Roy L. Sturgeon
Tulane University Law School
332 Weinmann Hall
6329 Freret St.
New Orleans, LA 70118-6231
Tel: +1 504.865.5953
Fax: +1 504.865.5917
Because full-text treaties are typically published chronologically instead of by subject in print sets like the United Nations Treaty Series, search these indexes to find citations to print sets (many of which are also available online) that have full-text treaties:
For more help with learning about & researching treaties, see:
A treaty is a negotiated instrument concluded between nations in written form & governed by international law. The origin of treaties goes back to the dawn of civilization 5,000 years ago. Today, treaties are the main source of international law & of creating peaceful cooperation among nations. Sometimes a treaty isn't called a "treaty" but an accord, agreement, charter, constitution, convention, covenant, declaration, final act, memorandum of understanding, pact, protocol, or statute. The term used to refer to a treaty usually has no legal significance in international law.
E. Full-Text Sources
The following sources have full-text treaties:
F. Context, Context, Context
Background documents (aka travaux préparatoires in French) can help interpret & apply vague language in treaties. For help with US treaties, try:
1. Court decisions: Keyword search LexisNexis and/or Westlaw's federal caselaw database for the treaty name because neither Shepard's (online) nor KeyCite include citations to treaties. Shepard's Federal Statute Citations (print) includes citations to treaties, but the Law Library no longer gets updated volumes/supplements.
2. Legislative histories: Search HeinOnline (US Federal Legislative History Library spans 1789–present), Congress.gov (spans 1949–present), ProQuest Congressional (spans 1969–present), & Senate Foreign Relations Committee (spans 1949–present). Sometimes they will be already "compiled" for you (by commercial, for-profit companies like Hein & ProQuest), other times YOU will have to compile them by finding individual documents (in various places) that comprise histories like bill drafts, congressional debates, & committee hearings, reports, & prints.
For help with non-US treaties, run a keyword search for "travaux preparatoires" on the Law Library's online catalog to see what it owns in print &/or can access online. Add the treaty name (in quotation marks as well) to narrow the results. Also consider running the search on subscription databases & free search engines.
C. "Must" Finds
1. The treaty's full text in an official print source if possible (see Bluebook Table 4, pp. 494–5);
2. Status & ratification information (i.e., is it still in force & with what nations?);
3. Reservations (i.e., exclusions, modifications) or declarations (i.e., clarifications); &
4. Background documents/travaux préparatoires (i.e., court decisions, legislative histories, commentaries) to help interpret its provisions