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Finding a Treaty Without a Citation

This is a guide to finding bilateral and multilateral agreements when you do not have a citation. It was created by Trinie Thai-Parker and is updated by Terri Saint-Amour.

Introduction to Treaty Research


This guide is designed to aid you in your treaty research when you lack a proper citation.  As no complete collection of treaties exists in print or online, you will have to conduct your research with a certain amount of creativity and perseverance. It is important to note, too, that treaties may be referred to by a variety of names (agreements, conventions, protocols, memorandums of understanding, exchanges of letters, et cetera).

In addition the sources listed in this guide, don’t neglect searching Hollis Classic directly for a particular treaty. It is useful to perform a title and/or keyword search as some treaties may be included as the appendix of a work, and are noted as such in the catalog.

*This guide was created by Trinie Thai-Parker and is maintained by Terri Saint-Amour.

Treaty Terminology

Useful Terminology Related to Treaties


Accession - formal adoption of the provisions of a treaty already agreed upon by other parties

Bilateral - a treaty between just two parties

Effective date - the date on which the provisions of the treaty take effect

Entry into force - the date on which the treaty formally becomes a legal obligation binding parties, usually a certain number of days after the last notification

Initialed - the stage when a treaty has been agreed by the negotiating representatives of all parties after which the treaty is submitted for approval at a political level

Multilateral - a treaty between more than two parties

Negotiation - this is the first step in the process of concluding a treaty and is usually carried out by representatives of the parties concerned

Parties - countries that have ratified a treaty and are bound by the terms of the treaty

Ratification - the completion of the formal process of approval of a treaty when one parties notifies the other parties of the ratification, after which that party is bound by the treaty

Reservation - a term or terms of a treaty objected to by a party

Signature - the stage at which a treaty has been approved by the government, making the government bound to uphold the treaty, although the treaty is not yet effective

Termination - the formal act of one or more parties to terminate the application of the treaty

Termination date - the date from which a treaty ceases to have effect