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International Documents

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Treaties and Other International Agreements

Guide to Government Publications Series



International agreements entered into by two or more states are frequently described as "treaties". Other terms used to describe multilateral international agreements include convention, agreement, pact, accord, protocol, final act, general act, and declaration. They may be bilateral or multilateral. Executive agreements are agreements made between the President and the executive of another country that do not require Senate approval.

Information on treaties and international agreements can be found in several sources depending upon the nature of the treaty (date, number of parties, whether or not the United States is a party). The following guide to treaty research at Stanford describes the most important treaty sources in both the Jonsson and Law Libraries, as well as online resources available via Folio and the Internet.




12. International Legal Materials (ILM)
ILM is a bi-monthly publication that began in 1962. It provides timely access to current documents concerning international relations. The texts of official foreign and US international agreements and other documents are reprinted along with useful background notes. Each issue has its own index and each November issue contains an annual index. Cumulative indexes covering a range of years are published occasionally. Available electronically via Folio/Lexis.

13. United Nations Treaty Series (UNTS)
United Nations Treaty Series (UNTS) Green-Int'l Documents ST/LEG/Treaties (shelved at Stanford Auxiliary Library 3) This comprehensive treaty series began in 1946 and contains the text of all treaties registered or filed with the UN Secretariat by member states or international organizations and some filed by nonmember states. Texts are given in their official languages and in English and French. There is currently a significant delay in publication of treaties in UNTS. Under a 1978 Resolution the Secretariat may selectively exclude treaties of "limited interest" from publication in UNTS. They are however included in the UN's Statement of Treaties and International Agreements Registered or Filed with the Secretariat, and are marked by an asterisk. Indexes are provided every fifty volumes, however there is considerable delay in their publication.

The entire series is full-text searchable at the United Nations Treaty Collection. The database includes Status of Multilateral Treaties Deposited with the Secretary-General, United Nations Treaty Series (December 1946 - present), League of Nations Treaty Series (5 July 1920 - 3 October 944), Monthly Statements of treaties and International Agreements, United Nations Treaty Series Cumulative Index and several other publications to aid in the research of bilateral and multilateral treaties.

14. League of Nations Treaty Series (LNTS)
Contains treaties of the League's members registered with the League's Secretariat. English and French translations accompany reprints of the official texts. Each volume has its own index. Cumulative indexes covering 3 or more years each are also provided and are shelved in the Government Documents International section as ST/LEG/Treaties/Cum. LNTS is also indexed by: nos. 20,22,and 24.

15. Consolidated Treaty Series (CTS)
Coverage in this 243 volume set begins in 1648 and continues to 1920. Treaty text is reprinted in the language of one of the signatories and often accompanied by a French or English translation or summary. The set has a chronological list and party name index but no subject index. CTS is also indexed by nos. 20,22, and 24.


  • US Treaty Collections

    For recent or pending United States treaties, consult the CCH Congressional Index (#1), the U.S. State Department's Weekly Dispatch (#2) , International Legal Materials (#12),and the Calendar of the United States House of Representatives and History of Legislation (J47 A3 Reading Room). The Calendar is published daily and cumulates each Congressional session and contains a complete status table for pending treaties.

    16. United States Current Treaty Index (Hein)
    LAW Mtxt Area XF443
    This is the index to the Hein's United States Treaties and Other International Agreements Current Microfiche Service (#3). It updates Hein's, United States Treaty Index: 1776-1990 Consolidation (#17) below. It also merges two earlier Hein indexes: Current Treaty Index (Law FN FUV RGD CURR SERV) and United States International Treaties Today: Unpublished and Unnumbered Treaties Index (Law FH FUV RHA). The "Table of Contents" section lists treaties numerically by "KAV" numbers assigned to each treaty. Each entry provides a short description of the treaty and other useful information such as pertinent dates. There is also a subject index.

    17. United States Treaty Index 1776-1990 Consolidation
    Law Reference FN FUV RGc
    Convenient and thorough access to US treaties from 1776- 1990.

    18. Treaties In Force. (TIF)
    Green Federal Documents S 9.14:
    Issued annually by the US State Department this index lists US treaties and agreements in force as of January 1 of each year. Arranged in two parts, the first part lists bilateral treaties by country and then by subject; the second part lists multilaies by subject and indicates the parties. TIF can be updated by checking the "treaty actions" section that appears every 4-6 weeks in the U.S. Department of State Dispatch (#2).

  • International Treaties

    For recent or pending international treaties, use International Legal Materials (#12) Law Lib. FN CIP XA. ILM has its own index in each issue and an annual issue in each November issue. ILM is also indexed in PAIS (Moffitt, General Reference and several other library locations) and in Current Law Index VE CZ FS at the Law Library.

    19. Multilateral Treaties: Index and Current Status
    Green SSRC Reading Room JX 171 M8 and Law Reference FN YBR WLM
    This is one of the most comprehensive and current indexes for multilateral treaties. The main index volume has a chronological list of treaties with entries that give detailed status and other valuable information. The main index volume also features a subject index and keyword index. The supplement is arranged in two parts. Part A is a chronological list of new treaties with full entries. Part B provides updated status and other information treaties already in the main volume.

    20. United Nations Multilateral Treaties Deposited with the Secretary General
    Green Int'l Documents ST/LEG/SER.E/
    (latest in Government Documents Reference)
    This annual UN publication continues an earlier publication titled Multilateral Treaties in Respect of Which the Secretary- General Performs Depository Function. It provides information on the status of treaties deposited with the UN Secretary- General. Information on treaties deposited with the League of Nations that were transferred to the custody of the UN are covered as well as pre-UN agreements that were amended by UN protocols. The full text of any reservations and declarations are conveniently reprinted. Citations to treaty text in UNTS (#13) or the UN document citation are given. Entries are arranged in subject categories and then listed chronologically. This index is supplemented by Statement of Treaties and International Agreements (#23), a monthly UN publication. The latest edition of Multilateral Treaties Deposited with the Secretary- General is now available as part of the United Nations Treaty Series.

    21. Index to Multilateral Treaties
    JX171 H35 Green SSRC Reading Room (c.1) and Information Center (c.2)
    This is one of the best indexes for finding obscure historical treaties, amendments and drafts. It consists of a chronological list of multilateral treaties from 1596 through 1963. The entries provide citations to the text in a variety of language sources. A subject and regional index are also provided.

    22. Statement of Treaties and International Agreements Registered or Filed with the Secretariat
    Green Int'l Documents ST/LEG/SER.A/
    This monthly UN publication serves as a supplement to Multilateral Treaties Deposited with the Secretary-General (#20). It is the only published listing of all bilateral and multilateral treaties registered or filed with the UN Secretariat. It provides information in English and French concerning original treaties and agreements. It also provides information such as ratifications, accessions and subsequent agreements concerning treaties and agreements already registered or filed with the Secretariat. Each issue has a cumulative subject index and numerical index, (by registration or filing and recording numbers). A major problem with this index is that there is a substantial delay in publication. Therefore it is not a useful source of current information. It is also not as comprehensive as some other indexes because it is based on the submissions of member states.

    23. United Nations Master Treaty Index on CD-ROM
    Green Information Center KX171.U55
    Semiannual publication providing cumulative indexing to the United Nations Treaty Series (no.13). The latest edition covers treaties issued between 1976-1987. Allows searching by: treaty name; countries and organizations that are parties; dates; descriptive text; Kavass subject; etc.

    24. World Treaty Index
    Green SSRC Reading Room JX171.R63 1983
    This is a comprehensive multivolume index to multilateral and bilateral treaties from 1900 to 1980. Citations to treaty texts appearing in LNTS, UNTS and numerous other sources are provided. Volume 1 (Reference Volume) has a helpful "User's Guide" on page 12 of the introduction. A sample entry is reproduced with an explanation of the various categories of information provided. The abbreviations used in the entries are listed and explained in the Thesaurus in volume 1. Volume 2 and 3 contain the main entries in chronological order by date of signature. Volume 4 is an extensive party index arranged in alphabetical order. Volume 5 is a keyword index.


  • U.S. Dept. of State, Office of Treaty Affairs.
    (202) 647-1345

  • UN Office of Treaty Affairs:
    • Multilateral Treaties Deposited with the UN Secretary-General
      (212) 963-3918

    • Treaties not deposited with the Secretary- General but with a Government or Organization.
      (212) 963-7833

  • Guides to Treaty Research:

    Cohen, Morris L., Robert C. Berring and Kent C. Olson. How to Find the Law. 9th ed. 1989. See chapter 15 "International Law" for a good detailed discussion of treaty research including treaty interpretation.

    Jacobstein, Myron J. and Roy M. Mersky. Fundamentals of Legal Research. 5th ed. (199). See chapter 20 "International Law" for a good discussion of treaty research sources.

    Zwrin, Jerrold. Congressional Publications. 1983. JK1067.Z851 1983 Ready Ref. See chapter 11 "United States Treaties" for a good detailed discussion of the treaty making process. Figure 15 on page 160 is a good outline of the "Key Steps and Decision Points in the Life of a Treaty".

    "Post-World War II Treaty Research Sources, Finding Tools and Status Information Sources", Debora Cheney, Government Publications Review, Vol. 12, pp. 1-23, 1985. A bit dated but still a good discussion of the sources covered. Many of the specialized subject sources listed in section IV above are discussed in more detail in this article.

    "Research tips in International Law", John W. Williams, George Washington Journal of International Law and Economics, vol. 20, pp. 1- 403, 1986.

    "Researching treaty information: an annotated guide to key reference sources", Miller, RQ, vol. 25, pp. 204, 1985.


Listed below are some of the commonly used abbreviations. Click on the item to move to see the full bibliographic description.


Last modified: June 25, 2009

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