Locating Treaties and International Agreements

Originally written by Peggy McDermott, (Former Reference/Resource Librarian at Washington University Law Library), Head of Reference Librarian at St. Louis University Law Library
Updated by Wei Luo, Director of Technical Services and Lecturer in Law, Washington University School of Law

Locating background information and the text of treaties can be difficult and frustrating. The problem stems from the slowness of the publication process. A U.S. treaty or international agreement, for example, may not be published by the Department of State as a TIAS pamphlet until five years after entry into force. Fortunately commercial publishers have begun to make the texts available shortly after their release or ratification. Most of the indexes permit you to locate the treaty if you know the subject, the parties involved, or important dates in the ratification procedure. This bibliography is intended to provide a starting point in treaty research and is not an exhaustive list of sources. 

1. If you have a citation and the United States is a party to the treaty or agreement try:


Consolidated Treaties and International Agreements.
Current Document Service -United States. Dobbs Ferry, N.Y.: Oceana Publications, Inc., 1991- date.(Gov. Docs. S 9.16x:) Abbreviation- CTIA

This is a continuation of the Consolidated Treaties Series (CTS) which includes agreements from 1648 to 1919. This series, which began in 1990, includes all executive agreements and formal treaties to which the United States is a party. The forward indicates they try to include treaties and agreements within ninety days of release or ratification. There are indexes by country, topic, a multilateral agreement index, and a list of treaties cited in subsequent treaties and agreements.


Treaties and other International Acts Series. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Govt. Print. Off. (Gov. Docs.- File Cabinet) Abbreviation -TIAS

This series serves as a supplement to United States Treaties and International Agreements (UST). Treaties appear officially for the first time in 'slip form' that eventually will be included in the bound UST series.


United States Treaties and other International Agreements. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Govt. Print. Off., 1950 - date . (Gov. Docs. S 9.12:) Abbreviation- UST

This is the official series for United States treaties since 1950. Each volume has its own index by subject and country.


United States Statutes at Large. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Govt. Print. Off., 1789-date. (Federal Statutes- Stack 56) Abbreviation- STAT

From 1789 through 1949 treaties appeared regularly in volumes of the Statutes at Large. From 1950 to the present they may be found in United States Treaties and other International Agreements (UST). .


Bevans, Charles, compiler. Treaties and other International Agreements of the United States of America, 1776-1949. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Govt. Print. Off., 1968-1976.(Gov. Docs. S9.12/2:)

'Bevans' contains the English-language text of United States treaties from 1776-1949. The first four volumes contain multilateral treaties arranged chronologically, and the remaining volumes have bilateral treaties arranged by country. The last volume includes an index by country and subject.


Miller, Hunter. Treaties and other International Acts of the United States of America. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Govt. Print. Off., 1931-1948. (Gov. Docs. S 9.5/1:)

This series contains texts of treaties from 1776 through 1863. In addition to the treaty, the editor has included various notes and historical references.


Treaties, Conventions, International Acts, Protocols, and Agreements between the United States of America and other powers. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Govt. Print. Off., 1910-1938. (Gov. Docs. Y 1.1/3:61-357.)

Usually referred to as 'Malloy,' this set contains English texts of treaties from 1776 to 1937. It also includes a list of treaties by country and then arranged chronologically.


Foreign Relations of the United States. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Depart. of State, 1932- date.(Gov. Docs. S 1.1:)

This set, prepared by the Department of State, is a collection of official documents dealing with all aspects of U.S. foreign relations. Because of the time lag, current sources such as the U.S. Department of State Dispatch may be more useful in locating information on recent treaties.


Hein's United States Treaties and other International Agreements Current Microfiche Service. Buffalo, N.Y.: W.S. Hein, 1990 - date. (Microfiche JX 231/H 44.)

This service provides access to the texts of treaties and agreements not yet published by the Department of State. It also includes the most recent documents from TIAS. Updated bimonthly, the microfiche set covers from 1990 to date.

2. If you have a citation and the United States is not a party to the treaty or agreement try:


Consolidated Treaty Series. Edited and annotated by Clive Parry. Dobbs Ferry, N.Y.: Oceana Publications, 1969-1986. (JX 120/ P35). Abbreviation- CTS

This series provides the text of treaties from 1648 to 1919. The text of the treaty is printed in the language of one of the signatories and is frequently accompanied by a French or English translation. There is indexing by date and party.


European Conventions and Agreements. Strasbourg: Council of Europe, 1971-date .(JX 626/ 1971/ C 68).

This publication contains the texts of international treaties concluded with the Council of Europe.


Consolidated Treaties and International Agreements.
Current Document Service -European Community. Dobbs Ferry, N.Y.: Oceana Publications, 1991- date . (JX 626/1991/C 68). Abbreviation-CTI

This service contains the text of agreements entered into by the European Community and other countries and organizations. There is indexing by country and topic.


League of Nations Treaty Series: Publications of Treaties and International Engagements Registered with the Secretariat of the League. London: Harrison and Sons, 1920-1946. (JX 170/ L 4). Abbreviation- LNTS.

This series contains treaties between members of the League or between members and nonmembers. English and French translations are provided along with the official text. Treaties are indexed chronologically and by subject.


United Nations Treaty Series. Recueil des Traites. New York: United Nations, 1947- date. (JX 170/U 35) Abbreviation - UNTS.

This series contains treaties and international agreements entered into by any member of the United Nations. Treaties appear in their official language as well as English and French. Indexes arranged by date, country, and subject are published for every fifty volumes of the series.


International Legal Materials. Washington, D.C.: American Society of International Law, 1962-date. (Bound and current periodicals) Abbreviation- ILM

This bimonthly periodical contains the texts of major treaties and drafts of proposed treaties. An excellent source for recent treaties before they become available in other publications. The recent actions regarding treaties sections from January,1980 to the present are available on Lexis.


United Kingdom Treaty Series. Dobbs Ferry, N.Y.: Trans-media, 1979. (Microfilm JX 636/ 1979) Abbreviation- UKTS

This microfilm set contains United Kingdom treaties from 1892 to 1985.


British and Foreign State Papers. London, Eng.: H.M. Sta. Off., 1841-1968. (Microfilm JX 103/G 73) Abbreviation- BFSP

This microfilm set includes treaties from 1812 through 1968.

**If you do not have a citation but you know the subject, parties to the agreement, or the date, and the United States is a party try:


Kavass, Igor (compiler). United States Treaty Index : 1776-1990 Consolidation. Buffalo, N.Y.: W.S. Hein, 1991. (Gov. Docs. S 9.11/4x: )

A comprehensive index to U.S. treaties and agreements from 1776 through 1990. The index includes a numerically arranged guide containing descriptions of each treaty and agreement, as well as both country and subject indexes.


Kavass, Igor & Adolf Sprudzs. Current Treaty Index. Buffalo, N.Y.: Buffalo, N.Y.: W.S. Hein, 1982-date. (Gov. Docs. S 9.11/5x:)

This is a companion service to the United States Treaty Index: 1776 - 1990 Consolidation. Published twice a year, it provides information on the status of United States treaties and agreements. Indexing includes a chronological index, country index, subject index, and a geographical/subject index.


Kavass, Igor & Adolf Sprudzs. A Guide to the United States Treaties in Force. Buffalo, N.Y.: W.S. Hein, 1982- date .(Gov. Docs. S 9.15x:)

This annual index contains a numerical list of all treaties in force, and a subject index covering both bilateral and multilateral treaties. Part II contains a numerical list of multilateral treaties and agreements as well as a chronological index, and a directory of countries and international organizations.


Treaties in Force. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Govt. Print. Off., 1959- date. (Gov. Docs. S 9.14:)

This annual index from the Department of State lists both bilateral and multilateral U.S. treaties and agreements which were in force as of January 1st of each year. Part 1 lists bilateral treaties alphabetically by country and then by subject. Part 2 lists multilateral treaties by subject.

3. If you do not have a citation but you know the subject, parties to the agreement, or the date, and the United States is not a party try:


Bowman, M.J. and D.J. Harris. Multilateral Treaties: index and current status. London: Butterworths, 1984. (JX 171/M 84.)

This source summarizes over a thousand multilateral agreements and provides information on their status. Unfortunately the most recent supplement only updates status information to January 1,1988. Indexing is by subject and keyword.


Index to Multilateral Treaties: a Chronological List of Multi party International Agreements from the Sixteenth Century through 1963. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Law School Library. Distributed by Oceana Publications, Dobbs Ferry, N.Y., 1965.(JX 171/ H 35).

A comprehensive index to multilateral treaties by subject and country. Unfortunately this volume only covers treaties through December 31,1963.


Rohr, Peter H. World Treaty Index. 2nd ed. SantaBarbara, Calif.: ABC-Clio, Inc., 1983. (JX 171/ R 6/1983).

This index provides information about treaties from 1900 to 1980. The entry gives citations to various series in which the text of the treaty may be located. Volume 5 of the set contains an index by keyword.

4. If you have a Popular Name for a treaty or international agreement and the United States is a party try:


Shepard's Acts and Cases by Popular Names: Federal and State. 4th ed. Colorado Springs, Colo.: ShepardÕs/McGraw-Hill, 1992. (Kf 90/S 52/ 1992)

Lists major U.S. treaties by popular name and provides the official citation.

5. If you have a Popular Name for a treaty or international agreement and the United States is not a party try:


Bowman, M.J. and D.J. Harris. Multilateral Treaties: Index and Current Status. London: Butterworths, 1984. (JX 171/M 84)

The word index may be useful in locating a treaty by keywords in the name.


Rohr, Peter H. World Treaty Index. 2nd ed., Santa Barbara, Calif.: ABC- Clio, Inc., 1983.
(JX 171/R 6/1983).

6. What about Lexis, Westlaw, and other computer-assisted services?

LEXIS-On Lexis try:

International Law Library (INTLAW) contains:

  1. ECTY File- European Treaties and Agreements contained in Basic Documents of International Economic Law.
  2. BDIEL File- Basic Documents of International Economic Law, topic areas include: regulation of international finance, foreign investment, instruments governing private commercial transactions, international litigation, international arbitration, protection of intellectual property rights and regional economic organizations.
  3. DSTATE File- Department of State Dispatch from September, 1990 and the Department of State Bulletin from January, 1984 to December, 1989.
  4. ILMTY File - International Legal Materials : treaties, agreements, and the recent actions regarding treaties sections from January, 1980 to the present.
  5. TREATY File - United States tax treaties.

WESTLAW-On Westlaw try:

  1. CELEX-TRTY database-European Community treaties from July, 1979.
  2. USTREATIES database-United States Treaties and Other International Agreements from June, 1979 to the present.
  3. IEL database - International Economic Law Documents

You might also try--


Oceana's TIARA™ U.S. Treaties Index

This is the most comprehensive U.S. Treaties Index available. Updated monthly. We subscribes to it. To access it, go to the law library homepage, select Electronic Databases, then select "TIARA US Treaties Index.


HEIN's Treaty Index on CD-ROM

This is a CD-ROM index to international treaties and agreements the United States has entered into from 1776 to date. For assistance in using this index please consult one of the Reference Librarians.


LegalTrac and Index to Legal Periodicals

These two electronic indexes to legal periodicals may prove valuable in locating articles which discuss a particular treaty and which will provide either an official or unofficial citation to its text.