Guide to U.S. Treaty Research
Does the treaty involve the United States?
If not, don't use this instruction sheet. However, you might be able to locate the treaty using another country's treaty collection or our library's subscription to the U.N. Treaty Collection http://treaties.un.org. This subscription should work from any computer on campus. If the U.S. is a party to the treaty, it will be indexed in Treaties in Force. (Details about Treaties in Force are below.)
Do you know when the treaty was adopted?
If it was adopted within the past year or might still be under consideration by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, go to the Senate's treaty page. If you don't see the treaty there, go to the State Department's "Treaty Actions" page at http://www.state.gov/s/l/treaty/c3428.htm.
The Library of Congress's THOMAS Web site has the text of recent treaties at http://thomas.loc.gov/home/treaties/treaties.html.
Executive agreements that don't require advice and consent of the Senate are available from 1997-present at http://www.state.gov/s/l/treaty/caseact/index.htm.
The other source for a very recent treaty is International Legal Materials which is compiled by ASIL and available from both Lexis and Westlaw. (This resource also has the text of "judicial and arbitral decisions, national legislation, international organizations resolutions, and other documents.") If you cannot tell what has happened with a recent treaty's ratification in the U.S., call the Office of Treaty Affairs at the Department of State 1-202-647-1345. You might also find your answer in their FAQ's http://www.state.gov/s/l/treaty/faqs/.
If it was adopted recently, but not necessarily within the past year, use the United States Treaty Index KZ235 .U58 1991 and if it's not there, then Current Treaty Index, to get a KAV# or TIAS# or UST# for the treaty.
These #s are the index numbers under which treaties are organized in full-text compilations. Although the indexes are in print, the treaty set is typically electronic or in microfiche. (KAV #s are assigned by Hein Publishing as temporary placeholders for treaties not yet published in the government’s official treaty compilation.)
Treaties and Other International Acts Series (TIAS) publishes treaties in order by adoption date, but several years after that date.
Hein's United States Treaties - Current Service is a microfiche set which has treaties in order by KAV#s and TIAS#s. You can find it in microfiche in cabinet 30 drawer M.
United States Treaties and Other International Agreements (UST) is the U.S. Government's official compilation of treaties, but it is more than ten years behind the adoption of treaties; do not expect to find a recent treaty in there. It is in print at call number KZ235.33 .U55. All of the sources in this paragraph can also be accessed from our subscription to Hein Online at any computer on campus.
If it is an old treaty, look in Treaties in Force which is available in Hein Online, on the Web at http://www.state.gov/s/l/treaty/treaties/ or in print at KZ235 .T74, to be sure that it is still effective. You can search Treaties in Force by subject or by the name of any country that is a party to the treaty you seek. This will give you a UST# and/or TIAS# to lead you to the full-text for the treaty. If the treaty you seek was published before 1950, you can find it in full-text in the United States Statutes at Large (law library 4th floor aisle 4-18) for the year in which it was adopted.
Do you only know the name of the treaty?
If you only know a name and have no idea whether the treaty is about human rights or tax or anything else, look in the EISIL site's search engine, a law dictionary or else in a generic search engine to find some subject terms connected with it.
Do you only know a subject area within which you want to find treaties?
Use Treaties in Force to browse through topics or peruse through EISIL, the Electronic Information System for International Law. The Fletcher Multilaterals Project contains a good assortment of treaties in subject order.
Are you looking for treaties that involve particular countries?
Use Treaties in Force to search by country name.
Return to the law library's resource page for international agreements.