Western Libraries

Government Publications - Treaties

What are treaties?

Treaties are documents published by two or more governments and are issued to ratify an agreement of mutual concern.  Bilateral treaties are usually published by the equivalent of a Department of External Affairs.  They appear in a Treaty Series, which are bound annually with an index; often they include periodic cumulative indexing.

Some multilateral (and bilateral) treaties are issued under the authority of international organizations such as the United Nations, Organization of American States, European Economic Community or G.A.T.T. (General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade).  These will be found in the treaty series of that organization.

In addition, there are many documents affecting relations between nations, which do not have the legal status as treaties. These include protocols, conventions, agreements, disputes, and so on.

To find a treaty consult indexes, printed treaty sets and online treaty sources. 

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