Treaty Research

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

Full-Text Sources for Bilateral Treaties -- Single Jurisdictions

The most comprehensive full-text sources for bilateral treaties are national treaty collections and official gazettes, both of which are limited in scope to a single jurisdiction.  For major English-speaking jurisdictions, such as Australia, Canada, and the U.K., these resources are often accessible online.  For non-English-speaking jurisdictions, these resources are less likely to be accessible online and may only be available in print.

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. 

Official Gazettes

"Official gazette" is a generic term for a government publication in which newly enacted legislation, regulations, and other sources of primary law are published in chronological order.  In most jurisdictions, new laws and regulations do not take effect until they are published in the official gazette.  The closest parallel in the U.S. is the Federal Register, where administrative agencies are required to publish notices of proposed and final regulations. 

Many, but not all, official gazettes also publish the full texts of treaties, usually at the time they enter into force. To retrieve a treaty text from an official gazette, it is helpful to have a date or date range as a starting point.  Bear in mind that official gazettes are only published in the language(s) of the jurisdiction and are not translated into English.  To identify and access the official gazette for a particular jurisdiction, consult the following resources:

  • Foreign Law Guide
    This subscription database covers 190 jurisdictions.  Select the desired jurisdiction from the Country List.  Then scroll down to "Primary Sources" and click on the link labeled "Official Gazette."  In addition to the name of the official gazette, you will find a description of the content published therein, and a link to the online version, if one is available. 
  • Guide to Law Online -- Nations of the World (Library of Congress)
    This Library of Congress website is also a reliable source of information about official gazettes.  After selecting the desired jurisdiction from the alphabetical list, scroll down to the heading "Legislation" to find the name of the official gazette and a link to the online version, if one is available. 
  • Law Library of Congress
    For official gazettes that are only available in print, the Law Library of Congress is the best (and often the only) access point.  Before visiting in person, search for the title of the gazette in the library's online catalog to confirm that it is available.  Or call the Law Library of Congress at 202-707-5079.
  • A Guide to Official Gazettes and Their Contents.  REF ZZ164.G7 G84 1985
    Although it is dated, this guide can still be used to identify the name of an official gazette, to determine whether or not it publishes treaty texts, and to determine in which part of the gazette treaty texts appear.  Be sure to verify that the information you find here is still current by consulting one of the online resources described above.