UCB Libraries

 

Treaty Research

See also Finding International Treaties "Cheat Sheet", Researching U.S. Treaties and Agreements (Marci Hoffman), and Researching Non-U.S. Treaties (Stefanie Weigman)

 

By Leanne Walther

Introduction to Treaty Research

 

Treaties include all types of international agreements among sovereign states. Those agreements may be referred to as "conventions" (usually multilateral agreements), "protocols" (which expand an agreement), "charters", or even "letters". Treaties may be bilateral or multilateral, binding or nonbinding, self-executing or requiring implementing legislation. A treaty enters into force when it is deposited with an international organization or exchanges ratification with another country.

 

Treaties are a major source of international law. They have existed for centuries, but the law of treaties was codified in the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties of 1969 which came into force in 1980. The US, although not a party to the convention (has signed but not ratified it), still considers it as evidence of international law on the subject. Historically, treaties were used as instruments by states to transfer territory, settle disputes and execute other foreign policy matters (e.g.., make peace, etc..) In recent history treaties have been concluded to protect international human rights, regulate pollution and protect the environment, facilitate transnational litigation, and increasingly, to regulate economic activities such as trade, commercial relations and intellectual property.

 

To do effective treaty research it determine some fundamental points. Take the time to get as much of the following information as possible. This will determine your search strategy.

 

1. Do you know the title of the treaty?

2. Is the U.S. a party? Ascertaining this can save much time.

3. How current is the treaty?

4. Is it bilateral or multilateral? Who are the parties?

5. What is the status?

6. Are there limitations (reservations, qualifications, etc..)

7. Has it been amended?

8. Do you need the full-text of the treaty or just information about it? Do you just need an "official cite?"

9. If you need the full-text, do you need it from an "official" source or will a copy reprinted in a secondary source be sufficient?

Hint: Use The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation (16th ed. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard Law Review Association, 1996) for help in determining authoritative treaty sources.

 

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United States Treaties

Under U.S. law, the term "treaty" is reserved for agreements made by the President under the power granted by the U.S. Constitution. Treaties require the advice and consent of two-thirds of the Senate. A treaty is the law of the land and has the force of an act of Congress.

 

Another category of international agreement consists of executive agreements, which do not need the approval of the Senate. Executive agreements are made either on the basis of the President's constitutional authority, pursuant to authority in a treaty which has passed the Senate, by a law enacted by Congress or under the executive power of the President. 99% of current binding international agreements are in the form of executive agreements. By law, treaties and executive agreements are published first in pamphlets known as the Treaties and Other International Act Series (T.I.A.S). They are then published in bound volumes called the United States Treaties and Other International Agreements (U.S.T.) T.I.A.S. pamphlets are about five years behind in publication; U.S.T. volumes lag about ten years in publication. Other commercial sources have taken up the gap in these publication delays.

 

There are three basic steps in U.S. treaty research:

 

1. Locate an authoritative text for the treaty.

2. Determine whether the treaty is in force.

3. Interpret the treaty through legislative history and judicial interpretation.

 

Step One: Locating an Authoritative Text

 

I. United States Treaty Texts (Current)

 

A. Official Publications

1. Treaties and Other International Acts Series. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1946- Abbreviation: TIAS (S 9.10)

TIAS is a series of consecutively numbered, individually paginated pamphlets containing the text of treaties in the language of the parties. TIAS is the first official publication of U.S. treaties. They appear in this "slip" form and then eventually are published of the UST . TIAS continues the Treaty Series and the Executive Agreement Series and begins with pamphlet #1501. Each treaty is assigned a unique number (e.g. TIAS 10345) but treaties must be ratified before they are assigned a number. Delays in publication are considerable, often as much as five years.

2. United States Treaties and Other International Agreements. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of State, 1952- Abbreviation: UST (S 9.12)

After appearing in slip form in the TIAS, US treaties and agreements are published in this bound chronological set which began in 1950. Treaty texts are in English and the other official languages of the treaty. UST is the permanent and authoritative citation for U.S. treaties. There is a 10- to 12 year delay in publication.

3. U. S. Senate. Senate Treaty Documents and Senate Executive Reports. (U.S. Serial Set and CIS Microfiche)

The text of treaties transmitted to the Senate for its advice and consent are contained in Senate Treaty Documents (called Senate Executive Documents until the 97th Congress (1981)). Senate Treaty Documents, therefore, are one source of treaty texts when other sources, such as TIAS, are not yet available. Accompanying messages from the President and the Secretary of State are included with the treaty text. Senate Executive Reports are a valuable source for treaty interpretation. They are issued by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and contain the Committee's analysis and recommendations concerning proposed treaties and agreements. Both of these sources are indexed in the Monthly Catalog of US Government Publications as well as the Congressional Information Service (CIS) Index.

 

Treaty Documents as new as the last 30 days can be found on the Internet through GPO Access under: Congressional Documents - Senate, House and Treaty Documents. and Senate, House, and Executive Reports. Currently, treaty documents are searchable for the 104th and 105th Congresses and include the Secretary of State's Letter of Submittal to the President, the President's Letter of Transmittal to the Senate and a PDF file of the treaty text.

B. Other
1. International Legal Materials. Washington, DC: American Society of International Law, 1962- Published bimonthly. Annual index in November issue. Abbreviation: ILM

New treaties often appear here before anywhere else but it is not a comprehensive collection. ILM may be cited to if no other source is available. ILM is accessible on LEXIS ( INTLAW;ILM: 1982-) and WESTLAW (ILM: 1980-)

2. Igor I. Kavass & Mark A. Michael, eds. Hein's United States Treaties and Other International Agreements Current Microfiche Service. Buffalo, NY: Hein & Co., 1989- microfiche, bimonthly. (S 9.10 microfiche)

This unofficial publication, available on microfiche only, is designed to fill the gap left by long delays in the publication of the official TIAS set. This service publishes treaties within eight weeks of receipt by Congress and includes both treaties requiring the advice and consent of the Senate and also executive agreements not submitted to the Senate. Recent treaties are arranged by KAV (Kavass) number. KAV numbers are assigned for the temporary identification of treaties and agreements entered into by the U.S. after 1950 and not yet assigned a Treaty and Other International Act Series (TIAS) number. The Bluebook recommends citing to KAV numbers if UST or TIAS numbers are not available. Note: In 1990 the State Department began assigning temporary numbers to treaties as well , e.g. 90-1, 90-2, etc. These numbers are also provided.

3. Consolidated Treaties and International Agreements. Dobbs Ferry, NY: Oceana Publications, 1989-

Full-text of treaties are published here within ninety days of receipt by Congress from the Department of State. The full-text of the treaties are also available in Oceana's TIARA CD-ROM. An online version is available on LEXIS (INTLAW;TREATIES) but not on an academic subscription. Oceana also has a "Documents on Demand" via the Oceana website where you can locate 8000 US treaties via an index and order what you want by phone or e-mail. The rates are posted on each treaty, and there are surcharges for faxing, emailing, FedExing etc.

4. USTREATIES database. WESTLAW (USTREATIES)

Full-text of treaties obtained directly from the Department of State, going back to 1979 (TIAS no.10869). It includes agreements not yet published in TIAS, in which case a KAV number is provided. The time lag is approximately two months but there are gaps in coverage. The database is available on the academic subscription.

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II. U.S. Treaty Text (Historical)

A. Official Publications
1. United States Statutes at Large. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1846- Abbreviation: STAT (AE 2.111)

This is the official citation to U.S. treaties before 1950. The text of all U.S. treaties from 1776 through 1950 appear in this chronologically arranged set. Volume 8 contains the text of all treaties from 1776-1845. Early Indian treaties are found in volume 7. From 1846 on, treaties were published in the sessional volumes. Executive agreements are included in volumes 47-64. Volume 64 part 3 (1950-51) includes a list of all treaties and agreements in volumes 1 - 64. The list is arranged by country and then by topic. After 1950, the official publication for U.S. treaties became UST.

2. United States. Treaty Series. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1908-1948. Abbreviation: TS (S 9.5/2)

Originally an unnumbered pamphlet series, the TS covers the 1800's to 1945. Until 1930 it included Executive agreements. Numbered pamphlets begin with no. 489 (1905) and continue through no. 994 (1945). The earlier unnumbered pamphlets are published in Bevans. TS was replaced by TIAS in 1945.

3. U.S. Department of State. Executive Agreement Series. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1929-1945. Abbreviation: EAS (S 9.8)

EAS contains the texts of international agreements from Oct. 1, 1929 to March 16, 1945. The series ended with no. 506. EAS was replaced by TIAS in 1945.

Since the number of the two series together reached 1500 (994 and 506) the TIAS series began with no. 1501.

B. Other
1. Bevans, Charles. Treaties and Other International Agreements of the United States of America, 1776-1949. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of State, 1968-1976. Abbreviation: Bevans (S 9.12/2)

Bevans' set is considered a definitive compilation of U.S. treaties before 1950. It usually eliminates the need to consult Statutes at Large for treaty texts, although the texts in the latter are considered authoritative. This 13-volume set contains treaties and agreements in English text only. Volumes 1-4 are multilateral treaties arranged chronologically; volumes 5-12 are bilateral treaties arranged by country; volume 13 is the index to the set. This set supersedes two earlier compilations by Malloy and Miller listed below.

2. Malloy, William. Treaties, Conventions, International Acts, Protocols and Agreements Between the United States of America and Other Powers. Compiled by Malloy, Redmond and Trenwith. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office. Abbreviation: Malloy (S 5646/5647/6350/8167)

Volumes 1-2 covering 1776-1909 were compiled by William Malloy. Volume 3 covers 1910-1923 and was compiled by C. F. Redmond. Volume 4 covers 1923-1937 and was compiled by Trenwith. The set is cited as Malloy. Treaty texts are in English only and are annotated. Citations to treaties in U.S. Statutes at Large and the Treaty Series are provided. Volume 4 contains an index to the set, a list of treaties by date of proclamation and other useful tables and lists.

3. Miller, Hunter. Treaties and Other International Acts of the United States of America. Compiled by Hunter Miller. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office. Abbreviation: Miller (S9.511)

This set covers the period 1776-1863. Treaty text is in English and other official languages of each agreement. The texts are also annotated with citations to U.S. Statutes at Large and the Treaty Series. There is no index to this set. Volume 1 provides some explanation on how the set is arranged.

 4. Wiktor, Christian L. Unperfected Treaties of the United States of America. 1776-1976. Dobbs Ferry, N.Y.: Oceana 1976-1981. (REF JX 236 1776)

The texts of almost 400 multilateral and bilateral treaties "which have been signed on the part of the United States, or have been submitted to the Senate, but which have, for one reason or another, definitely failed to go into force" are included in this multi-volume set. Treaties still pending at the time the set was published were not included. There have not been any supplements.

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II. U.S. Treaty Indexes

A. Recent or Pending Treaties:
1. Congressional Index. Chicago: Commerce Clearing House, 1937- (REF J 69 C6)

Volume one of this loose-leaf set contains a section covering treaties pending before the Senate. The treaties are listed numerically and chronologically with a brief summary. References to Senate Treaty Documents, Senate Executive Reports, hearings, and ratifications are provided. Updated weekly, this index is one of the best sources for checking the status of pending U.S. treaties.

2. U.S. Department of State Dispatch. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1990- (S 1.3/5)

This weekly publication continues the Department of State Bulletin and, like the Bulletin, includes a list of treaties submitted to the Senate. The Dispatch also has a "treaty actions" section that appears every four to six weeks which provides status information on US bilateral and multilateral treaties. This is a useful source for information on current treaty developments from negotiation to ratification and proclamation and subsequent treaty actions. A serious limitation is that usually no treaty text source is cited. The Dispatch includes semi-annual and annual indexes and is also indexed in PAIS, Reader's Guide to Periodicals, and Current Law Index.

 

Also on LEXIS (INTLAW;DSTATE) and WESTLAW (USDPTSDIS) and Department of State Web site Dispatch (Current Issues) Archive (Volume 4-)

3. Hein's U.S. Treaty Index on CD-ROM. Buffalo, NY: William S. Hein, 1993-

Reproduction of Hein's United States Treaties Index: 1776-1990 and its supplements including Current Treaty Index (see below). (JX 231 U722)

 

This CD-ROM index provides the advantages of computerized searching of treaties. Searchable fields include not only titles and subject headings but also dates, treaty numbers, and country names. In addition, there are links that allow one to go directly to information about a document referenced in the entry being viewed. In addition to providing citations to official sets such as TIAS and UST, it also provides unofficial KAV numbers keyed to Hein's U.S. Treaties and Other International Agreements - Current Microfiche Service. Additional citations may also be provided to U.S. Senate documents and to International Legal Materials.

 

Search commands use West's PREMISE software with commands similar to WESTLAW. Use PREMISE guides or keyboard templates to assist in getting started and for advanced searching features. A Treaty Research Guide written by Igor Kavass is included on the CD-ROM.

 5. Kavass, Igor I. Current Treaty Index. Buffalo, NY: Hein, 1982-

Semi-annual cumulative pamphlets to United States Treaty Index: 1776-1990 Consolidation . Indexes T.I.A.S. pamphlets and unpublished and unnumbered treaties. Includes tables for converting KAV to TIAS numbers and vice versa. Includes a list of all treaties made and submitted to the Senate since 1950.

 6. Kavass, Igor I. & Mark A. Michael, Hein's United States Treaties and Other International Agreements Current Microfiche Service. INDEX. Buffalo, NY: Hein , 1989- microfiche, bimonthly. (REF JX 231 U 72)

Indexes recent T.I.A.S. pamphlets and unpublished and unnumbered treaties. Cross references temporary Department of State treaty numbers to KAV numbers.

 

 B. Other Indexes

1. Treaties in Force: A List of Treaties and Other International Agreements of the United States in Force on January 1 ... Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1941- Annual. Abbreviation: TIF (Latest in REF S 9.14)

List of treaties currently in force to which the United States is a party. Bilateral agreements are listed alphabetically by country and by broad subject categories within each country. Multilateral agreements are arranged by subject only. The subjects for bilateral and multilateral agreements are not always the same, which often makes subject searching frustrating. Citations to UST or TIAS are provided, as well as dates of signing and entry into force.

 

A new edition usually appears around August of each year, which means the information is from 8 to 20 months old.

 

The current TIF (January 1, 2000) is available on the Internet. The file requires a PDF reader and quite a bit of time to load since it is 509 pages long. The document is available for viewing and download only; there is no searching option.

 2. Kavass, Igor I. and Adolf Sprudzs, Guide to United States Treaties in Force. Buffalo, NY: Hein, 1982- Annual.

In Part I treaties are categorized by number and subject. Part II contains a chronological index of multilateral treaties and a country index.

3. Kavass, Igor I. United States Treaty Index: 1776-1990 Consolidation. Buffalo, NY: Hein , 1991. (REF JX 231 U58 1991)

Comprehensive index. The work contains a numerically arranged master guide with full descriptions of each treaty and agreement, a chronological index, a country index (including international organizations), and a subject index. Cumulative supplements are issued. Updated by the Current Treaty Index.

 4. American Foreign Policy and Treaty Index. Bethesda, MD: Congressional Information Service, 1993- (INDEX JX 1417 C66)

Indexes treaties, conventions and executive agreements, including treaties submitted to the Senate for ratification, treaties ratified, and executive agreements not requiring ratification. The accompanying microfiche includes the full-text of those documents. In addition, compilations of texts of treaties in force are also included, as well as analytical article and reports for many treaties. Abstract volumes contain TIAS numbers, summaries of treaties, signature dates and entry into force dates. Indexed by country, title of treaty, subject and also under the heading, "Treaty Actions". If the treaty text is on the accompanying microfiche, the word "text" will appear next to the entry in the index.

In the Abstract volumes, the "7000-12" numbers are the TIAS items and the "7000-25" numbers are the international agreements which do not require the advise and consent of the Senate. Treaty documents are in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee publications' number 25380.

5. United States. Department of State. Catalogue of Treaties 1814-1918. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office; dist. by Oceana, 1964 (1919). (REF S 9.2:C 2)

Chronological list of treaties. Includes time and place of signature and ratification, the signatories, and treaty collections where the text may be found. Country index provided.

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Step Two: Determining the Status

Treaties in Force: A List of Treaties and Other International Agreements of the United States in Force on January 1 ... Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1941- Annual. Abbreviation: TIF (Latest in REF S 9.14)

List of treaties currently in force to which the United States is a party. Bilateral agreements are listed alphabetically by country and by broad subject categories within each country. Multilateral agreements are arranged by subject only. The subjects for bilateral and multilateral agreements are not always the same, which often makes subject searching frustrating. Citations to UST or TIAS are provided, as well as dates of signing and entry into force.

 

A new edition usually appears around August of each year, which means the information is from 8 to 20 months old.

 

The current TIF (January 1, 2000) is available on the Internet. The file requires a PDF reader and quite a bit of time to load since it is 509 pages long. The document is available for download and viewing only; there is searching option.

Update TIF with the Department of State Dispatch.

U.S. Department of State Dispatch. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1990- (S 1.3/5)

This weekly publication continues the Department of State Bulletin. It has a "Treaty Actions" section that appears every four to six weeks which provides status information on US bilateral and multilateral treaties. A serious limitation is that usually no source is cited for the treaty text.

 

Also on LEXIS (INTLAW;DSTATE) and WESTLAW (USDPTSDIS) and Department of State Web site Dispatch (Current Issues) Archive (Volume 4-)

Indexed in Current Treaty Index.

Kavass, Igor I. and Adolf Sprudzs, Guide to United States Treaties in Force. Buffalo, NY: Hein, 1982- Annual.

Annual lists of terminations and newly entered into force agreements appear in the Appendix to Part 1. 

Congressional Index. Chicago: Commerce Clearing House, 1937- (REF J 69 C6)

Volume one of this loose-leaf set contains a section covering treaties pending before the Senate. The treaties are listed numerically and chronologically with a brief summary. References to Senate Treaty Documents, Senate Executive Reports, hearings, and ratifications are provided. Updated weekly, this index is one of the best sources for checking the status of pending U.S. treaties.

Shepard's U.S. Citations: Statutes at Large and Treaties sections. (UST, TIAS and Stat. cites) Also State eds.

Cites to federal cases interpreting treaties, statutes affecting treaties, and amendments by later treaties. State court citations are in the state editions.

Foreign Policy Bulletin: The Documentary Record of United States Foreign Policy. Washington, DC: July/Aug. 1990- bimonthly. (PER RM E 881 F67)

Includes information and text of non-binding agreements and executive agreements not published elsewhere.

International Legal Materials, Washington, DC: American Society of International Law, 1962- Published bimonthly. Annual index in November issue. Abbreviation: ILM.

Recent treaty actions sections are published quarterly and include US treaties and treaties to which the US is not a party. Available on LEXIS ( INTLAW;ILM: 1982- ) and WESTLAW (ILM: 1980)

 

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Step Three: Legislative History and Judicial Interpretation

Congressional Index. Chicago: Commerce Clearing House, 1937- (REF J 69 C6)

Look in Senate section under: Nominations & Treaties.

CIS Index to Publications of the U.S. Congress. Washington, DC: Congressional Information Service, 1970- (KF 49 C62)

Indexes and abstracts reports, hearings, calendars, including Senate treaty documents and Senate executive documents. Subject indexes contain entries under "treaties and conventions" as well as under specific topics.

 

 Also available on CD-ROM. Congressional Masterfile. (KF 49 C622)

Congressional Record. (Perm. ed.: X 1.1; Daily ed.: X 1.1A; CD-ROM: X 99.1:131)

The full Senate's action on a treaty is reported in the CR, as well as any debate on a treaty. The approval of a treaty may be subject to reservations, qualifications or understandings. If the Senate's reservations, etc. are not agreeable to the President or the other treaty parties, the treaty may become dead or the negotiating process may begin again. The text of these reservations, etc. are published with the treaties.

Also available through FDSys: Congressional Record

U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. Legislative Calendar of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office. (Y 4.F 76/2)

Includes lists of Senate executive reports.

U.S. Senate. Committee on Foreign Relations. Senate Executive Reports. (Y 1.1/6 )

These reports, which accompany treaties out of committee to the Senate floor, usually describe the purposes of the treaty, the issues which have been considered by the committee, and may include excerpts from testimony presented at hearings or documents submitted as further information to the committee. Indexed in the Monthly Catalog and the CIS Index to Congressional Publications. Online: Senate, House, and Executive Reports.

 

For historical research, keep in mind that before 1930 these types of documents were confidential. Between 1930 and 1980, although no longer confidential, they were not included in the Congressional Serial Set. These historical documents have been compiled in a microfiche collection called Senate Executive Documents and Reports, which covers the period from 1817 to 1969. This set is accompanied by a two-volume index called CIS Index to US Senate Executive Documents and Reports. (Index: KF 40 C57 1987 & Documents: microfiche 873)

Foreign Policy Bulletin: The Documentary Record of United States Foreign Policy. Washington, D.C.. July/Aug. 1990- bimonthly. (PER ROOM E 881 F67)

Includes information and text of non-binding agreements and executive agreements not published elsewhere.

U.S. President. Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office. (AE 2.109)

Contains the Presidential letters of transmittal, as well as announcements of treaty ratification and Presidential proclamations of the treaty.

Also available on the Internet through GPO Access:

U.S. Department of State Dispatch. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1990- (S 1.3/5)

Information on all phases of the treaty process. Also on LEXIS (INTLAW;DSTATE) and WESTLAW (USDPTSDIS) and the Department of State Web site Dispatch (Current Issues) Archive (Volume 4-)

Shepard's U.S. Citations: Statutes at Large and Treaties sections (UST, TIAS and Stat. cites). Also State eds. Cites to federal cases interpreting treaties, statutes affecting treaties, and amendments by later treaties. State court citations are in the state editions.

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Useful Phone Numbers

  • Treaty status and recent texts: Assistant Legal Adviser for Treaty Affairs, U.S. Department of State, PHONE: 202-647-2044 FAX: 202-736-7541
  • Status of treaty negotiations and post-ratification developments: Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, PHONE: 202-224-4651 FAX (202) 224-0836
  • Country Desks at Commerce: Call (202) 482-2000 and ask for country desk.
  • Country Desks at State: Call (202) 647-4000 and ask for particular country desk  

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Listing of Commonly Used Abbreviations and Terms

 

Listed below are some of the commonly used abbreviations in U.S. treaty research with their full titles:

  • Bevans Treaties and Other International Agreements of the USA 1776-1949.
  • ILM International Legal Materials.
  • Malloy Treaties, Conventions, International Acts, Protocols and Agreements Between the United States of America and Other Powers.
  • Miller Treaties and Other International Acts of the USA.
  • Redmond Redmond is the compiler of volume 3 of the Malloy set).
  • Stat. United States Statutes at Large.
  • TIAS Treaties and Other International Acts Series.
  • TIF Treaties in Force.
  • Trenwith Trenwith is the compiler of volume 4 of the Malloy set.
  • UST United States Treaties and Other International Agreements.

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Treaties to Which U.S. Is Not a Party

 

 I. Treaty Texts (Current)

A. Official Publications
1. United Nations Treaty Series . New York: United Nations, 1946/47- Abbreviation: UNTS (ST/LEG(05)/U5)
United Nations Treaty Collection provides access to Status of Multilateral Treaties and Deposited with the Secretary-General andUnited Nations Treaty Series (UNTS)
Requires login and password. Ask for help at the Government Information office. Linked on the United Nations page.

The UN Charter requires members to register their treaties with the Secretariat, which are then published in the UNTS. Arrangement is by date of registration, not date of signature or ratification. Often there are delays in registering the treaties and some countries simply do not comply. This is the primary official set for texts of multilateral and bilateral agreements on a worldwide basis. Texts are published in their official languages and in English and French. Although UN treaties do have a registration number, these numbers are not used for location and citation purposes in the way TIAS numbers are used for U.S. treaties. Citations are made to volume and page number (e.g. 678 UNTS 345). The biggest problem, however, is the publication delay of some 10 years. Occasionally there is non-sequential publication of volumes; skipped volumes are published later. Also, it is often difficult to locate treaties in this set, since the indexing is neither very good nor very timely. Probably better to use Multilateral Treaties Deposited with the Secretary General to identify the treaty citation.

 

Treaty texts are on the UN Treaty Web site. The UN Treaty site on has an overview of the series which contains definitions of key terms (an explanation of treaties, conventions, charters and other international agreement types) and a glossary of terms relating to treaty actions (such as entry into force).

 

Approximately 30,000 treaties and related actions already published in the 1450 volumes of the UNTS are available in English, French and any other authentic language used. Considerable efforts have been made by the UN to ensure that a treaty could be located with relative ease using such information as type of agreement, date of signature, entry into force, names of the parties and popular names. Documents are scanned in from the UNTS volumes. Currently, the site is free but you must register in order to access treaty texts and information.

 2. European Treaty Series. Strasbourg: Council of Europe, 1949- Abbreviation: ETS

3. European Conventions and Agreements. Strasbourg: Council of Europe, 1961-

Texts in English and French of international agreements concluded within the Council of Europe are included in these sets. New agreements are initially published as separate pamphlets in the official European Treaty Series, each with its own ETS number. European Conventions and Agreements is the bound compilation of ETS agreements.

Although according to the Council of Europe it is the ETS pamphlets rather than the bound set that provides the official publication, the bound sets are more convenient to use, and they do preserve the original ETS numbering. A separate subject index volume covers only volumes 1 and 2 of the first edition.

 4. Treaty Series (Organization of American States). Washington, D.C.: General Secretariat, Organization of American States. Continues: Treaty Series (Pan-American Union)

5. Regional and National Collections (other than U.S.) For a list of these collections, use the Guide to International Legal Research mentioned in the Treaty Research Guides section of this bibliography.

 B. Other

1. International Legal Materials. Washington, DC: American Society of International Law, 1962- Published bimonthly. Annual index in November issue. Abbreviation: ILM

Available on LEXIS ( INTLAW;ILM: 1982-) and WESTLAW (ILM: 1980-)

ILM is one of the best and most highly regarded publications available for research in international law. It should always be considered as a possible source of treaty texts, regardless of whether the U.S. is a party or not. While multilateral agreements are more likely to appear, bilateral agreements may be included as well.

Its particular strength is timely publication of selected documents, much in contrast to various official sources. New treaties often appear here before anywhere else. In addition to the text, explanatory material is often added.

 2. European Yearbook. The Hague: Nijhoff, 1955.

The yearbook annually reprints all major European in-force treaties. It may run two to three years behind. 

 

II. Treaty Texts (Historical)

A. Official Publications
Treaty Series: Publications of Treaties and International Engagements Registered with the Secretariat of the League. Geneva, League of Nations, 1920-1946. 205 volumes. Abbreviation: LNTS (1011 T71)

This set covering the period 1920 through 1945 is similar to UNTS in that it contains treaties of the League's members registered with the League's Secretariat. English and French translations accompany reprints of the official texts. Each volume has its own index. Cumulative indexes covering 3 or more years each are also provided.

 B. Other
1. Parry, Clive. Consolidated Treaty Series. Dobbs Ferry, N.Y.: Oceana, 1969-1981. Abbreviation: CTS or Consol. T.S.

This 243 volume set is the major compilation of treaties on a worldwide basis from 1648 to 1919. It thus provides coverage for the period before the League of Nations and the United Nations treaty collections, but CTS is an unofficial publication. Treaty text is reprinted in the language of one of the signatories and often accompanied by a French or English translation or summary. The set has a chronological list and party name index but no subject index.

2. Sohn, Louis and Manley O. Hudson. International Legislation. New York: Carnegie, 1931-1950.

This nine volume compilation provides texts of over 600 "multipartite international instruments of general interest" from the period 1919 to 1949. Arrangement is chronological but subject access is provided. One unique feature of the set is inclusion of some agreements that were never brought into force.

 

II. Treaty Indexes

A. Current
1. International Legal Materials. Washington, DC: American Society of International Law, 1962- Published bimonthly. Annual index in November issue. Abbreviation: ILM.

Available on LEXIS ( INTLAW;ILM: 1982- ) and WESTLAW (ILM: 1980-)

Use annual index in November issue and periodic index cumulation.

 2. United Nations Master Treaty Index on CD-ROM and Current United Nations Treaty Index. Buffalo, NY: Hein, 1995-

Coverage is not complete. Uses PREMISE software for the search engine. Searchable fields include not only titles and subject headings but also dates, treaty numbers, and country names. Citations provided to the UN Treaty Series.

3. Multilateral Treaties Deposited with the Secretary-General. New York: United Nations, 1982- Annual. (Latest in REF ST/LEG/SER.E)

Previously published as: Multilateral Treaties in Respect of Which the Secretary- General Has Depository Functions (1967-1979).

 

This is an annual index to multilateral treaties deposited with the UN. It provides information on the status of treaties deposited with the Secretary-General, as well as information on treaties deposited with the League of Nations that were transferred to the custody of the UN are covered and pre-UN agreements that were amended by UN protocols.

 

Part I covers UN multilateral treaties and is arranged by topic. Within each topic, treaties are arranged chronologically. Part II covers the League of Nation multilateral treaties in chronological order. Citations to the treaty text in the UNTS of the UN document citation are given. In addition, the full-text of individual country reservations and declarations are provided. This index is supplemented by Statement of Treaties and International Agreements, a monthly UN publication.

 

 Available on the UN Treaty Web Site: It is updated weekly.

4. Statement of Treaties and International Agreements Registered or Filed with the Secretariat. New York: United Nations, 1947- (ST/LEG/SER.A)

This monthly UN publication serves as a supplement to Multilateral Treaties Deposited with the Secretary-General. It is the only published listing of all bilateral and multilateral treaties registered or filed with the UN Secretariat. It provides information in English and French concerning original treaties and agreements. It also provides information such as ratifications, accessions and subsequent agreements concerning treaties and agreements already registered or filed with the Secretariat. Each issue has a cumulative subject index and numerical index, (by registration or filing and recording numbers).

A major problem with this index is that there is a substantial delay in publication. Therefore it is not a useful source of very current information. It is also not as comprehensive as some other indexes because it is based on the submissions of member states.

5. Bowman, M.J. and D.J. Harris, Multilateral Treaties: Index and Current Status. London, Butterworths, 1984- Supplements published by Nottingham Treaty Centre.

For multilateral treaties throughout the world, this is the first choice for citation information. This is one of the most comprehensive and current indexes for multilateral treaties. Citations are given to multiple official and unofficial sources, with detailed information about dates, signatories, parties, reservations and notes on the scope.

The main index volume has a chronological list of treaties and also features a subject index and keyword index. The supplement is arranged in two parts. Part A is a chronological list of new treaties with full entries. Part B provides updated status and other information treaties already in the main volume.

 

Status information is also provided but the supplementation is not always timely.

B. Historical
1. United Nations Treaty Series - Cumulative Indexes. New York: United Nations, 1946- .

Not any master cumulation to the entire set. Publication lags by as much as 15 years.

2. League of Nations Treaty Series - General Index. Geneva: League of Nations, 1920-1946. (1011 T71)

Each index volume covers a span of several years between 1920 and 1946. There is no single cumulation available. Subject, country, and chronological access is provided.

3. Rohn, Peter. World Treaty Index. 2nd ed. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 1983-1984. (REF JX 171 R63 1983)

This is a comprehensive multi-volume index to multilateral and bilateral treaties from 1900 to 1980. Citations to treaty texts appearing in LNTS, UNTS and numerous other sources are provided. Volume 1 (Reference Volume) has a helpful "User's Guide" on page 12 of the introduction. A sample entry is reproduced with an explanation of the various categories of information provided. The abbreviations used in the entries are listed and explained in the Thesaurus in volume 1. Volume 2 and 3 contain the main entries in chronological order by date of signature. Volume 4 is an extensive party index arranged in alphabetical order. Volume 5 is a keyword index.

This multi-volume index covers bilateral and multilateral treaties between 1900 and 1980.

4. Consolidated Treaty Series--Index Volumes. Clive Parry, ed. Dobbs Ferry, NY: Oceana. Covers 1648-1919.

5. Harvard Law School Library. Index to Multilateral Treaties. Vaclav Mostecky, ed. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard Law School; dist. by Oceana, 1965. (REF DEPT JX 171 H35)

This is one of the best indexes for finding obscure historical treaties, amendments and drafts. It consists of a chronological list of multilateral treaties from 1596 through 1963. The entries provide citations to the text in a variety of language sources. A subject and regional index are also provided.

6. Inter-American Treaties and Conventions. Washington, D.C.: Organization of American States, 1989.

This OAS publication provides information about signatures, ratifications, etc. for inter-American treaties. While no texts of treaties are included, the texts of reservations are given. Arrangement is by categories, but there is a brief subject index. Also available on the OAS Web site

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III. Treaty Status

1. Multilateral Treaties Deposited with the Secretary-General. New York: United Nations, 1982- Annual. (ST/LEG/SER.E)
United Nations Treaty Collection provides access to Status of Multilateral Treaties Deposited with the Secretary-General and United Nations Treaty Series (UNTS)
Requires login and password. Ask for help at the Government Information office. Linked on the United Nations page.

Previously published as: Multilateral Treaties in Respect of Which the Secretary- General Has Depository Functions (1967-1979).

 

This is an annual index to multilateral treaties deposited with the UN. It provides information on the status of treaties deposited with the Secretary-General, as well as information on treaties deposited with the League of Nations that were transferred to the custody of the UN are covered and pre-UN agreements that were amended by UN protocols.

 

Part I covers UN multilateral treaties and is arranged by topic. Within each topic, treaties are arranged chronologically. Part II covers the League of Nation multilateral treaties in chronological order. Citations to the treaty text in the UNTS of the UN document citation are given. In addition, the full-text of individual country reservations and declarations are provided. This index is supplemented by Statement of Treaties and International Agreements, a monthly UN publication.

 

 Available on the UN Treaty Web Site: It is updated weekly.

2. Statement of Treaties and International Agreements Registered or Filed with the Secretariat. New York: United Nations, 1947- (ST/LEG/SER.A)

This monthly UN publication serves as a supplement to Multilateral Treaties Deposited with the Secretary-General. It is the only published listing of all bilateral and multilateral treaties registered or filed with the UN Secretariat. It provides information in English and French concerning original treaties and agreements. It also provides information such as ratifications, accessions and subsequent agreements concerning treaties and agreements already registered or filed with the Secretariat. Each issue has a cumulative subject index and numerical index, (by registration or filing and recording numbers). 

A major problem with this index is that there is a substantial delay in publication. Therefore it is not a useful source of very current information. It is also not as comprehensive as some other indexes because it is based on the submissions of member states.

3. International Legal Materials. Washington, DC: American Society of International Law, 1962- Published bimonthly. Annual index in November issue. Abbreviation: ILM.

Recent treaty actions section published quarterly. Available on LEXIS ( INTLAW;ILM: 1982-) and WESTLAW (ILM: 1980-)

4. Netherlands International Law Review. Dordrecht: Martinus Nijhoff, 1975- Updates Hague conventions.

5. Chart Showing Signatures and Ratifications of Conventions and Agreements Concluded within the Council of Europe. Strasbourg: Council of Europe.

This is a detailed chart, issued in loose-leaf format, of the status of agreements in the European Treaty Series (ETS). It also includes texts of reservations, but not the text of the agreements themselves. Issues several times per year.

6. Inter-American Treaties and Conventions. Washington, D.C.: Organization of American States, 1989.

This OAS publication provides information about signatures, ratifications, etc. for inter-American treaties. While no texts of treaties are included, the texts of reservations are given. Arrangement is by categories, but there is a brief subject index. Also available on the OAS Web site

 

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Useful Phone Numbers

  • Treaty status: UN Office of Treaty Affairs: Multilateral Treaties deposited with the Secretary-General: 212-963-7958
  • Treaties not deposited with the S-G but with a Government or Organization: 212-962-7833
  • Country Desks at Commerce: Call (202) 482-2000 and ask for country desk.
  • Country Desks at State: Call (202) 647-4000 and ask for particular country desk.
  • Consulates and Embassies are also possibilities.

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Listing of Commonly Used Abbreviation and Terms

  • CTS Consolidated Treaty Series.
  • ETS European Treaty Series.
  • ILM International Legal Materials.
  • LNTS League of Nations Treaty Series.
  • UNTS United Nations Treaty Series.

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nternal Treaty Sites (General):

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Treaty Collections

 

There are many published collections of treaties, some general, most on particular topics. Often, while these sources contain reprints of the text, no citation or status information is available.

Some examples are:

 

General

International Law & World Order: Basic Documents. Burns H. Weston, ed. Irvington- on-Hudson, NY: Transnational Publishers, 1994- (loose-leaf)

Subject

Economic/Commercial:
Basic Documents of International Economic Law. Stephen Zamora & Ronald A. Brand, eds. Chicago: Commerce Clearing House, 1990. 2 vols. Also available on LEXIS (INTLAW;BDIEL) and WESTLAW (IEL). Online versions include some documents not found in bound volumes.

Environment:

International Environmental Law: Multilateral Treaties. W.E. Burhenne, ed.; Robert Muecke, comp. Berlin: E. Schmidt, 1974- Provides citations and status information as well as full-text in English, French & German.

International Protection of the Environment: Treaties and Related Documents. Bernd Ruster & Bruno Simma, eds. Dobbs Ferry, NY: Oceana, 1975- 1st and 2d series. 

International Environmental Soft Law: Collection of Relevant Documents. W.E. Burhenne, ed. Dordrecht, Netherlands: Nijhoff, 1993-

International Environmental Reporter. Washington, DC: BNA, 1978- Texts of treaties and list of signatories are provided in the Reference Files. Current Reports only are online.

Policy Instruments Database (produced by the Consortium for International Earth Science Information Network and its Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center) on the Internet. Includes full-text of treaties and status:

Extradition:

Igor Kavass and Adolf Sprudzs, Extradition Law & Treaties, United States. Buffalo, NY: Hein, 1980- (loose-leaf)

Human Rights:

United Nations Centre for Human Rights. Human Rights: A Compilation of International Instruments of the United Nations.

Human Rights Library at the University of Minnesota Web Site. Includes treaties, declarations and other instruments:

Taxation:

Walter H. Diamond & Dorothy B. Diamond, International Tax Treaties of All Nations. Dobbs Ferry, NY: Oceana, 1975-

 Tax Treaties. Chicago, Commerce Clearing House, 1990- 

Trade:

Lex Mercatoria (alias the International Trade Law Monitor ITLM --also referred to as ITL & ITM) "The LM presents the full texts and where relevant country implementation details of several of the most important conventions and other documents used in international trade and commerce ."

 

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European Union Treaties

 

I. Treaty Collections

The Official Journal. 1958- (Micro 1000 E19 J826e L)

Community legislation is published in the Official Journal, the official daily gazette of the European Union. The Official Journal (OJ) contains both proposed and final legislation and is also the authoritative source for the text of treaties. Although it is abbreviated in English as (OJ), it is also seen in citations as J.O. and J.O.C.E.

Legislation-L Series contains legislation, directives, and treaties.

Common Market Law Reports. London: European Law Centre/Sweet & Maxwell, 1962- Abbreviation: CMLR

Treaties Establishing the European Communities. 3d ed. Luxembourg: Office for Official Publicationsof the European Communities, 1987. (1000 E19 T683a 1987)

Common Market Reporter. Chicago, Commerce Clearing House, 1962-

This service contains texts of treaties, secondary legislation, pending legislation, drafts of proposals, as well as case law annotations. Includes an excellent newsletter, EU Focus, which spotlights important developments.

Encyclopedia of European Community Law. K.R. Simmonds, ed. London: Sweet & Maxwell, 1973- multivolume. Series B is the collection of treaties.

European Union treaties (1979-) are also on LEXIS (EUROPE;TREATY & EURCOM; TREATY & INTLAW;ECTY) and on the CELEX database.

CELEX is a legal database offering full texts of the EC/EU founding treaties (the constitutional law of the EC/EU are the founding treaties), binding and nonbinding legislative acts, opinions and resolutions of tEU institutions and case law. CELEX is available on LEXIS (INTLAW & EUROCOM libraries) and on the Internet.

 

II. Tracking Legislation

The Directory of Community Legislation in Force. Brussels: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, 1984- (Latest on INDEX table 1000 E19 J826d)

Produced each June and December.

Hint: Use "A citation manual for European Community materials." Fordham International Law Journal, v. 19 (Feb. '96), p. 1317-34 , for help in unraveling EU citations.

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Guides to Treaty Research

  • Cohen, Morris L., Robert C. Berring and Kent C. Olson. How to Find the Law. 9th ed. St. Paul, Minn: West, 1989. See chapter 15 "International Law" for a good detailed discussion of treaty research including treaty interpretation.
  • George Washington University Journal of International Law and Economics, The Guide to International Legal Research. 2d ed. Salem, NH: Butterworth Legal Publishers, 1993 and 1996 Supplement: A Guide to Internet and Commercial Online Research. The introductory chapter, "Research Tips in International Law", by John W. Williams, is a good overview of research tools and techniques. Excellent for treaty sources.
  • Jacobstein, Myron J. and Roy M. Mersky. Fundamentals of Legal Research. 5th ed. (1990). See Chapter 20 "International Law" for a good discussion of treaty research sources.
  • Kavass, Igor. "Treaty Research Guide," in Hein's U.S. Treaty Index on CD-ROM. Buffalo, N.Y.: Hein, 1993- . One of the supplementary features of this index is a chapter on treaty research by noted expert Igor Kavass. The research guide appears as a document (pages 19-40) on the CD ROM, and it can be printed or downloaded to disk.
  • United States Senate. Committee on Foreign Relations. Treaties and Other International Agreements: the Role of the United States Senate. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1993. This Congressional Research Service study, published for the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, is an excellent, detailed study of the U.S. treaty process. Included is a good discussion of the distinction between treaties and executive agreements. There is also an extensive annotated bibliography with many valuable suggestions for further study of the subject.

 

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