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Treaty Research

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


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.

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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.