Negotiating histories, also known as travaux préparatoires or preparatory works, include the preliminary drafts of a treaty text and other official records generated during the negotiations. Article 32 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties states that preparatory works may be consulted to discern the meaning of a treaty clause when the text is ambiguous. Consequently, drafting histories of the GATT and WTO agreements are often used to resolve questions of interpretation.
The WTO and commercial publishers have compiled negotiating histories for many of the various GATT and WTO agreements. In the columns below you will find a selection of compiled negotiating histories and links to electronic sources for retrieving documents from the negotiating sessions. Use the compiled negotiating histories to locate citations to relevant documents. Use the electronic resources to retrieve the full texts of the documents. To locate additional negotiating histories, search the Law Library's online catalog by subject for the exact name of an agreement in combination with the following keywords: history or travaux.
This subscription research platform has a database of 1,700 documents from the Uruguay Round of multilateral trade negotiations. It includes all of the principle negotiating texts and key working group documents. To access these materials, click on the “Negotiating History” tab in the upper right-hand corner of the homepage.
GATT Digital Library: 1947-1994
This free online database, sponsored by the Stanford University Libraries in partnership with the WTO, provides online access to more than 59,000 public documents generated by the GATT, including documents related to the Uruguay Round negotiations.
GATT Documents Online
This digital archive eventually will provide online access to all official documents generated by the GATT between 1947 and 1994. Note that many of these documents previously had been restricted and did not exist in digital formats. Documents will be added to the database gradually as they are de-restricted, scanned, and cataloged.
WTO Documents Online
This digital archive provides online access to more than 100,000 official documents generated by the WTO since 1995, including those related to ongoing trade negotiations. Browse by topic (trade negotiations) or search by keyword or document number.