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Treaty Research Basics

About Multilateral Treaties

The category "multilateral treaties" includes any treaty with three or more parties, This includes major conventions to which dozens of nations are states parties; agreements between international organizations or between such organizations and nations.

When the United States is a party to a multilateral treaty, the information on the U.S. Treaties tab is relevant. The multilateral treaties section of U.S. Treaties in Force can confirm the U.S. party status, identify other states parties, and provide citation(s) to the treaty text, if available. When the U.S. is a party to a multilateral treaty, The Bluebook rule requires citation to official U.S. sources for treaty texts, where available. If the U.S. is not a party to the treaty, intergovernmental sources or "unofficial" sources for treaty texts should be used.

This tab focuses on two key sources that may be useful for researching multilateral treaties regardless whether the U.S. is a party: United Nations Treaty Collection (UNTC) and Hein Online's World Treaty Library (WLT). See the boxes in the central column. Both of these tools are useful for finding treaty texts and checking the status of treaties: determining if the treaty has entered into force, identifying the states parties to the agreement, and checking whether parties have issued any reservations, understandings or declarations (RUDs) that may limit or modify the treaty's application to those parties.

The United Nations Glossary of terms related to treaty actions may be especially helpful to consult when research the status of treaties. The research guides linked to the Additional Sources tab are also useful in researching treaties in depth.