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 University Law Library)
    This free resource offers selective coverage of historical documents related to law, history, and diplomacy, including many older bilateral and multilateral treaties.
    • Browsing Options:   Use the chronological menus at the top to browse by date.  Or click on "Document Collections" in the center of the page to browse by topic (e.g. British-American diplomacy 1782-).
    • Searching:  Enter keywords in the search box in the upper right-hand corner.
    • Note:  Content is only available in HTML format for viewing in a browser window.  If you need to download a PDF copy, use the subscription database Oxford Historical Treaties.

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:  Many of these online resources are only available in the language(s) of the jurisdiction.  Comprehensiveness and dates of coverage vary.

Regional Treaty Collections

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

  • African Union (AU) - African Treaties, Conventions, Protocols, and Charters
    Browse alphabetically or by category for multilateral treaties drafted under the auspices of the African Union and its predecessor, the Organization for African Unity, on a wide range of subjects, from human rights to trade and economic integration.
  • 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 separate EUR-Lex database of International Agreements, which may be searched by keyword or browsed by subject.
  • 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
    • 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.
  • Aviation
    • ICAO Treaty Collection (International Civil Aviation Organization)
      This website, maintained by the ICAO, a specialized agency of the United Nations, focuses on the most important multilateral aviation treaties for which the ICAO serves as the depositary.  It is an excellent source for up-to-date status and ratification information for these treaties, but it does not provide links to the full texts.
    • DAGMAR  (International Civil Aviation Organization)
      This searchable database includes records for thousands of multilateral, bilateral, and regional aviation treaties that have been registered with the ICAO.  Each record provides basic information about the treaty, including its title and subject matter, the state parties to the treaty, the date and place of signature, and the date of entry into force.  Links to the full texts of treaties are not provided.
  • Cyber Crime, Cyber Security & Data Protection
    • Multilateral Frameworks for Cyber Policy (U.N. Institute for Disarmament Research)
      This directory include links to multilateral and regional treaties, as well as some soft law instruments, intended to promote international cooperation in enhancing cyber security and the protection of personal data, and in combating cyber crime.  Note:  UNIDIR is in the process of updating and revising this resource.
  • Culture, Cultural Heritage & Educational Matters
    • UNESCO Conventions
      Access the full texts of more than two dozen multilateral treaties negotiated under ths auspices of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization.  The treaties govern cultural matters, the protection of cultural heritage, and qualifications in higher education and vocational education.  In addition to full text of each treaty, you will find its date of entry into force, a current list of state parties, their dates of ratification, and the texts of any declarations or reservations.
  • 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.
  • Health & Health-Related 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 alphabetically by title, by date (adoption or entry into force), by region, and by legal status (binding or non-binding).
  • Human Rights
    • Human Rights Instruments (Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights)
      This portal provides access to the U.N.'s core human rights treaties and their optional protocols, as well as other universal human rights instruments drafted by the U.N. and its affiliated entities.  Click on the name of an instrument to view the full text in your browser, to download the full text in PDF format, and to view current status and ratification information..
    • Human Rights Treaties & Other Instruments (University of Minnesota Human Rights Library)
      This free resource focuses human rights treaties and related soft law instruments.   Search by keyword or browse alphabetically or by subject.  Note:  Content is only available in HTML format for viewing in a browser window.  Cautionary Note:  The database is no longer updated and ratification information may no longer be current.  Still a good source for treaty texts and citations.
  • 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 Country Navigator to display all investment treaties and related national laws for a specific jurisdiction.  Or use the Advanced Search template to perform a more 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.  (In addition, the Status of WTO Legal Instruments, an official WTO publication, is available for download in PDF format.)  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.
  • Outer Space
    • Space Treaties & Principles (U.N. Office for Outer Space Affairs)
      This page provides a central point for accessing the five U.N.-sponsored treaties governing activities outer space, as well as five key resolutions adopted by the U.N. General Assembly setting forth principles for the peaceful use of outer space.  For each treaty, you will find links for downloading the full text in multiple languages, information about its current status and ratification history, and links for downloading documents related to its drafting history (travaux préparatoires) in PDF format.
  • Private International Law
    • Conventions & Instruments (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.