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Law - Treaty Research

This guide provides a selective list of electronic and print resources to assist in doing treaty research.


Treaties are written international agreements between parties such as independent states and international organizations. They are governed by international law, and form the basis of relations between governments. These agreements may be made between two states (bilateral) or many states (multilateral).

Treaties may take various forms and titles, e.g., "convention", "agreement", "protocol", "executive agreement", "exchange of notes" or "exchange of letters." They usually consist of a title, a preamble, recitals, a series of numbered articles and a conclusion, immediately followed by signatures. A signing party (signatory) is obliged to observe the provisions of a treaty once it has consented to be bound by it, or from a specified date following that consent. Consent to be bound by a treaty may be indicated by a definitive signature, or via signature confirmed by a later step such as ratification or approval, or by accession (or acceptance or adhesion) of the treaty.

Treaties may be concluded on any subject where international co-operation or action is appropriate. Most of the law relating to treaties is set out in the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, 1969. Canada is a party to this Convention and consented to be bound by it.

This guide provides a selective list of electronic and print resources to assist you in doing treaty research.

(Since treaties must be considered in the context of international law, see also International Law guide.)