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International & Foreign Law Legal Research

Introduction

In the United States, we distinguish between Treaties and Executive Agreements:

  • Treaties are agreements with other countries which the President submits to the Senate for its advice and consent pursuant to Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution.
  • Treaties may be referred to by many names, e.g. International Conventions, Covenants, Protocols.
  • Executive Agreements are agreements negotiated by the President pursuant to a previously ratified treaty, a law enacted by Congress, or the President's authority. 

Both treaties and executive agreements are binding under international law.

One way to begin your research is to determine if you are attempting to locate a treaty to which the:

  1. United States is a party or;
  2. United States is not a party.

To learn more about the treaty process, and terms used in treaty research, please see the following:  Glossary of Terms Relating to Treaty Actions and United Nations Treaty Handbook.

For a general outline of the treaty process in the United States, and the resources associated with each stage of the process, see Washburn University School of Law's United States Treaties Research Guide.

Finding Treaties to Which the United States is a Party

Finding Treaties:  Treaty Guides and Indexes

(See below for Treaty Publications and Treaty Status)


Treaties in Force.

  • Published by the U.S. Government once a year.
  • Lists all bilateral and multilateral agreements considered to be in whole or in part in force for the U.S. as of January 1st of that year.
  • Availability

Guide to U.S. Treaties in Force (Kavass)

United States Treaty Index:  1776-1990 Consolidation

  • Updated by Current Treaty Index (see below).
  • Includes treaty number, subject, country, short-title, description, signing date, source(s), amending and extending information, in force information and legislative histories.
  • Availability

Kavass's Current Treaty Index. 

 

Treaty Publications

Treaties and Other International Acts Series (TIAS)

United States Treaties and Other International Agreements (UST).

  • The permanent official publication of US treaties and agreements.  The treaties, arranged by TIAS number, are printed in English and the other official language of the agreement.
  • Availability

U.S. Treaties and Other International Agreements of the United States of America, 1776-1949 (Bevans)

United States Statutes at Large

 

Treaty Status

Congress.gov/Treaties

  • Research the status of treaties submitted to the U.S. Senate.
  • Coverage:  94th Congress (1975-1976) to present.

Congressional Record

Treaty Actions, U.S. Department of State

  • Provides a record of actions taken by states in regard to international agreements
  • A few years out-of-date

US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations: Treaties

Treaties Pending in the United States Senate, U.S. Department of State

  •  Treaties submitted to the Senate that have not received Senate advice and consent to ratification.

Treaties in Force (see above)

Finding Treaties to Which the U.S. is Not Necessarily a Party

Treaty Publications

United Nations Treaty Series (UNTS)

  • Text of treaties and agreements registered or filed with the UN Secretariat since 1945.
  • Pursuant to Article 102 of the United Nations Charter, every treaty and international agreement entered into by any UN member state must be registered with the Secretariat.
  • Availability

Multilateral Treaties Deposited with the Secretary-General

  • Provides up-to-date status information on major multilateral treaties.
  • Provides information on the status of over 560 major multilateral instruments deposited with the Secretary-General of the United Nations.
  • Updated daily and intra-daily, as required.
  • Availability

League of Nations Treaty Series, League of Nations, 1920-1946

  • Treaties from 1920-1945 that were registered with the League of Nations' Secretariat.
  • Availability

Consolidated Treaty Series.  ed by Clive Perry.  Dobbs Ferry, NY: Oceana Publications, 1969-1981.

  • Text of world treaties from 1648-1919.
  • Treaties are reprinted in the original language with a French or English translation or summary.
  • Availability