LEGAL RESEARCH GUIDE SERIES
BASIC RESEARCH GUIDE #7

A GUIDE TO TREATY RESEARCH

THE GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY
NATIONAL LAW CENTER
JACOB BURNS LAW LIBRARY

I. Treaty Research ­ Introduction

This guide describes selected treaty indexes and finding tools as well as sources of treaty texts available in the Jacob Burns Law Library. Included are resources in paper, microfiche, CD­ROM, and online databases available through LEXIS and WESTLAW.

A. Basics of U.S. Treaty Research

For agreements to which the United States is a party, Treaties in Force (TIF) is the most common starting point. It provides references to various official treaty text compilations, such as Treaties and Other International Acts Series (IIAS) and United States Treaties and Other International Agreements (UST), required for proper citations. Bilateral and multilateral treaties are covered in separate sections. Subject indexing is provided by TIF but is not always adequate, particularly for locating multilateral agreements. Hein's U.S. Treaty Index on CD­ROM provides more thorough indexing of the information in TIF. This CD­ROM index may also provide information about treaties not yet included in TIF as well as treaties no longer listed in TIF because they have gone out of force. The CD­ROM index also may provide citations to additional sources of treaty texts, such as Senate documents.

B. Publication Delays

The most frustrating part of treaty research is the severe delay in publication of treaty texts in official publications. Publication of new U.S. treaties in the official TIAS pamphlets and the bound UST set lags by years. A listing in Treaties in Force with the designation "TIAS" but no number reflects this severe publication delay. In some cases Senate documents may provide an interim alternative, but usually one must blrn tt) an unofficial sollrce to find the text

C. Unofficial Sources

One of the best and most highly regarded unofficial sources is International Legal Materials aLM) from the American Society of International Law. ILM is a bimonthly journal that provides selected texts of documents of interest to international law, including many treaties. Access to ILM is also available for recent years through LEXIS as the ILM file in the INTLAW library. For U.S. treaties, another source of recent treaty texts is Hein's United States Treaties and Other International Agreements ­ Current Microfiche Service. The above­mentioned CD­ROM index from Hein includes indexing information for the microfiche set.

D. Worldwide Treaties

For coverage of multilateral treaties on a worldwide basis, Multilateral Treaties: Index and Current Status by Bowman and Harris is usually the best index. The Bowman and Harris index excels in giving references not only to the United Nations Treaty Series (UNTS) but to many other sets as well. The United Nations' own annual Multilateral Treaties Deposited with the Secretary­General is a good second choice. These two indexes are limited to multilateral agreements. Recent bilateral treaties not involving the United States are much more difficult to identify and to locate. The UNTS is the primary source for these, but the UNTS lags by as much as ten years, and the indexes to UNTS are even more delayed. There are some specialized sources, such as the Worldwide Tax Treaty Index and Tax Notes International (available as a LEXIS database), that do provide current information.

E. Further Assistance

For recent agreements to which the U.S. is a party and which are not available elsewhere, it may be possible to obtain assistance by telephone from the Treaty Affairs Staff in the Legal Advisor's Office of the U.S. Department of State (202 647­2044). For current information on treaties regardless of U.S. participation, assistance may be available from the Treaty Section of the Office of Legal Affairs of the United Nations in New York (212­963­5048, 212­963­7958). The assistance these offices can provide is limited, and they should be consulted only after all other sources have been exhausted. Reference librarians in the Burns Law Library can provide assistance in using the resources described in this guide and in recommending additional research strategies for treaty research.

II. Treaty Indexes and Finding Tools

A. Most Frequently Used Indexes

  • Treaties in Force: A List of Treaties and Other International Agreements of the United States in Force on January 1.... Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1956­ . [Location: Latest on Reserve JX 236 1929c]

    Abbreviation: TIF

    This annual publication is the official U.S. Department of State listing of agreements in Force. Bilateral treaties are arranged by country and then by subject headings under each country. Multilateral treaties appear in a separate section and are arranged by subject headings. In all instances, only treaties to which the U.S. is a party are included.

    A new edition usually appears around August of each year, which means the information is from 8 to 20 months old. Citations are given to official sources of treaty texts, but treaties from recent years may have only a "TIASw designation without a number, indicating that the treaty has not yet been published in an official source.

  • Hein's U.S. Treaty Index on CD­ROM. Buffalo, N.Y.: William S. Hein, 1993­ . [Location: CD­ROM Network; User's Guide Reserve JX 236.5 .H45] This CD­ROM index provides the advantages of computerized searching in locating information contained in Treaties in Force as well as information on both newer agreements not yet in TIF and older treaties that have gone out of force.

    There are many more access points in this database than in the printed TIF. Searchable field include not only titles and subject headings but also dates, treaty numbers, and country names. In addition, there are links that allow one to go directly to information about a document referenced in the entry being viewed.

    In addition to providing citations to official sets such as TIAS and UST, it also provides unofficial KAV numbers keyed to Hein's U.S. Treaties and Other International Agreements ­ Current Microfiche Service. Additional citations may also be provided to U.S. Senate documents and to International Legal Materials.

    Updates of the index are planned, but an exact schedule has not been established. A slow updating schedule may mean that at times there is a more recent edition of Treaties in Force available than the edition to which the CD­ROM index refers.

    Search commands use West's PREMISE software with commands similar to WESTLAW. Use PREMISE guides or keyboard templates to assist in getting started and for advanced searching features.

  • Bowman, M.J. and D.J. Harris. Multilateral Treaties: Index and Current Status. London: Butterworths, 1984­ . [Location: Reserve and Ready Reference JX 171 .M84 & Suppl.] For multilateral treaties throughout the world, this is the first choice for citation and status information. Citations are given to multiple official and unofficial sources, with detailed information about dates, signatories, and parties.

    Subject and key word access is provided but is frequently not adequate. Treaties are listed chronologically, so knowing an approximate date may provide access when other approaches fail. Use the latest cumulative supplement to locate new agreements and to update information on agreements listed in the main volume.

  • Multilateral Treaties Deposited with the Secretary General: Status as at 31 December.... New York: United Nations, 1968­ . [Location: Latest on Reserve JX 170 .U54a] This is an annual index to multilateral treaties deposited with the United Nations. Citations are given to the official United Nations Treaty Series (UNTS) if available. If no UNTS citations are available, references are given to other United Nations documents.

    Subject access by broad categories is provided but is not always adequate. While treaty texts are not included, the texts of reservations are included. Detailed information about date of entry into force and list of participants is given.

B. Additional Finding Tools for Current Treaty Actions

  • U.S. Department of State Dispatch. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of State, 1990­ . [Location: Reserve and SL1] Online: LEXIS (INTLAW Library/DSTATE File)

    One issue each month of this weekly State Department publication includes a "Treaty Actions" section. This lists new bilateral treaties for the U.S., as well as actions on multilateral treaties by other countries if the U.S. has signed the agreement.

    A serious limitation is that usually no source is cited for the treaty text. There are no cumulations, but online availability through LEXIS alleviates that problem. This publication replaces the earlier Department of State Bulletin.

  • International Legal Materials. Washington, D.C.: American Society of International Law, 1962­ . [Location: Reserve and K 9 .N75] Abbreviation: ILM Online: LEXIS (INTLAW Library/ILM File); WESTLAW (ILM)

    Although the primary purpose of this bimonthly publication is to reproduce selected document texts, it does also include listings of recent treaty actions. One part reproduces treaty action information from the Dispatch (see above), and there is additional information on selected treaty actions to which the U.S. is not a party.

  • Kavass, Igor. Current Treaty Index. Buffalo, N.Y.: William S. Hein, 1982­ . [Location: Latest on Reserve JX 233 .A343] This index provides additional indexing for agreements newly added to the official TIAS set as well as information about agreements not yet published in TIAS. For the latter, references are given to "KAV" numbers, which are useful in locating texts in Hein's U.S. Treaties and Other International Agreements ­ Current Microfiche Service. (Microfiche Set 118). This index also serves as a supplement to the retrospective United States Treatv Index: 1776­1990 Consolidation (JX 231 .U58 1991). The scope and arrangement of the Current Treaty Index may change in the future as Hein's U.S. Treaty Index on CD­ROM provides more powerful indexing of similar information.

  • Chart Showing Signatures and Ratifications of conventions and Agreements Concluded within the Council of Europe. Strasbourg: Council of Europe. [Location: KJC 39 .C683] This is a detailed chart, issued in loose­leaf format, of the status of agreements in the European Treaty Series (ETS). It also includes texts of reservations, but not the text of the agreements themselves.

C. Other Retrospective Treaty Indexes

  • Kavass, Igor. United States Treaty Index: 1776­1990 Consolidation (with Supplements). Buffalo, N.Y.: William S. Hein, 1991­ . [Location: JX 231 .U58 1991] This cumulated index provides chronological, country, and subject indexes for U.S. treaties. For the most recent supplementation, use the Current Treaty Index (see above).

  • United Nations Treaty Series ­ Cumulative Indexes. New York: United Nations, 1946­ . [Location: JX 170 .U53 and Microfiche 116] These index volumes are shelved with the main United Nations Treaty Series volumes. The index volumes each cover about 50 volumes of the set, but they do not provide any master cumulation to the entire set. Publication lags by as much as 15 years.

  • League of Nations Treaty Series ­ General Index. Geneva: League of Nations, 1920­1946. [Location: JX 170 .L4 Index] Each index volume covers a span of several years between 1920 and 1946. There is no sinale cumulation available. Subject, country, and chronological access is provided.

  • Inter­American Treaties and Conventions. Washington, D.C.: Organization of American States, 1989. [Location: Reserve KDZ 10 .T74 no. 9 1985] This OAS publication provides information about signatures, ratifications, etc. for inter­ American treaties. While no texts of treaties are included, the texts of reservations are given. Arrangement is by categories, but there is a brief subject index. The Burns Law Library does not own the OAS Treaty Series that is cited for most of the agreements listed here.

  • Rohn, Peter. World Treaty Index. 2nd ed. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC­CLIO, 1983­1984. [Location: JX 1171 . R63 1983] This multi­volume index covers bilateral and multilateral treaties between 1900 and 1980. There is detailed indexing by parties and keywords, and citations to multiple treaty sources are given, including many national treaty series. No updating is planned.

  • Worldwide Tax Treaty Index. Arlington, VA: Tax Analysts, 1993. [Location: Reserve KF 6306 .A1 W61 Part I provides worldwide coverage, with citations to texts in the Tax Notes International (TNI) file in LEXIS. Part II offers more detailed information on U.S. tax treaties, with citations not only to TNI but also to official sources such as TIAS and UST, as well as Senate Treaty Documents and legislative history materials.

III. Sources of Treaty Texts

A. United States Treaty Texts

  • Treaties and Other International Acts Series. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Of fice, 1946­ . [Location: JX 231 .A341] Abbreviation: TIAS

    TIAS is the pamphlet set that is the first official publication of U.S. treaties and other international agreements. Each treaty is assigned a unique number (e.g. TIAS 10345). Delays in publication are considerable, often as much as five years. TIAS pamphlets are eventually republished in the bound UST set (see next item).

  • United States Treaties and Other International Ayreements. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of State, 1952­ . [Location: JX 231 . A34] Abbreviation: UST

    Since 1950, this is the official bound version of U.S. treaties and agreements. TIAS pamphlets (see previous item) are eventually republished here, with the original TIAS number for each treaty retained. As with the TIAS, publication is delayed by years.

  • Bevans, Charles. Treaties and Other International Agreements of the United States of America, 1776­1949. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of State, 1968­1976. [Location: JX 236 1968 .A5] Abbreviation: Bevans

    Bevans' set is considered a definitive compilation of U.S. treaties before 1950. It usually eliminates the need to consult Statutes at Large for treaty texts, although the texts in the latter are considered authoritative. Multilateral treaty texts are reproduced in volumes 1­4, bilateral treaties in volumes 5­12, and volume 13 is an index.

  • United States Senate. Senate Treaty Documents and Senate Executive Reports. [Locatlon: U.S. Serial Set and CIS Microfiche Set 110] For U.S. treaties requiring the advice and consent of the Senate, the text of the treaty appears in the Senate Treaty Document series (known before 1981 as Senate Executive Documents). Many agreements are in fact not submitted to the Senate, but for those that are, Senate Treaty Documents are one source of treaty texts when other sources, such as TIAS, are not yet available.

    Additional information about a treaty may be found in reports issued by the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations; these are issued as Senate Executive Reports. Both Treaty Documents and Executive Reports are indexed by the CIS Index to U.S. Congressional Publications and by the Congressionai Index.

    For historical research, keep in mind that before 1930 these types of documents were confidential. Between 1930 and 1980, although no longer confidential, they were not included in the Congressional Series Set. These historical documents have been compiled in a microfiche collection called Senate Executive Documents and Reports (Microfiche 102), which covers the period from 1817 to 1969. This set is accompanied by a two­ volume index called CIS Index to US Senate Executive Documents and Reports.

  • Kavass, Igor. Hein=s United States Treaties and Other International Agreements - Current Microfiche Service. Buffalo, N.Y.: William S. Hein, 1990­ .[Location: Microfiche 118]

    This unofficial compilation is designed to fill the gap left by the long delays in publication of the official TIAS set. The service is available on microfiche only.

    Texts include both treaties requiring the advice and consent of the Senate and also executive agreements not submitted to the Senate. There are cumulative tables of contents and subject indexes in paper format, but the Hein's U.S Treaty Index on CD­ ROM often provides the quickest access to this set. Many agreements included in the set do not have a TIAS number assigned to them yet, so the service uses its own KAV numbers (e.g. KAV 345) named after the editor, Igor Kavass. Such KAV numbers are accepted by The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation if other citations are not available (see Rule 20.4.5c).

  • USTREATIES Database.

    Online: WESTLAW (USTREATIES)

    This database offers the full text of U.S. treaties and international agreements since June 1979 (TIAS 10869 forward). It includes agreements not yet published in TIAS, in which case it also provides a KAV number (see item directly above). There are gaps in coverage, particularly for certain multilateral treaties.

  • Federal Register. Washington, D.C.: Office of the Federal Register, 1936­ . [Location: Reserve and Government Documents] Abbreviation: FR

    Although normally the Federal Register is not a source for texts of international agreements, occasionally they may appear here. For example, certain Food and Drug Administration agreements with other counties are included. In rare instances, a treaty has been published here as well.

  • United States Statutes at Large. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1846­. [Location: Government Documents; 2nd Floor Reading Room; Microfiche 40] Abbreviation: STAT

    Before the bound UST set was started in 1950, Statutes at Large included texts of treaties. Check volume 8 for treaties from the years 1776­1845. Indian treaties are found in volume 7. Later treaties are covered in sessional volumes. Executive agreements are included in volumes 47­64. For indexing, check volume 64, part 3 (1950­51).

  • Wiktor, Christian L. Unperfected Treaties of the United States of America. 1776­1976. Dobbs Ferre N.Y.: Oceana 1976­1981. [Location: JX 236 1776 .U561 The texts of almost 400 multilateral and bilateral treaties "which have been signed on the part of the United States, or have been submitted to the Senate, but which have, for one reason or another, definitely failed to go into force" are included in this multivolume set. Treaties still pending at the time the set was published were not included. There have not been any supplements.

B. Worldwide Treaty Text

  • United Nations Treaty Series. New York: United Nations, 1946­ . [Location: JX 170 .U35 for volumes 801­ and Microfiche 116 for volumes 1­800] Abbreviations: UNTS

    This is the primary official set for texts of multilateral and bilateral agreements on a worldwide basis. Although U.N. treaties do have a registration number, these numbers are not used for location and citation purposes in the way TIAS numbers are used for U.S. treaties. Citations are made to volume and page number (e.g. 678 UNTS 345).

    In spite of the intended inclusiveness of this set, not all agreements are published in UNTS. The biggest problem, however, is the publication delay of some 10 years. Cumulative indexes covering a span of volumes are published with about a 15 year delay; there is no master cumulation of the indexes

  • League of Nations Treaty Series. Geneva: League of Nations, 1920­1946. [Location: JX 170.L41 Abbreviation: LNTS

    As predecessor of the UNTS, this set provides texts of treaties from 1920 to 1945. Index volumes are available with the set but without an overall cumulation.

  • Parry, Clive. Consolidated Treaty Series. Dobbs Ferry, N.Y.: Oceana, 1969­1981. [Location: JX 120 .P35] Abbreviation: CTS or Consol. T.S.

    This is the major compilation of treaties on a worldwide basis from 1648 to 1919. lt thus provides coverage for the period before the League of Nations and the United Nations began their sets, but note that CTS is an unofficial publication. There are no subject indexes ­ only chronological and party indexes. (Note that this set is entirely different from the Consolidated Treaties and International Agreements or CTIA set of recent U.S. treaties from the same publisher. The Library does not own CTIA.)

  • International Legal Materials. Washington, D.C.: American Society of International Law, 1962­ . tLocation: Current on Reserve and K 9 .N75] Abbreviation: ILM Online: LEXIS (INTLAW Library/ILM File); WESTLAW (ILM)

    ILM is one of the most important publications available for research in international law. It should always be considered as a possible source of treaty texts, regardless of whether the U.S. is a party or not. While multilateral agreements are more likely to appear, bilateral agreements may be included as well.

    ILM appears as a monthly journal. Its particular strength is timely publication of selected documents, much in contrast to various official sources. In addition to the text, explanatory material is often added.

  • European Conventions and Agreements. Strasbourg: Council of Europe, 1971­ . tLocation: KJC 39 .C68 1971 & 1993]
  • European Treaty Series. Strasbourg: Council of Europe. tLocation: Current on Reserve and KJC 39 .C682] Abbreviation: ETS

    Texts in English and French of international agreements concluded within the Council of Europe are included in these sets. New agreements are initially published as separate pamphlets in the official European Treaty Series, each with its own ETS number. The Burns Law Library has only recent agreements in the ETS pamphlet format.

    European Conventions and Agreements is the bound compilation of ETS agreements. Although according to the Council of Europe it is the ETS pamphlets rather than this bound set that provides the official publication, the bound sets are more convenient to use, and they do preserve the original ETS numbering. A separate subject index volume covers only volumes 1 and 2 of the first edition.

    The Chart of Signatures and Ratifications of European Treaties (KJC 39 .C683 1988), issued several times a year, gives updated information about ETS agreements.

  • Sohn, Louis and Manley O. Hudson. International Legislation. New York: Carnegie, 1931­ 1950. [Location: JX 171 .H8] This nine volume compilation provides texts of over 600 "multipartite international instruments of general interest" from the period 1919 to 1949. Arrangement is chronological but subject access is provided. One unique feature of the set is inclusion of some agreements that were never brought into force.

C. Selected Subject Compilations of Treaty Texts

  • Zamora, Stephen and Ronald Brand. Basic Documents on International Economic Law. Chicago: CCH, 1990. [Location: Reserve K 3820 .A35 B37 1990]

    Online: LEXIS (INTLAW Library/BDIEL FILE); WESTLAW (IEL)

    Texts of documents considered basic to the study of international economic law are reproduced in this two­volume compilation. Many of these documents are treaties and conventions related to international finance and trade, regional organizations, international litigation, etc. For each document there is additional explanatory material and a bibliography. Another useful feature is a chapter "Treaty Research for Practitioners in the United States." Indexing is limited to a table of contents.

  • Copyright Laws and Treaties of the World. Paris: UNESCO and BNA, 1956­ . [Locatlon: K 1419.2 1956] This loose­leaf service provides a compilation in English of copyright laws and treaties from throughout the world. Arrangement is by country, with a separate section for multilateral agreements.

  • Industrial Proserty Law and Treaties. Geneva: World Intellectual Property Organization, 1978­ . [Location: K 1500 .A48 1978] This multi­volume loose­leaf provides texts of both bilateral and multilateral agreements.

  • Tax Notes International. Arlington, VA: Tax Analysts, 1989­ . [Location: Reserve and Open Reserve K 4456.2 .T12] Abbreviation: TNI

    Online: LEXIS (INTLAW Library/TNI File)

    For income tax, estate and gift tax treaties between the U.S. and other countries, TNI offers not only the text of the treaty but other supplementary documents such as Senate Treaty Documents, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Reports, Treasury News Releases, etc. Treaties between other countries usually offer the text of the treaty. For additional indexing, see the World wide Tax Treaty Index (Reserve KF 6306 .A1 W6, 1st floor).

  • IBFDTR Database Online: LEXIS (INLAW Library/IBFDTR File)

    This database from the International Bureau of Fiscal Documentation contains text of tax treaties since 1949, both for those to which the U.S. is a party as well as others. It also includes some agreements not vet in force and some that have been terminated.

IV. Further Reading on Treaty Research

  • United States Senate. Committee on Foreign Relations. Treaties and Other International Agreements: the Role of the United States Senate. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1993. [Location: Reserve and SL3 KF 4989 .A25 1993] This Congressional Research Service study, published for the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, is an excellent, detailed study of the U.S. treaty process. Included is a good discussion of the distinction between treaties and executive agreements. There is also an extensive annotated bibliography with many valuable suggestions for further study of the subject.

  • Nash, Marian L. "Treaty Research Guide," in Basic Documents of International Economic Law. Chicago: CCH. 1990. [Location: Reserve K 3820 .A35 1990]
    A brief chapter, found on pages xv ­ xxi of volume 1, provides an excellent review of the treaty process and basic research tools. It includes some key addresses, phone numbers, and recommendations for further reading.

  • Kavass, Igor. "Treaty Research Guide," in Hein's U.S. Treaty Index on CD­ROM. Buffalo,

    N.Y.: William S. Hein, 1993­ . [Location: CD­ROM Network]

    One of the supplementary features of this index is a chapter on treaty research by noted expert Igor Kavass. The research guide appears as a document (pages 19­40) on the CD ROM, and it can be printed or downloaded to disk as a WordPerfect 5.1 document.

Paul Zarins
International and Foreign Law Librarian
July 1995

 

 

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