A treaty is defined as "an agreement formally signed, ratified, or adhered to between two nations or sovereigns, or an international agreement concluded between two or more states in written form and governed by international law." Black's Law Dictionary 1640 (9th ed. 2009).
Morris L. Cohen, Robert C. Berring & Kent C. Olson, How to Find the Law 457 (9th ed. 1989) is a great starting point for understanding treaties and treaty research. For example, typical steps in research on a treaty to which the United States is a party include: "(1) finding an authoritative text of the treaty; (2) determining whether it is in force and with what parties and reservations; (3) interpreting the treaty, including its legislative history and judicial interpretation; and (4) verifying and updating its current status."
Jessica R. Alexander, J.D., M.L.S., Reference Librarian
Steps in Treaty Research
- Determine country /countries to research.
If a treaty is between only two countries it is bilateral.
If multiple countries are signatories to a treaty it is multilateral.
Identify subject or popular name of treaty.
- Identify an official source for treaty information, if possible.
- If not yet published in official source, then find unofficial source.
- Find indexes or other finding aids to the source.
- Search index to the source to locate text of treaty.
- Locate source in paper or online.
- Determine whether treaty is still in force.
- Identify case law or legislative history associated with treaty.
Online Treaty Research
Search International Law Databases for Treaty Research
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