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Foreign & International Legal Research Guide: Treaties

Treaty Research Process

When conducting treaty research, a researcher should:

1) Locate the treaty text (from an authoritative source)

2) Determine whether the treaty is still in force? Who are the parties? Are there any reservations? Are there any amendments?

3) Determine whether there been any litigation (U.S. or other) regarding the treaty?

4) Determine whether there are questions about interpretation? Consider:

           – Article 31 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties

           --Commentaries, judicial decisions, drafting history(Travaux Préparatoires).

Research Guides

The following guides for Treaty research are recommended as starting points:

Subscription Databases

While limited treaty content is available through large subscription services, such as Weslaw and Lexis, most researchers will incorporate specialized databases, such as the ones below.

Free Websites

Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties

The Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, found at A/Conf.3927 (1969), 1155 U.N.T.S 331, or 8 I.L.M. 679, specifies the structure and rules for treaties.

Bluebook Citations

While it is not the global standard, the Bluebook 20th edition offers treaty citation details through Table 4.