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Law - Treaty Research  

Last Updated: Nov 25, 2013 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

Introduction Print Page

What is a Treaty?

A Treaty is a formal agreement between two or more countries.

There are two types of treaties:

  1. Bilateral -two countries, such as the United States and Greece; and
  2. Multilateral -more than two countries, such as the Geneva Convention.

A country may choose not to participate in a multilateral treaty.


    Common Treaty Series Abbreviations

    Bevans = Treaties and Other International Acts of the United States of America 1776-1949.

    KAV =  Kavass numbers are a symbol, followed by a number, assigned for the temporary identification of treaties and agreements entered into by the United States after 1950 and not yet assigned a TIAS number. Used by the Hein current treaty service (available on HeinOnline). The Bluebook prefers KAV numbers if UST or TIAS are not available. 

    ILM =  International Legal Materials

    LNTS = League of Nations Treaty Series (1920-1946)

    Stat. = Statutes at Large (prior to 1950, treaties were published as statutes)   

    TIAS = Treaties & Other International Act Series

    UNTS = United Nations Treaty Series

    UST = United States Treaties & Other International Agreements


    Prof. Aimee Bacik on Treaty Research

    How do treaties come into force?

    In the US, the President can enter into a treaty with another country, but 2/3 of the Senate must concur, or ratify the treaty.

    The President can also use Executive Agreements, which do not require congressional approval.

    Treaty research may thus require both statute and regulatory research.


      Treaty Status is Important

      Only those states which signed the treaty are bound by it.

      States may join the treaty years after it is written.

      States may terminate their participation at any time.


        Secondary Sources

        Germain’s Transnational Law Research (Law Library Reserves - K85 .G47)

        Public international law in a nutshell (Law Library Reserves -  KZ 3410 .B84 2007)

        Restatement of the law, the foreign relations law of the United States (Law Library -  KF 395 .A2 F6762 1992)

        International Legal Materials (abbreviated as ILM - Law Library JX 68 .I5)

        Marci B. Hoffman and Robert C. Berring, International legal research in a nutshell (Law Library Reserves KZ 1234 .H64 2008)

        Encyclopedia of Public International Law (Law Library JX 1226 .E5 1992)

        EISIL: The American Society of International Law’s Electronic Information System for International Law

        EISIL:  The American Society of International Law’s Electronic Information System for International Law: 
 contains primary documents and extremely helpful links to other documents on a wide variety of international law topics.   This site is very helpful on basic principles of international law.


          Subject Guide

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          Jan Bissett
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          Please contact the Law Library Reference Desk at 313.577.6180 for research assistance.

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