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International Legal Research: US Treaties & Agreements

Introduction to US Treaty Research

In the United States, the term "treaty" is used specifically to refer to the small number of international agreements that require the advice and consent of the Senate before entering into force. In contrast, "executive agreements" do not require Senate consent. Both types of agreements are binding under international law. For more information on the distinction between the two, consult this helpful guide from the Georgetown Law Library.

With the majority of current and historical treaties and agreements now available in online databases, it's much easier to locate the full text of a treaty or an agreement, using citations, search templates, and full text searching. Please note that this guide focuses on current treaties and agreements. For older or historical treaties, please refer to Treaty Publications, in HeinOnline's U.S. Treaties and Agreements Library.

Finding a Citation in Treaties in Force (TIF)

Use the following online sources to find the citation to a U.S. treaty or agreement. Most prefer using HeinOnline's U.S. Treaties and Agreements Library because it also links directly to the full-text, official version. No subscription? Try the State Department's website.

Updating TIF with Pending/Recent Treaties and Agreements

Drafting and Ratification History of U.S. Treaties

Individual Government Agencies Websites

U.S. Treaty Citations

Rule 21.4 of the Bluebook sets out the citations for treaties and international agreements. Georgetown's Treaty Guide provides a quick overview.

Three things to note about treaty citations:

  1. Use the English language version of a treaty name in full, whenever possible.
  2. In a bi-lateral treaty, abbreviate the country names according to Table 10 and order them alphabetically: Japan - U.S.
  3. In a multilateral treaty in which the U.S. is a party, cite to an official U.S. treaty sources, such as UST, TIAS, etc. A parallel citation to an international source may be added afterwards: UNTS, OASTS, etc.

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