Frequently Asked Questions: Researching Treaties

How can I check the status and the parties to a treaty?

The official source of information on the status of a treaty (which parties have ratified or acceded, what date it comes into force, what reservations particular parties have made etc.) is the depositary body named in the treaty. The depositary body can be consulted if the information is not easily found in the published indexes, online or in the treaty itself.

Free web sources


FCO website - www.fco.gov.uk/en/about-us/publications-and-documents/treaties/depositary - this has the text of those treaties for which the UK is the official depositary. Details of their status and parties is given.


UN Treaty series website - http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ParticipationStatus.aspx - this section of the UN website provides information on the status of over 500 major multilateral instruments deposited with the Secretary-General of the United Nations.


Council of Europe treaties - http://conventions.coe.int/ - has a chart of signatures and ratifications and a list of declarations, reservations and other communications. This provides both full text and summaries of the complete European Treaty Series (ETS) 1949-2003, and its continuation the Council of Europe Treaty Series (CETS) 2004 onwards.


Treaties Office of DG External Relations of the European Commission - http://ec.europa.eu/world/agreements/default.home.do - this gives full status information of all the bilateral and multilateral treaties or agreements concluded by the European Community, the European Atomic Energy Community (EAEC) and the former European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), and those concluded under the Treaty on European Union.


Hard copy sources


Multilateral Treaties: Index and Current Status by Bowman and Harris (1984, supplement 1993) - this will give information on entry into force, duration, reservations, parties, signatories.


Index to British Treaties by Parry (1970) - gives information on the date of signing, entry into force, duration and parties.


Multilateral Treaty Calendar by Wiktor (1998) - gives information on the date of signing, entry into force, parties, duration etc.


The texts mentioned above are not up to date. Contact the FCO to get up to date status information for UK treaties. The FCO contact details are: tel: 020 7008 1109; email: treaty.fco@gtnet.gov.uk

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