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Foreign and International Law--Basic Research Resouces  

This guide is intended to present basic international law resources. It includes links to sources of treaties, international organizations, laws of foreign countries, and more detailed international law research guides.
Last Updated: Nov 12, 2014 URL: http://law.uark.libguides.com/content.php?pid=114042 Print Guide RSS Updates

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Finding U.S. Treaties

The authoritative source on U.S. treaties is Treaties in Force, an annual publication by the U.S. Dept. of State. A print copy is in the Law Library at call# KZ235 .T7. It has two parts: Part 1 covers bilateral treaties (organized alphabetically by the non-U.S. party, then subject), and Part 2 covers multilateral agreements (organized alphabetically by subject). Information includes the date of entry into force, any amendments, citations to the text of the treaty, and the designated depositary. The depositary is the nation or organization that keeps the official text of the treaty, so it should be the text used in research.

Finding Treaties Where the U.S. is Not a Party

If the U.S. is not a party, a treaty will not be listed in Treaties in Force. Here are a few options for locating non-U.S. treaties:

The Hague Conventions

The Hague Conference on Private International Law (http://www.hcch.net/index_en.php) has conventions that are grouped into three categories, linked below. The Conventions are designed to enable cooperation between legal systems for private (non-state) matters such as international adoption and commercial transactions.

Locating the Texts of Treaties/International Agreements

If you know the identity of the depositary, you can find the treaty text at that nation or organization's website. If you find a treaty title and its citation, you can find the publication on HeinOnline's Treaties and Agreements Library, linked below. Here are some treaty publication citations and their titles:

T.I.A.S. = Treaties and Other International Acts Series
U.S.T. = United States Treaties and Other International Agreements
KAV = Kavass

Parts of a Treaty

When researching treaties, there are parts to look for in addition to the actual text:

  • The status of the parties
    Who has signed the treaty? Has the treaty actually entered into force (become law) for a particular party?
  • Comments by parties
    A nation or other entity may be a treaty party, but they may have upon signing made a comment that falls into the category of Reservation, Understanding, or Declaration. This may affect the enforceability of a particular treaty section concerning this party.
  • Modifications
    The treaty may have been updated over time. To see if this is the case in your research, check Treaties in Force, the treaty as posted on the depositary's website, or call the Treaty Affairs office at the U.S. Dept. of State.

International Law in U.S. Courts

  • i.lex--Database of International Law in U.S. Courts
    A product of the American Society of International Law. From the website: "This online database of select U.S. court cases and related materials is designed to serve as a practical resource for members of the judiciary and other legal professionals to identify and understand how international law is interpreted and applied by U.S. courts at both the federal and state level."

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