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 (Multilateral Treaties)

Once you have located the text of a multilateral treaty, you will need to determine its current status.  On what date did the treaty enter into force?  Which countries are state parties to the treaty?  Have any countries ratified the treaty subject to one or more declarations or reservations?  Have there been any subsequent amendments or supplements (often referred to as protocols) to the treaty text?  To answer these questions, consult the following resources:   

  • Multilateral Treaties Deposited with the Secretary-General (MTDSG).
    MTDSG is the most comprehensive resource for updating the status of multilateral treaties.  It covers more than 560 treaties that have entered into force from 1946-present.  The U.N. secretary-general serves as the official depositary for these treaties.

    Treaties are arranged chronologically by subject, with each chapter of the MTDSG corresponding to a particular subject.  Note that protocols (supplements) to treaties are listed separately.  To locate a treaty record, click on the relevant chapter to browse or search by title for the name of the treaty.  Each record contains:
     
    • Basic Information about the treaty, including:
      • Its date of entry into force.
      • The current number of signatories and state parties.
      • The volume number of the U.N. Treaty Series in which the text of the treaty is published.
      • A link to download the text of the treaty in PDF format.
         
    • An alphabetical list of participating countries, including dates of signature and dates of ratification, accession, and succession;
       
    • The full texts of all declarations, reservations, and objections made by each state party.

       
  • Directory of Treaty Depositaries
    For multilateral treaties that have not been deposited with the U.N. secretary-general, the best place to look for status information is the depositary institution for the treaty in question.  Both national governments and international organizations serve as treaty depositaries.  For each multilateral treaty to which the U.S. is a party, the publication Treaties in Force (TIF) usually identifies the depositary and provides a link to its website.  An alphabetical directory of treaty depositaries can be found in Section II of Treaties in Force at page ii.
     
  • Regional Inter-Governmental Organizations That Serve as Treaty Depositaries.
    The following regional inter-governmental organizations serve as treaty depositaries for multilateral treaties drafted under their auspices.  Their respective treaty websites provide regularly updated status information.
     
    • African Union Treaties
      Includes more than 60 multilateral treaties drafted by the African Union and its predecessor, the Organization of African Unity (OAU), covering human rights and other subjects.
       
    • Council of Europe Treaties
      Includes more than 200 multilateral Council of Europe treaties covering a wide variety of subjects ranging from cultural protection to cross-border legal cooperation and human rights.
       
    • Organization of American States Treaties
      Includes dozens of multilateral treaties concluded among countries in the Western Hemisphere on a wide range of subjects.
       
  • Subject-Specific Online Treaty Collections.
    The subject-specific online treaty collections listed below provide regularly updated status information for selected multilateral treaties.  Other subject-specific treaty collections also may provide status information.