This guide is intended to help legal researchers find treaties. Because there is no single one-stop repository for all treaties, treaty research requires an understanding of what treaties are and what types of treaties are covered by the various finding aids and full-text sources available to you.
Treaty citations and short form abbreviations in this guide are intended for US legal researchers interested in publishing in the United States, and are governed by Rule 21.4 of the Bluebook.
A treaty is an agreement between two or more nations. Treaties may be referred to by other names (e.g., accords, agreements, charters, covenants, conventions, pacts, and protocols), but the choice of name holds no legal significance in international law.
Treaties are often categorized as bilateral (between just two countries) or multilateral (between three or more countries). Understanding these categories and the following terms will help guide your treaty research:
The UN Treaty Collection also offers a helpful Glossary for treaty-related terminology.
If you are unfamiliar with treaty law and would like further context, we recommend the following secondary sources.
For an introductory overview of treaties and treaty law:
For more in-depth treaty law coverage:
To quickly find the text of a treaty, ask yourself the following two questions:
If you are unsure of the answers to the above questions or if you cannot locate your treaty using the resources provided in the above sections, you can also try finding treaties by topic.
If you are researching pre-1949 treaties that are no longer in force, please read our Guide to Researching Historical Treaties.