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Treaty Research

A guide to resources for treaty research prepared by John Bolan, Bora Laskin Law Library

Welcome

The Honourable Louis S. Saint-Laurent, Deputy Chairman of the Canadian Delegation signs for Canada at the United Nations Conference on International Organization on 26th June 1945.

Image credit

Welcome to the Treaty Research guide. This page is intended as a guide to the resources available to students at the University of Toronto for treaty research.

Getting Started

Treaty research is a specialized endeavor with its own vocabulary. For a glossary of treaty terms please consult this UN resource.

Treaty research usually requires a minimum of two separate elements. Researchers must:

  1. Find the full text of the treaty;
  2. Ascertain the status of the treaty

Ascertaining the status of a treaty involves determining the treaty's:

  • signatories
  • ratification status
  • in-force status
  • subsequent protocols, reservations or other devices that have affected its status
  • whether there is an international organization that oversees or administers international law in the subject area of the treaty

Researchers may also be interested in:

  • domestic legislation implementing treaties;
  • domestic or international interpretation of treaties

Bilateral v Multilateral

Treaties may be bilateral (between two countries), or multilateral (between three or more countries). Generally, there are more sources of information for multilateral treaties.