UNITED STATES TREATIES & HOW TO FIND THEM
Why research United States treaties?
Public International Law: Traditional definition: The law that governs relations between
states. Modern definition: International law consists of rules and principles of general
application dealing with the conduct of states and of international organizations and with
their relations inter se, as well as with some of their relations with persons, whether
natural or juridical, ALI Restatement of the Foreign Relations Law of the United States
3d. Sec. 101.
Private International Law: The body of conventions, model laws, legal guides, and other
documents and instruments that regulate private relationships across national borders.
Private international law has a dualistic character, balancing international consensus with
domestic recognition and implementation, as well as balancing sovereign actions with
those of the private sector.
International Court of Justice, Article 38 of the Charter (Sources of International Law):
International Conventions, whether general or particular, establishing rules expressly
recognized by the contesting states.
What is a treaty and how is it made?
Treaties are initiated, drafted and negotiated to agreement by the Executive Branch but
require two thirds approval by the Senate. After Senate approval, the treaty is ratified and
proclaimed by the President.
Executive Agreements are made with other countries by the President under the authority
to conduct foreign affairs. While similar in form and effect to treaties, Executive
Agreements do not require the advice and consent of the Senate.
Treaties can be referred to by a number of different names: international conventions,
international agreements, covenants, final acts, charters, protocols, pacts, accords, and
constitutions Treaties may be bilateral (two parties) or multilateral (between several
parties) and a treaty is usually only binding on the parties to the agreement. An
agreement "enters into force" when the terms for entry into force as specified in the
agreement are met.
What to keep in mind when researching Treaties or Executive Agreements.
Where does one find the full text of the treaty?
How does one determine the status of the treaty? Is it in force?
How does one locate current information on signatories, ratifications, and reservations?
Is there implementing legislation?
How to find a treaty to which the United States is a party .
General Research Guides
1. Cohen, Morris L., Robert C. Berring and Kent C. Olson. How to Find the Law. (9th
ed., St.Paul; MN: West, 1989) See chapter 15 "International Law".
2. Jacobstein, Myron J. And Mersky, Roy M. Fundamentals of Legal Research. (6th ed.,
Westbury, NY: Foundation Press, 1994) See chapter 20 "International Law".
3. ASIL Guide to Electronic Resources for International Law: Treaties, by J. Watson.
4. Researching Treaty Sources, by M. Hoffman.
5. Fundamentals of Treaty Research: U.S. and Non-U.S. (Electronic Resources),
by L. Louis-Jacques.
Finding Aids / Indexes
1. Treaties in Force: The primary use of TIF is verification of the existence of a treaty.
2. A Guide to United States Treaties in Force: An alternative to TIF, access is by a
combined subject index as well as by numerical and country index.
3. Kavass, United States Treaty Index: This is one of the best sources for recent treaty
information. There is a subject, chronological, and country index.
4. Current Treaty Index: This annual cumulative index lists current treaties and
agreements published in slip form in TIAS as well as those treaties without TIAS
5. Hein Online: This is a searchable document database from 1776 to date. Full text of
the treaties are in PDF format.
6. LexisNexis Congressional: Indexes Congressional material, including treaty
documents, from 1970 to date; is an electronic version of CIS Index and CIS Legislative
Histories. Serial Set documents from 1789 to 1969 are in PDF format. Congressional
materials from 1969 to date may not be readily available in electronic format, but the
library holds in either paper or microform.
7. United Nations Treaties is a searchable database of more recently deposited treaties.
It provides the full text of the treaty and additional information.
Full Text of Treaties and Other International Agreements
1. Statutes at Large (1789-1950): Treaties were published irregularly in Statutes at Large
from 1789 to 1903; starting with volume 37 (1931/32), international agreements were
also included. Volume 8 compiles foreign treaties, 1778-1845. Volume 7 compiles Indian
2. Bevans, Treaties and Other International Agreement Series (1776-1949): Contains the
full text of treaties and agreements and includes a cumulative country and subject index.
3. United States Treaties and Other International Agreements, 1950 to date (U.S.T.): The
official source for all U.S. treaties and agreements. There is currently an 8-10 year lag
time between ratification and official publication in the U.S.T.
4. Treaties and Other International Acts Series (T.I.A.S.): Slip treaties which are
published as individually paginated pamphlets with the pamphlets consecutively
5. Consolidated Treaties and International Agreements, 1990 to present (CTIA): A
current document service, this set seeks to include, within ninety days of release or
ratification, newly concluded international agreements, both executive agreements as
well as formal treaties, which have been ratified. Includes indices.
6. Topical compilations, such as: United States Tax Treaties.
Verification and Updating of Treaties
1. Shepard's United States Citations: Pre 1950 treaties are listed by Statutes at Large
citations. After 1950 they are listed by U.S.T. or T.I.A.S. number.
2. United States Code Service: "Notes to Uncodified Laws and Treaties" and
"International Agreements" are both unnumbered volumes of this service.
3. International Legal Materials: A regular section of this periodical is "Recent Actions
Regarding Treaties to which the United States is a Party". It also publishes the full text of
selected treaties. Is available on both Lexis and Westlaw.
4. Department of State reports recent activities of the State Department, including actions
on treaties. Also available on Lexis (Federal Legal – US; Executive Branch; Dept. of
State Dispatch); Westlaw (USDPTSTDIS); and the Internet
5. United States Senate, Legislative Activities, Treaties:
This site contains information about treaties received from the President, treaties on the
Executive Calendar, treaties approved by the Senate, and listings of other recent treaty
status actions, including treaties that were rejected by the Senate or withdrawn by the
President, during the current Congress.
1. Congressional Record Index: Provides a listing of treaty actions and discussion
appearing in the Record under the heading "Treaties" and occasionally under the name of
a particular treaty or its subject matter.
2. CIS Index or Congressional Universe: Indexes House and Senate reports, hearings and
3. American International Law Cases: A collection of United States court decisions with
a bearing on international law.
Prepared by :
Revised June 2006, updated D. Dames 12/2007