"[T]he term treaty, in the generic sense, signifies that the parties intend to create rights and obligations enforceable under international law," as explained in the glossary
of the United Nations Treaty Handbook
. Additional terms for treaties, which may have different nuances, include: convention, agreement, pact, understanding, protocol, charter, covenant, declaration, engagement, arrangement, and accord.
This guide focuses solely on treaty research. For more general international law research sources, see the Law Library's International, Foreign, and Comparative Law
research guide. Official Sources of United States Treaties and Agreements
United States Treaties and Other International Agreements (U.S.T.)
Location: S 9.12 (government documents)
Online location: HeinOnline
, Westlaw (USTREATIES
Since 1950, the State Department has published U.S. treaties and executive agreements in U.S.T., an official source for such agreements. Each volume includes a non-cumulating index and is arranged chronologically. Publication runs about 8 to 10 years behind.
Treaties and Other International Acts Series (T.I.A.S.)
Location: S 9.10 (government documents)
Online location: U.S. Department of State
Before being compiled into U.S.T., U.S. treaties and executive agreements are published in slip format in T.I.A.S., also an official source for international agreements. The pamphlets are consecutively numbered, but each is individually paginated. Although more current than U.S.T., T.I.A.S. still runs about six years behind.
United States Statutes at Large (Stat.)
Location: KF50 .U52 (aisle 19)
Online location: HeinOnline
, LexisNexis (LEGIS;STATLG
), Westlaw (US-STATLRG
Prior to 1950, the Statutes at Large served as the official source for United States international agreements. Volume 64 part 3 provides a list of included treaties.Other Indexes and Sources of Treaties and Agreements
Reporting International Agreements to Congress under Case Act
Prior to publication in TIAS, the Department of State reports international agreements to Congress and publishes them at this page by signing date. Documents are largely unedited.
Treaties in Force
Location: S 9.14 (government documents)
Online locations: Department of State
, LexisNexis (INTLAW;USTIF
), Westlaw (USTIF
This is the most important current index for U.S. treaties as it provides a listing of all the treaties in force as of January 1 of the year of issue. Entries provide citations for all major treaty publications including T.I.A.S., U.S.T., Bevans, U.N.T.S., and the Statutes at Large
. Listings with a T.I.A.S. abbreviation but no number are not yet available due to the publication delay. The first part of each issue provides an alphabetical listing, by both country and subject, of all bilateral treaties. The second part of each issue lists multilateral treaties alphabetically by subject, and each entry indicates which countries are parties to the treaty. Individual pages are not labeled bilateral or multilateral, so some care must be taken to ensure you are in the right section.HeinOnline Treaties and Agreements Library
The database "contains more than 18,000 records of treaties and agreements to which the United States has been a party." Treaties and International Agreements Online
Contains over 15,000 current treaties and international agreements, including international tax treaties. United Nations Treaties Collection
Full-text access to over 158,000 U.N. treaties. Environmental Treaties and Resource Indicators
"A fast, convenient, comprehensive online service for accessing multilateral environmental treaty data," this collaborative project is headed by The Center for International Earth Science Information Network
at Columbia University. Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy Multilaterals Project
This site provides multilateral conventions by subject, as well as a chronological listing of all conventions dating from 1899. It also allows you to conduct keyword searches of the text files.Frequently Cited Treaties and Other International Instruments
The University of Minnesota Law Library created this list of treaties frequently cited in law journals that includes citation information, source information, and full-text links, where available. Human Rights Library
A collection of "more than twenty-five thousand core human rights documents, including several hundred human rights treaties and other primary international human rights instruments." From the University of Minnesota Human Rights Center
Indian Affairs: Law and Treaties
Location: Y4.In2/2: L44 (government documents)
Online location: HeinOnline
, Oklahoma State University Library
Contains the text of treaties between the federal government and various Indian nations.
International Legal Materials (I.L.M.)
Location: Bound periodicals (Second floor)
Online locations: HeinOnline
, LexisNexis (INTLAW:ILM
), Westlaw (ILM
The American Society of International Law has published this set on a bimonthly basis since 1962. It contains the text of treaties considered to be of major significance and may sometimes provide drafts before a final agreement has been reached.
League of Nations Treaty Series (L.N.T.S.)
Location: MF 122 (microforms room)
L.N.T.S. preceded U.N.T.S. and contains treaties from 1920-1946 that were registered with the Secretariat of the League of Nations. Succeeded by U.N.T.S. North Atlantic Treaty Organization
Includes NATO Basic Texts
.Organization of American States (OAS) Department of International Legal Affairs
Includes OAS treaties
Treaties and Other International Agreements of the United States, 1776-1949 (Bevans)
Location: S 9.12/2 (government documents)
Online location: HeinOnline
This set, commonly called Bevans for the name of its editor, contains U.S. treaties through 1949. It is arranged chronologically by the date of signature and gives references to the Statutes at Large
United Nations Treaty Series (U.N.T.S.)
Location: KZ172 .T74 and Microfiche 123 (microforms room)
U.N.T.S. contains all treaties deposited with the Secretariat since 1946. The library has volumes 1 (1946)-453 (1963) in hard copy and v.454 (1963)-present in microfiche. Preceded by L.N.T.S. World Intellectual Property Organization
Includes WIPO treaties and documentations
. World Trade Organization
Includes WTO agreements and other documents
World Treaty Index, 2nd ed. (by Peter H. Rohn)
Location: JX 171 .R63
This useful tool provides a comprehensive index to bilateral and multilateral treaties through 1980. It features a keyword index, helpful when locating treaties by subject.
Locating Pending Treaties and Past Treaty ActionsUnited States Senate Treaty Database
A useful site for locating information about treaties currently pending in Congress. It lists all treaties received, put on the executive calendar and approved during the present Congress. It also provides information about treaties receiving floor action.U.S. Department of State: Treaty Affairs
This office "serves as the principal U.S. government repository for U.S. treaties and other international agreements." It offers a number of useful resources, including
- Treaty Actions for 1997 to the current year. Treaty Actions provides a monthly breakdown of all protocols, agreements, etc. formed throughout the year. It very briefly describes the agreement and notes actions taken on it, such as being ratified, signed or entered into force, and the dates of these.
- For 1994-1999 issues of Treaty Actions/Current Treaty Actions, see Treaties and Legal Issues from the University of Illinois at Chicago Library.
- For earlier coverage, see the preceeding source, Department of State Dispatch, treaties-current actions section.
Location: S 1.3/5 (government documents)
The State Department's archival site includes 1993-1999 issues, and the University of Illinois at Chicago site includes 1990-1999 issues.
- Treaties Pending in the Senate
- Private International Law
Congressional Index by CCH
Location: KF 49 .C6
Volume 1 always contains a treaties section that provides a status table for pending treaties. The source is updated weekly, has a subject index, and includes a chronology of actions relating to each treaty as well as a summary of what each treaty covers.CIS/Index
Location: index tables
This source allows a user to search for treaties by name, subject, or report/document numbers.Finding Cases Decided under U.S. Treaties
United States Code Service (U.S.C.S.)
Location: KF62 1972 .L38 (aisle 20)
The unnumbered volume entitled "Notes to Uncodified Law and Treaties" contains notes to cases that interpret or are decided under U.S. treaties.Other Research Guides
For more in-depth discussion and additional sources, seeAmerican Society of International Law: Treaties
Georgetown Law Library Treaty Research Guide
and Researching Treaties TutorialGlobaLex: An Introduction to Sources for Treaty Research
Prepared by Karen Wallace
, Circulation/Reference Librarian
Last Revised: August 2008, KW
Please feel free to e-mail author
with suggestions on improving this guide.