Georgetown Law
Georgetown Law Library

Treaty Research

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

Free Online Treaty Collections

Historical Treaties

  • Avalon Project (Yale Law Library)
    Selective coverage of bilateral and multilateral treaties and other historical documents. Browse chronologically or by document collection (e.g. British-American diplomacy 1782-) or enter keywords in the search box.
     

National Treaty Collections

Many countries maintain comprehensive collections of bilateral and multilateral treaties to which they are (or have been) a party.  Originally published in print, national treaty collections are increasingly accessible online.  Listed below are links to some of the best online collections of national treaties.  Note that content and dates of coverage vary by jurisdiction.

Regional Treaty Collections

The following regional inter-governmental organizations provide access to treaties concluded among countries within their respective geographic regions.

  • Council of Europe -- European Treaties
    Multilateral European treaties covering a wide array of subjects, ranging from human rights to child custody to technical standards and wildlife conservation.  Browse chronologically, by title, by subject or by citation.
     
  • European Union Treaties in the Eur-Lex Database
    Current and prior versions of the treaties that govern the EU, as well as accession treaties for member states that joined the EU after its founding.  For external treaties between the EU and non-member states or entities, consult the EU Treaties Office database.
     
  • Organization of American States (OAS) Treaties
    Multilateral inter-American treaties (among states in the Western Hemisphere) covering a wide array of subjects, ranging from arbitration and dispute settlement to asylum, extradition, and human rights, plus bilateral treaties between the OAS and individual states or entities.
     

Treaties by Subject

Many international, inter-governmental, and non-governmental organizations maintain collections or searchable databases of treaties related to a particular topic or group of related sub-topics.  Links to some of the best of these subject-specific treaty collections are provided below. 

  • Armed Conflict and International Humanitarian Law
    • Arms Control & Disarmament Treaties (EISIL)
      Access point for treaties that govern the use of conventional, biological, chemical, nuclear, and other types of weapons.  Click on the name of a treaty for a link to the full text.  Click on "More Information" to view a treaty record with citation information, date of entry into force, and other basic information.
       
    • International Humanitarian Law Treaties (International Committee of the Red Cross)
      This user-friendly database includes the Geneva Conventions and dozens of other treaties that govern the conduct of armed conflict.  Search by keyword or browse by topic, country or date.
       
  • Environmental Matters
    • ECOLEX Treaties (U.N. and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature)
      Access more than 2,000 treaties on subjects ranging from air pollution to wildlife conservation.  Search by keyword and filter by subject, country, treaty type, status, and date.  The database also includes national legislation and court decisions, as well as soft law materials.
       
    • Environmental Treaties and Resource Indicators (ENTRI) (Columbia University and NASA)
      Use the Treaty Locator to search by keyword and filter by subject or date.  Use the Country Explorer to quickly determine what environmental treaties have been ratified by a particular country.  It is also possible to generate customized charts.  You may find it helpful to view the tutorials, as the interface is dated and somewhat quirky.
       
  • Health Issues
    • Global Health & Human Rights Instruments (O'Neill Center for Global Health Law at GULC)
      Browse more than 150 treaties and soft law instruments pertaining to health and human rights.  Sort by legal status (binding or non-binding), region or date.  An Advanced Search template is also available. 
       
  • Human Rights
    • Human Rights Treaty Bodies (Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights)
      This portal provides access to documentation maintained by the administrative entities responsible for the U.N.'s core human rights treaties.  Content includes treaty texts and subsequent amendments, status updates, and country ratification information.
       
    • Human Rights Treaties & Other Instruments (University of Minnesota Human Rights Library)
      Search by keyword or browse alphabetically or by subject.  Also provides ratification information by country in a convenient table format.
       
  • Intellectual Property
    • WIPO Treaties (World Intellectual Property Organization)
      Access 26 WIPO-administered treaties governing the international recognition and protection of copyrights, patents, and trademarks.  For each treaty, you will find a summary, links to the full text, status updates, and a current list of state parties with their dates of ratification and the texts of any declarations or reservations.
       
  • International Investment Law (Foreign Direct Investment)
    • International Investment Agreements Navigator (U.N. Conference on Trade and Development)
      This database includes more than 3,000 bilateral investment treaties (BITs) and more than 300 other treaties that include investment protection measures.  Use the interactive map to browse treaties by country or used the Advanced Search template to perform a targeted search.
       
  • International Trade & Commerce
    • UNCITRAL Texts & Status
      Access treaties and model laws related to international commerce drafted by the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law, along with status updates, ratification information, and travaux préparatoires.
       
    • WTO Legal Texts and Pre-WTO Legal Texts (World Trade Organization)
      The first collection includes the 1994 Agreement Establishing the World Trade Organization, subsequent multilateral trade agreements, and a glossary of trade-related terms.  The second collection covers the period from 1947 to 1993 and includes the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT).
       
  • Labor & Employment
    • International Labor Standards Conventions (International Labour Organization)
      The International Labour Organization's NORMLEX database offers the most comprehensive collection of treaties on labor standards, including those that prohibit forced labor and guarantee the right to collective bargaining, among many others.  Treaty texts may be viewed in Web browser in multiple languages.  Scroll to the bottom of a treaty text for links to ratification information by country.
       
  • Private International Law
    • Convention & Protocols (Hague Conference on Private International Law)
      Access 40 treaties drafted by the Hague Conference on Private International Law pertaining to civil procedure, commercial law, family law, and the recognition of foreign judgments, among other matters, along with status updates and ratification information.  For some treaties, commentary, select case law, and bibliographies of secondary source material also are provided.
       
    • UNIDROIT Instruments (International Institute for the Unification of Private Law)
      Access treaties drafted by the International Institute for the Unification of Private Law related to international agency, franchising, leasing, sales, and the transport of goods, among other topics, along with status updates, ratification information, and preparatory works.