Human Rights Law Research Guide

This guide will lead researchers through primary materials and introduce important secondary sources. While general human rights sources are covered in the guide, special attention is paid to resources that specifically address international women's human

Status of Human Rights Treaties

Brief Overview

Once you have located the text of a human rights treaty, you may need to determine its current status.  For example:

  • Has the treaty entered into force and, if so, on what date? 
  • Which countries are state parties to the treaty? 
  • Has a state party ratified the treaty subject to any declarations or reservations
  • Are there any subsequent protocols (supplements) to the treaty text?

To answer these questions, consult the resources described below.  For additional guidance on updating the status of multilateral treaties, consult the Georgetown Law Library's Treaty Research Guide.

Status of International Human Rights Treaties

  • Multilateral Treaties Deposited with the Secretary-General (MTDSG)
    MTDSG is the most comprehensive resource for updating the status of multilateral treaties, covering over 560 treaties that have been deposited with the UN secretary-general since 1946.  Treaties are arranged chronologically by subjectChapter IV covers human rights treaties.  Note that protocols (supplements) to treaties are listed separately.  Each treaty 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.
  • Core International Human Rights Treaties - Ratification Information
    This database provides up-to-date ratification information for the core international human rights treaties and their protocols.  To browse by country, select the name of the desired country from the pull-down menu of jurisdictions.  Or use the treaty menu to view ratifications for a specific treaty.
  • Core International Human Rights Treaties - Interactive Ratification Map
    This interactive tool also covers the core international human rights treaties and their protocols.  To browse by country, click on the color-coded map or use the alphabetical country list displayed to the left of the map.  To browse by treaty, use the pull-down menu located above the map.
  • International Humanitarian Law (IHL) Treaties
    The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) maintains this database of IHL treaties, which govern the conduct of warfare and the treatment of prisoners and non-combatants.  It includes current status information for all IHL treaties.
  • International Labor Standards Conventions
    The International Labour Organization's NORMLEX database offers the most comprehensive collection of treaties on labor standards.  Scroll to the bottom of a treaty text for a link to ratification information by country. 

Status of Regional Human Rights Treaties

  • Status of African Human Rights Instruments
    The African Commission on Human Rights and Peoples' Rights maintains this directory of pan-African human rights treaties and related soft law instruments.  To access treaty ratification information, begin by clicking on the name of a treaty.  After the page refreshes, scroll down below the map and click on the link to view complete ratification information.
  • Status of Inter-American Treaties
    The Department of International Law of the Organization of American States (OAS) provides current ratification and status information (including the full texts of declarations and reservations) for treaties drafted under the auspices of the OAS.  Use the links below the heading "Signatories and Ratifications" to browse by subject (human rights) or by country.
  • Status of European Human Rights Treaties & Protocols
    The Council of Europe's Treaty Office maintains this comprehensive list of all human rights treaties drafted by the Council.  To determine the current status of a treaty, begin by clicking on the treaty name.  After the page refreshes, scroll down and click on the relevant links for current information about signatures, ratifications, declarations, and reservations.