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United States Bilateral Treaties   Tags: international_law, treaties, united_nations  

A guide to locating and updating U.S. Bilateral Treaties using materials available in the UCLA Law Library, as well as online.
Last Updated: Mar 4, 2010 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

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A treaty is a formal agreement between two or more countries or international organizations that is intended to be legally binding and is governed by international law.1 Other terms used to describe a treaty are act, accord, agreement, convention, covenant, etc. When a treaty is made between two countries, it is called bilateral, and when more than two countries are involved, it is called multilateral. This research guide will focus on bilateral treaties where the United States is a party.

In the United States, treaties are the law of the land and have the force of statutes.2 United States Treaties are initiated, drafted, and negotiated to agreement by the executive branch, but require approval by two-thirds of the Senate.3 Once a treaty is approved by the Senate, the President has discretion whether to ratify it.4 However, if the President does ratify a treaty, he must give effect to the conditions imposed by the Senate on its consent.5

A treaty enters into force for the United States when the President, with the advice and consent of the Senate, ratifies it or otherwise gives official notification of assent to it, provided the agreement is also in force internationally.6

As of January 1, 1950, United States treaties, by law, must be published first in pamphlets known as Treaties and Other International Acts Series (TIAS) and later in bound volumes known as United States Treaties and Other International Agreements (UST).7 TIAS and UST are five and ten years behind schedule, respectively. Finally, treaties must also be registered with the Secretary General of the United Nations.8

The remainder of this guide will provide various access points for locating and updating United States bilateral treaties in the UCLA Law Library and via online and electronic sources.


1 Restatement Third (Third) of Foreign Relations Law § 301 (1987).
2 U.S. Constitution Art. VI, cl. 2.
3 U.S. Constitution Art. II, § 2.
4 Restatement Third (Third) of Foreign Relations Law § 303 cmt. d (1987).
5 Id. at § 314, cmt. b.
6 Id. at § 312, cmt. j.
7 1 U.S.C. 112a(a) (2000).
8 UN Charter, Art. 102.

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