally impressive collection of links to human rights related treaties, this site also provides full-text search capabilities for the treaties, or other related documents. Another search engine allows for searching across multiple human rights web sites, including the United Nations, European Court of Human Rights, Amnesty International, and many others.
International Committee of the Red Cross.
- This organization’s website maintains an International Humanitarian Law Treaties database containing a selected collection 100 treaties and other texts in html format. The selection includes treaties pertaining to the law protecting the victims of war and law governing the conduct of hostilities, from 1856 to the present. The treaties are set out both in the form of their full text and of their individual articles. They are arranged according to subject and in chronological order.
International Human Rights Instruments, Reference, JX 4263 .P3 In958.
- A single volume looseleaf service with roughly 50 human rights treaties (and other instruments) thought to hold special interest for the United States.
World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).
- An agency of the UN, WIPO administers over 20 intellectual property-related treaties. These can be found on this site in .pdf format, and are subdivided into three categories: intellectual property protection, global protection system, and classification.
Intellectual Property Laws and Treaties, Cellar, JX 1 .In874.
- Covering seven binders and three different titles, this periodical is powerful, but also confusing and difficult to use. Two binders are labeled Copyright and Neighboring Rights Laws and Treaties. The remaining five, covering all other aspects of intellectual property, are called Industrial Property Laws and Treaties. Each set begins with the national intellectual property laws of each country, then continues with multilateral and bilateral treaties. Cumulative indexes for each are available at the end of the last volumes.
United States is a Party
U.S. International Taxation and Tax Treaties (Matthew Bender), 4th Floor, KF6306 .R48.
- Six volume looseleaf service with current treaties and related information. The first two volumes address taxation of Americans operating abroad. Volume 3 begins with an analysis of U.S. tax treaties. The treaties themselves are arranged by country, and run from the middle of volume 3 through volume 6. Volume 6 concludes with the text of model tax treaties. Also available on Lexis (INTLAW;INTTXT).
Tax Treaties (CCH), 4th Floor, KF 6306 .U54 1952.
- Eerily similar to Matthew Bender set, Tax Treaties is a 4 volume looseleaf service featuring U.S. tax treaties. Volume 1 has both IRS materials (including forms, publications, and regulations), and a number of model tax treaties. Volumes 2 and 3 feature the treaties along with analysis, divided by country. Volume 4 includes social security agreements, and a "new developments" newsletter.
RIA International Tax Treaties and Explanations, available on Westlaw (RIA-TREATIES).
- Another database containing the full text of tax treaties between the United States and other countries, along with explanations and commentary.
Income Tax Treaties, Internal Revenue Service.
- This IRS site contains .pdf versions of over 50 bilateral tax treaties. In many cases, Treasury Department technical explanations are also available.
Legislative History of United States Tax Conventions, Offsite storage, JX5505 Un395.
- Designed to compile legislative material relating to U.S. tax treaties, this 18 volume set also includes the treaties themselves. Within the section for each country, income tax treaties and associated documents come first, followed by estate and gift tax treaties, and exchange of information arrangements. Also available on Hein Online.
United States May Not be a party
International Tax Treaties of All Nations, JX 5505 .In895 and JX 5505. In896.
- Published by Oceana, this large set has two separate series. Series A includes all tax treaties in force when it was published in 1975. Series B began publishing new tax treaties in 1978, and has since issued roughly 40 volumes (the most recent is about 3 years out of date). All treaties in both sets are published in English, but many also have languages of the signatories. A cumulative index for both series is in a binder between the two sets.
Tax Analysts - Worldwide Tax Treaties, available on Lexis (INTLAW;TAWTT).
- Appears to be a comprehensive database of tax treaties, social security agreements, model tax treaties and related news. Also includes U.S.-specific material, especially documents associated with the legislative history of tax treaties. We own the microfiche version of this product (JX1 .T198, Cabinet 49), but only for 1986-1988. You can gain access to this material by using the Worldwide Tax Treaty Index, available at JX 5505 .W893, 2nd floor finding aids, and 2nd floor stacks.
International Bureau of Fiscal Documentation (IBFD)
- IBFD is an Amsterdam-based non-profit organization dedicated to world taxation issues. This group publishes various, regularly-updated looseleaf sets with tax treaties and analysis. The Diamond Law Library owns a number of these, including:
- The IBFD Tax Research Platform
- The IBFD Tax Research Platform provides access to IBFD products. Within the Platform, the contents are arranged in different information collections, such as News, IBFD's various levels of country descriptions (e.g. Country Key Features, Country Surveys, and Country Analyses), Treaties, Topical Analyses, EU Law and Case Law. Tax treaties can be searched by country, subject, status and more.
- Supplementary Service to European Taxation (European Tax Treaties), JX 5505 . Eu741.
- An amazing resource, this 20+ volume looseleaf contains the tax treaties (in English) involving European nations, along with related documents and analysis. The main portion of the set (section C) contains the treaty texts, and is divided by country. Sections A and B feature summaries of the corporate and individual tax laws of each European country. Section D includes model tax conventions and related information. In Section E, the editors have prepared a lengthy bibliography of official documents, periodicals, and books related to international taxation.
- Taxes and Investment in Asia and the Pacific, 2nd Floor, JX 6271 .In722.
- Like European Tax Treaties, this set is exhaustive and helpful. The first part features summaries of the tax environment within each of 41 countries. The second half includes tax treaties (in English), divided by country.
- Taxes and Investment in the Middle East, 2nd Floor, JX 6271 .T21.
- This set follows the pattern of the first two. The first volume features summaries of each Middle-Eastern country's tax law. The last three volumes have tax treaties in English, divided by country.
- African Tax Systems, Cellar, Af 975 .In8.
- Comprising six looseleaf binders and two bound volumes, this set summarizes each African nation's tax laws, then reprints their tax treaties (in English) divided by country.
- Taxation and Investment in the Caribbean, Cellar, Comp 975 .R619.
- Covering Caribbean nations, this publication consists of five looseleaf volumes. The first three include summaries of each nation's tax laws, and the last two reprint their tax treaties in English.
- Corporate Taxation in Latin America, Cellar, Sp.A 975 In8.
- The last in the IBFD series of tax treaty sets, this one covers Latin American nations. In three looseleaf volumes, each country's tax laws are summarized, then their tax treaties are reprinted in English.
In addition to these regional publications, IBFD also distributes tax treaty material for individual countries. Each contains a detailed survey of local tax law, and reprints in English the tax treaties of which that country is a part. The Diamond Law Library owns several, including:
International Terrorism: Multilateral Conventions (1937-2001), 2nd Floor, JX 6731 .T4 In804 2001.
- This is a helpful compilation of UN and League of Nations treaties on terrorism and war crimes. Also includes a number of hard-to-find regional conventions.
United Nations Treaties Against International Terrorism.
- Collected texts of about 15 UN treaties and other documents relating to terrorism. Instruments date back to 1963. See also the UN Treaty Series page on the same subject. This slightly more comprehensive site includes links to each convention's summary, status, and full text in PDF format.
International Terrorism: A Compilation of Major Laws, Treaties, Agreements, and Executive Documents, 106 th Congress (Comm. Print 2000), 2nd Floor, JX 231 Un54 1991.
- Prepared by the Congressional Research Service, this 1,700 + page compilation reprints U.S. legislative and executive branch documents, as well as treaties relating to efforts to combat terrorism. This large document is also available electronically via GPO's Federal Digital System (FDsys).
For treaty citation assistance, see the following resources:
The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation (Harvard Law Review Assocation, 2005), CircDesk, 3rd Fl Reference, and 2nd Fl Intl Law Finding Aids, KF 245 .U52.
- See rule 21.4 for information on treaty citation.
Guide to Foreign and International Legal Citations (NYU, 2006), 3rd Fl Reserve, K89 .G85 2006.
- Not only does this guide provide citation guidance, it also provides complete citations for many major treaties, arranged by subject. Also available for free download at the website of NYU's Journal of International Law and Politcs.
Frequently-Cited Treaties and Other International Instruments
- An excellent aid to law review citation-checking, this website from the University of Minnesotaprovides full citations for many frequently-cited treaties. It also includes a useful section on abbreviations and sources.
Other Research Guides
For more information, you might try one of these excellent research guides:
The American Society of International Law: Electronic Resource Guide: Treaties
Berkeley Law School Library: Treaties and International Agreements Research Guide
Georgetown University Law Center: Treaty Research
Globalex: An Introduction to Sources for Treaty Research
This guide was originally written by Simon Canick. It is maintained by Silke Sahl. Please send comments regarding this guide to
Silke Sahl, Arthur W. Diamond Law Library, Columbia Law School at firstname.lastname@example.org.