Treaty Finding Aids
Tips To Apply Rule 21.4 (Treaties) of The Bluebook
1. If you do not know what the abbreviations in rule 21.4: Treaties stand for, Table 4 of The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation (Columbia Law Review Ass'n et al. eds., 20th ed. 2015) provides full titles of abbreviated treaty sources.
2. To apply rule 21.4, determine whether the U.S. is a party to the treaty.
Sources that answer this threshold question:
- United Nations Treaty Collection, MTDSG: Status of Treaties
- Provides cites/parties to multilateral treaties registered or filed with the United Nations.
- Access INDEX and enter words in a treaty's title or keywords.
- U.S. Department of State, Treaties in Force
- Provides cites to treaties currently in force to which the U.S. is a party.
- If Treaties in Force index does not reference a particular U.S. treaty, contact the Department of State's Office of Treaty Affairs.
- Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, University of London (host), Flare Index to Treaties
- Provides cites to 2,000+ multilateral treaties (scope: 1856-).
- Cites include Bluebook-preferred sources.
- WestlawNext: Law Reviews & Journals
- Search by a treaty's title or popular name and note how scholarly legal journals have cited to the treaty.
3. If you find a cite to the treaty, copy the cite.
4. If the U.S. is a party to the treaty, apply either rule 21.4.5(a)(i) [primarily: bilateral treaties] or rule 21.4.5(a)(ii) [multilateral treaties].
5. If the U.S. is not a party to the treaty, apply rule 21.4.5(b).
- Requires researchers to cite to one source published by an international organization.
- If a treaty does not appear in a source published by an international organization, researchers can cite to the treaty in the unofficial document collection: International Legal Materials (I.L.M.). Finally, if a treaty does not appear in International Legal Materials, researchers can cite to the treaty as posted at a government's website, an intergovernmental body's website, or other sources listed on p. 206 of The Bluebook.
Components of a Bluebook-compliant Cite
Components of a Bluebook-compliant treaty cite:
- Treaty name
- Abbreviated names of treaty parties (include only if treaty is between 2 parties)
- Reference to a specific treaty article (example: art. 1) or subdivision, if you wish to create a pinpont cite
- Date of signing (or date opened for signature)
- Treaty source or sources
Bilateral treaty & U.S. is a party:
Convention for the Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with Respect to Taxes on Income, U.S.-Austl., art. 1, Aug. 6, 1982, 35 U.S.T. 1999.
Multilateral treaty & U.S. is a party:
Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, Including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies art. 6, Jan. 27, 1967, 18 U.S.T. 2410, 610 U.N.T.S. 205.
Multilateral treaty & U.S. is not a party:
Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties art. 32, May 23, 1969, 1155 U.N.T.S. 331.
Consolidated Version of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union art. 122(2), Mar. 30, 2010, 2010 O.J. (C 83) 47.