The United States often enters into agreements with other countries. Two types of agreements are treaties and executive agreements. The United States Constitution art. 2, § 2 dictates that treaties are international agreements that have received the advice and consent of two-thirds of the Senate and have been ratified by the President. There are two types of treaties. Bilateral treaties are agreements made by two countries. Multilateral treaties are agreements made by three or more countries. As chief executive of the United States, the President has the authority to create international agreements with other nations without Senate approval. These international agreements are called executive agreements.
Treaties are initiated at the executive level of government usually by the President or the Secretary of State. A representative for the United States is sent to negotiate the terms of the treaty with the representatives of other countries. When the parties agree on the terms, the representative submits the terms to the Secretary of State for approval. If the terms are accepted by the Secretary of State, then the representative will sign the treaty. The Secretary of State submits the treaty to the President for transmittal to the Senate.
Once the President receives the treaty, it is submitted to the Senate for approval. In the Senate, it is referred to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for consideration. The committee considers the terms of the treaty and, upon approval, submits the treaty to the entire Senate for consideration. The Senate must approve the treaty with a 2/3 majority vote. The President ratifies the treaty and proclaims its entry into force.
Executive Agreements follow much of the same process as treaties. They are initiated at the Executive level of government and are negotiated by a representative. When the parties agree on the terms, the Secretary of State authorizes the negotiator to sign the agreement and the agreement will enter into force. Executive agreements do not go to the Senate for consideration and approval. However, the Senate does need to be notified by the Executive Branch within 60 days of signing the agreement [Case-Zablocki Act (1 U.S.C. § 112b)].
The goals of this guide are to familiarize researchers with the treaty process, identify print and electronic sources containing the text of treaties and agreements, identify tools to update and check the status of a treaty, and help researchers locate legislative history on treaties.
Call numbers on this page link to library catalog records, which provide information about location, availability, and currency of print and microform items in the Ross-Blakley Law Library.
Westlaw and LexisNexis links will take you to the specified database if you have a password. These links work better if you are already logged in. The College of Law provides Westlaw and LexisNexis passwords to its law faculty, staff, and students. HeinOnline, CCH, and ProQuest Congressional databases are available on the ASU computer network, including remote access for ASU faculty, staff, and students.
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Treaties in Force
Treaties in Force is an annual publication that indexes treaties and international agreements in which the United States is a party that are currently in force as of January 1 of a given year. It is arranged into two sections, bilateral treaties and multilateral treaties. The bilateral section is arranged by country and within each country, broad subject headings. The multilateral section is arranged by subject.
A Guide to the United States Treaties in Force
This annual publication is used in conjunction with Treaties in Force and provides additional access points for locating treaties. Treaties are indexed numerically, by country, by subject, and chronologically.
Igor Kavass, the compiler of this index, assigns newly ratified treaties a "KAV" number. The text of these treaties is available on HeinOnline. When the treaty is later assigned a TIAS number, the official numbering by the State Department, the KAV number is replaced with the TIAS number. The index contains tables that cross reference KAV and TIAS numbers.
United States Treaty Index and Current Treaty Index
The United States Treaty Index indexes treaties that are currently in force and those not in force. Treaties are indexed numerically, geographically, by subject, by country, and chronologically. Entries for the above indexes contain a brief summary of the content of the treaty, signature date, date the treaty entered into force, citations to where the full-text of treaty can be located, and amendments and their citations. The United States Treaty Index is kept current by the Current Treaty Index.
Statutes at Large (Stat.)
Statutes at Large is the official source for treaties ratified prior to 1950. Volumes 7 and 8 contain treaties from 1778–1845. After 1845, the text of the treaties are in parts 2 and 3 of each sessional volume. Volume 64, part 3 contains a cumulative list of treaties contained in the Statutes at Large. They are indexed by country and by subject.
Treaties and Other International Agreements of the United States of America, 1776–1949 (Bevans)
More commonly referred to by its compiler's name, Bevans is an unofficial source for treaties ratified before 1950. This is a 13-volume set that compiles all of the treaties that appear in the Statutes at Large. Volumes 1–4 contain multilateral treaties and volumes 5–12 contain bilateral treaties arranged alphabetically by country. Volume 13 contains the index to the set.
Beginning January 1, 1950, treaties were no longer published in the Statutes at Large. Rather, a new set was created called United States Treaties and Other International Agreements.
United States Treaties and Other International Agreements (U.S.T.)
United States Treaties and Other International Agreements is the official source for treaties ratified after 1949. Bound volumes contain the text of each treaty in all of the signatories' languages and list the important dates during the ratification process. This set is about 14 years behind schedule.
Treaties and Other International Acts Series (T.I.A.S.)
Prior to a treaty's appearance in U.S.T., they are issued as a slip treaty and receive a unique TIAS number. This is the first official publication of a treaty. This series is about 11 years behind schedule.
HeinOnline: TIAS 11060–11500 | TIAS 11501–12000 | TIAS 12001–12500 | TIAS 12501–13000 |TIAS 1301-
This source is used to locate unpublished treaties and international agreements. KAV numbers, which are assigned by Igor I. Kavass, are a unique numbering system to assist in identifying those agreements that have been entered into force but have not yet been published in U.S.T. or T.I.A.S. Until a treaty is assigned a TIAS number by the State Department, KAV numbers are used to identify treaties and international agreements.
United Nations Treaty Series (U.N.T.S.)
The United Nations Treaty Series is a collection of treaties and international agreements that have been registered with the United Nations and published by the Secretariat since 1946. The series includes the texts of treaties in their authentic language(s), along with translations into English and French, as appropriate.
Westlaw and LexisNexis
Westlaw has complete full-text coverage of international treaties and agreements to which the United States is a party from 1778 to present. Besides treaties, it also includes State Department Documents and Treaty documents.
Treaty coverage on LexisNexis is from 1776 to present. It contains the text of ratified treaties, unratified treaties, and terminated, superseded, or abolished treaties that are useful for historical research.
It may be necessary to see where the treaty is in the ratification process or to see if a treaty has been amended or revised. The sources listed below provide this information.
Treaties are often ambiguous and interpretations may differ. To help clarify what the intent is, researchers can do a legislative history on a treaty. Below is a list of sources that can be consulted.
Senate Treaty Documents
Senate treaty documents contain the text of the proposed treaty, a statement from the President and Secretary of State, and other supporting documentation. Prior to 1979, these documents were called Senate Executive Documents.
After the Foreign Relations Committee has studied and held hearings on a treaty, they issue a Senate Executive Report. This is the most important document when conducting a legislative history because it contains the Committee's analysis and recommendations for the proposed treaty. The document also contains the text of the treaty and any amendments or reservations that the committee has recommended.
United States Congressional Serial Set: Y 1.1/2:
ProQuest Congressional (1979 – present)
Senate Executive Documents and Reports [microform]: KF42.2 .A55 1987 (1817–1969)
CIS index to US Senate Executive Documents & Reports: KF42.2 .A551 1987
GPO Access (104th Congress (1995–96) to present)
LexisNexis: Committee Reports (1990 to present)
U.S. Tax Treaties Reporter
This reporter contains the text of income and estate and gift tax treaties between the United States and other countries. This set contains official explanations of treaties and new developments on treaties already in existence and waiting to be ratified.
The IRS Website contains the text of selected income tax treaties.
Extradition Law and Treaties
This four volume set contains extradition treaties in force between the United States and other countries. Treaties are arranged by the country.
Location: K5443 .A2 U683 1980
Unperfected Treaties of the United States of America 1776–1976
This nine volume set contains treaties that the United States signed but never entered into force. It includes over 400 unperfected treaties. This source contains the text of the treaty and a paragraph explaining why it never went into force.
Location: S 9.12/2b
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