Researching international treaties (a type of binding international instrument), and other international agreements, can be a complex process. There are, however, many useful guides available to provide assistance with this type of research. Note that treaties/international agreements can be bilateral (between two parties) or multilateral (between three or more parties).
Treaties in Force (TIF) lists U.S. treaties and agreements still in force, organized by country and subject. TIF is published annually and is available on the U.S. State Department's website. References to the texts of the treaties are also listed, if available. U.S. treaties first appear in slip form in Treaties and Other International Acts Series (T.I.A.S). The official source for all U.S. treaties and agreements is United States Treaties and Other International Agreements (U.S.T.). Both of the aforementioned publications are available in PDF format in HeinOnline's Treaties and Agreements Library. Both Westlaw and LexisNexis also contain U.S. treaties and agreements, and the U.S. State Department's website also provides access to T.I.A.S. from 1996 to 2018. U.S. treaties from 1776-1949 are available in digitized format via the Law Library of Congress website. For more in-depth information on researching U.S. treaties, see one of the research guides listed at right.
In the U.S., treaties are those international agreements that are made with the advice and consent of the Senate. International agreements not submitted to the Senate for approval are called executive agreements. Under the Case-Zablocki Act (1 U.S.C. § 112b), the U.S. Secretary of State must transmit to Congress the texts of any agreements to which the U.S. is a party (other than treaties) within 60 days of their entry into force.
The following are electronic guides to researching treaties:
The travaux préparatoires are the documents created during the negotiations, preliminary discussions, and drafting of an international agreement. For assistance researching travaux préparatoires, see the following guide posted on GlobaLex:
The following books serve as introductory works to treaties:
See the list below for various collections of treaties/international agreements on the WWW.
The UN Treaty Series (U.N.T.S.) is a collection of treaties and other international agreements, published since 1946, per Article 102 of the UN Charter. U.N.T.S. is available in electronic format (PDF). Click on "Advanced Search," then "Search For" treaty, and then filter by volume number.
Prepared in the summer of 2009, updated in February 2012, this 23-page guide offers instructions and tips on how to research foreign, comparative, and international law at the LUC Law Library. The annotated guide lists print reference sources, subscription databases, free websites, and current awareness sources that may be useful when approaching foreign, comparative, and international law questions.