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.

Status Information & Updating (U.S. Treaties)

Once you have located the text of a treaty or agreement, you will need to determine its current status. This can be a challenging task, as status information is always evolving, and the relevant research tools continue to migrate from print to electronic formats.  Use the resources described below to determine the ratification status of treaties, whether or not treaties and other international agreements have entered into force or been amended after entering into force, and to identify treaties that never entered into force.

Ratification Status

  • U.S. Senate website.
    The Senate's website allows you to track the progress of treaties submitted for ratification during the current Congress.  Note that unratified treaties remain pending before the Senate at the end of a congressional term, unless they are withdrawn by the president.
     
  • List of Treaties Pending Before the Senate.  (U.S. State Department)
    The State Department's list includes treaties submitted for ratification during the current Congress as well as treaties submitted to the Senate during prior Congresses that remain pending and unratified.
     

Entry Into Force, Declarations, Reservations & Subsequent Amendments

  • Treaties in Force (TIF).
    To determine whether or not a treaty or agreement has entered into force for the U.S., consult the most recent 2017 edition of TIF.  For multilateral treaties, TIF will tell you which other countries are parties to the treaty and whether the U.S. or other parties ratified the treaty subject to any declarations or reservations.  TIF also provides information about subsequent amendments made to treaties already in force.
     
  • Treaty Actions.
    This online publication from State Department's Office of Treaty Affairs used to provide monthly updates on the status of treaties and other international agreements, including dates of entry into force and amendments made to treaties and agreements already in force.  It was last published in November of 2012, and it is unclear if regular publication will resume.  This content was previously published in print under the following titles:
  • Multilateral Treaties Deposited with the Secretary-General (MTDSG).
    This U.N. database is an excellent sources for status information and updates on multilateral treaties, whether or not the U.S. is a party.  Coverage is limited to the 560+ multilateral treaties that have been deposited with the U.N. secretary-general.  Treaties are arranged chronologically by subject matter, with each chapter of the MTDSG corresponding to a particular subject.
     
  • Subject-Specific Online Treaty Collections.
    Subject-specific online treaty collections also can be good sources for status information and updates on multilateral treaties, whether or not the U.S. is a party.  Click on the link above for a directory of subject-specific treaty collections that are accessible online.
     
  • State Department -- Office of the Assistant Legal Advisor for Treaty Affairs.
    As a last resort, if all else fails, you may contact the Office of the Assistant Legal Advisor for Treaty Affairs by phone (202-647-1345) for clarification on the status of a treaty or agreement.
     

Treaties That Never Entered Into Force

  • Unperfected Treaties of the United States of America, 1776-1976. INTL KZ236 .A5
    This 9-volume set includes the texts of treaties concluded by the U.S. between 1776 and 1976 that, for various reasons, never entered into force.  Content is arranged chronologically by date of signature.  Each volume has its own subject index.  The final volume includes a cumulative subject index.