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Treaty Research

This guide describes resources and methods for locating and updating treaties of the United States and other countries.


Treaties can be referred to by a number of different names: international conventions, international agreements, covenants, final acts, charters, protocols, pacts, accords, and constitutions for international organizations. Usually these different names have no legal significance in international law. Treaties may be bilateral (two parties) or multilateral (between several parties) and a treaty is usually only binding on the parties to the agreement. An agreement "enters into force" when the terms for entry into force as specified in the agreement are met. Bilateral treaties usually enter into force when both parties agree to be bound as of a certain date.

For more information about treaties, consult the following resources:

  • Public International Law in a Nutshell INTL REF KZ3110 .A3 2013
    Part of the popular Nutshell series, this study aid provides an easy-to-digest overview of treaty law.
  • The Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law INTL REF KZ1160 .M39 2012
    This 10-volume encyclopedia includes articles on various aspects of treaty law written by some of the world's foremost legal scholars.  In particular, see Volume 9 (pages 1060-1144) and Volume 10 (pages 1-84).  
  • The Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law  Online Edition (Georgetown Law Only)
    From the menu bar at the top of the homepage, click on the Subjects tab and select "Law of Treaties."  Then use the filters on the left side to find articles on narrower topics within the field of treaty law.