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Georgetown Law Library

Treaty Research

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

Treaty Citations

Treaty Citation Format

Treaty citations are governed by Rule 21.4 of The Bluebook KF245 .U5 2015.  A treaty citation should include the following components:  1) the name of the agreement, 2) the abbreviated names of the parties (only for bilateral treaties), 3) the subdivision cited (if applicable), 4) the date of signing, and 5) the source(s) for the text of the treaty.  Here is an example of a citation to a multilateral treaty formatted according to Rule 21.4:

North Atlantic Treaty art. 5, Apr. 4, 1949, 63 Stat. 2241, 34 U.N.T.S. 243.
 

Treaty Sources and Abbreviations

  • The Bluebook, Table 4 (p. 494) KF245 .U5 2015.
    Table 4 lists official U.S. treaty sources, treaty sources published by international organizations, and unofficial treaty sources.  It also includes the standard abbreviations for these sources.
  • Cardiff Index to Legal Abbreviations
    This free online resources will help you to decipher citations to unfamiliar treaty sources.  Search by abbreviation to identify the full name of the treaty source or search by title to determine the correct abbreviation for a treaty source.
     

Which Treaty Source(s) to Cite?

The number of sources cited will vary, depending on the type of treaty and whether or not the U.S. is a party.

  • U.S. Bilateral Treaties (Bluebook Rule 21.4.5 (a) (i))
    • Cite one of the following official sources, which are listed in order of preference:  U.S.T. (or Stat.); T.I.A.S. (or T.S. or E.A.S.); U.N.T.S.; Senate Treaty Documents or Senate Executive Documents; the Department of State Dispatch; Department of State Press Releases.
    • If the treaty has not been published any of the official sources listed above, cite to one of the unofficial sources outlined in Rule 21.4.5 (c).
  • U.S. Multilateral Treaties (Bluebook Rule 21.4.5 (a) (ii)
    • Cite to one of the official U.S. treaty sources outlined in Rule 21.4.5 (a) (i).
    • A parallel citation may be added to a source published by an international organization, such as U.N.T.S., L.N.T.S., O.A.S.T.S., Pan-Am., T.S., O.J., E.T.S. or C.E.T.S.
  • U.S. Is Not a Party (Bluebook Rule 21.4.5 (b))
    • Cite to one source published by an international organization, if the treaty appears therein.
    • If not, then cite to an official source published by one of the state parties to the agreement, indicating the name of the jurisdiction in parentheses if it is not clear from the context.  Consult Table 2 of The Bluebook for official treaty sources published by foreign jurisdictions.
    • If the treaty has not been published in any official source, cite to one of the unofficial sources in Rule 21.4.5 (c).
       

Quick Citation Reference Tools for Frequently Cited Treaties

If you locate the text of a well-known treaty online and aren't sure what print sources to include in the citation, consult the following quick reference tools:

  • Frequently Cited Treaties and Other International Instruments (U. of Minnesota Law Library)
    Treaties are grouped by subject matter.  For each treaty, a full Bluebook citation is provided.
  • Electronic Information System for International Law (EISIL) (American Society of International Law)
    Enter the name of the treaty in the "Find" box located in the upper left side of the homepage.  When the search results are displayed, click on the "More Information" link below the treaty name to access the treaty record, which includes citations to print sources.  Review the formatting for Bluebook compliance.  (Click here to view a sample record for the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.)