Considering the fundamental role of treaties in international relations and recognizing the importance of treaties as a source of international law, the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties was adopted in 1969. The Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties regulates the conclusion and entry into force of treaties, the application and interpretation of treaties as well as the amendment, invalidity and termination of treaties. According to Article 2 of this multilateral agreement, a 'treaty’ means 'an international agreement concluded between States in written form and governed by international law, whether embodied in a single instrument or in two or more related instruments and whatever its particular designation.’ A treaty concluded between one or more States and one or more international organizations, or between international organizations, can also be referred to as a treaty. According to Article 38 of the Statute of the International Court of Justice, 'international conventions, whether general or particular, establishing rules expressly recognized by the contesting states' must be applied by the Court, when deciding disputes that are submitted to it. From this one can conclude that treaties are one of the principal sources of public international law.
If you want to read (or download) the substance of a particular Treaty directly, please visit this database, provided by Oxford University Press.
This Research Guide is intended as a starting point for research on the Law of Treaties. It provides the basic legal materials available in the Peace Palace Library, both in print and electronic format. Handbooks, leading articles, bibliographies, periodicals, serial publications and documents of interest are presented in the Selective Bibliography section. Links to the PPL Catalogue are inserted. The Library's systematic classification index subject: 'Treaties' and subject heading (keyword) Treaties are instrumental for searching through the Catalogue. Special attention is given to our subscriptions on databases, e-journals, e-books and other electronic resources. Finally, this Research Guide features links to relevant websites and other online resources of particular interest.
- Aust, A., Modern Treaty Law and Practice, New York, Cambridge University Press, 2013.
- Cannizzaro, E. (et al.) (eds.), The Law of Treaties Beyond the Vienna Convention, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2011.
- Corten, O and P. Klein (eds.), The Vienna Conventions on the Law of Treaties: A Commentary, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2011.
- Corten, O. (ed.), Les conventions de Vienne sur le droit des traités: commentaire article par article, Bruxelles, Bruylant, 2006.
- Dörr, O. and K. Schmalenbach (eds.), Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties: a Commentary, Heidelberg , Springer, 2012.
- Gardiner, R., Treaty Interpretation, Second Edition, Oxford, United Kingdom, Oxford University Press, 2015.
- Karl, W., Vertrag und Spätere Praxis im Völkerrecht : zum Einfluß der Praxis auf Inhalt und Bestand Völkerrechtliche Verträge, Berlin, New York, Springer, 1983.
- de Oliveira Mazzuoli, V., The Law of Treaties: a Comprehensive Study of the 1969 Vienna Convention and Beyond, Foreword Paulo Pinto de Albuquerque, Translation from the Portuguese by Diego Luis Alonso, Rio de Janeiro, Editora Forense, 2016.
- McNair, A.D., The Law of Treaties, Oxford, The Clarendon Press, 1961.
- Villiger, M.E., Commentary on the 1969 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, Leiden, Nijhoff, 2009.
- Bianchi, A., D.Peat, M. Windsor (ed.), Interpretation in International Law, Oxford, New York, Oxford University Press, 2015.
- Linderfalk, U., On the Interpretation of Treaties: the Modern International Law as Expressed in the 1969 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, Dordrecht, Springer, 2010.
- McInerney, T.F., Strategic Treaty Management: Practice and Implications, Cambridge, United Kingdom, Cambridge University Press, 2015.
- Merkouris, P., Article 31(3)(c) VCLT and the Principle of Systems Integration: Normative Shadows in Plato's cave, Leiden, Boston, Brill Nijhoff, 2015.
- Oliveira Mazzuoli, V. de, Direito dos Tratados, São Paulo, Editora Revista dos Tribunais, 2011.
- Orakhelashvili, A., 40 Years of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, London, British Institute of International and Comparative law, 2010.
- Ranganathan, S., Strategically-Created Treaty Conflicts and the Politics of International Law, Cambridge, United Kingdom, Cambridge University Press, 2014.
- Ronzitti, N., Coercive diplomacy, sanctions and international law, Leiden : Boston, Brill Nijhoff, 2016.
- Szabó, M.(ed.), State Responsibility and the Law of Treaties, The Hague : Eleven International Publishing, 2010.
- Tams, C.J., A. Tzanakopoulos, A. Zimmerman (Eds.), Research Handbook on the Law of Treaties, Cheltenham, UK, Northampton, MA, USA, Edward Elgar, 2014.
- Törber, G., The Contractual Nature of the Optional Clause, Oxford, Portland, Oregon: Hart Publishing, 2015.
- Watts, A., The International Law Commission 1949-1998 ; Vol. 4: Treaties, Final Draft Articles, and Other Materials, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2010.
- Alvarez-Jimenez, A.,"The International Court of Justice's Use of the Vienna Convention in the Interpretation of Boundary Agreements 2000-2010", Journal of International Dispute Settlement, (2012), pp. 409-433.
- Arp, B., "Denunciation Followed by Re-Accession with Reservations to a Treaty: A Critical Appraisal of Contemporary State Practice", Netherlands International Law Review, 61 (2014), No. 2, pp. 141-165.
- Binder, C., "Stability and Change in Times of Fragmentation : the Limits of Pacta Sunt Servanda Revisited", Leiden Journal of International Law, 25 (2012), No. 4, pp. 909-934.
- Blutman, L., Treaty Interpretation by Relying Upon Other International Legal Norms, Hungarian Yearbook of International Law and European Law 2013, Portland, Eleven International Publishing, 2014, pp. 181-197.
- Cassella, S., "Le guide de la pratique sur les réserves aux traités: une nouvelle forme de codification?", Annuaire français de droit international, 58 (2012), pp. 29-60.
- Davis Mortenson, J., "The Travaux of Travaux : Is the Vienna Convention Hostile to Drafting History?, American Journal of International Law, 107 (2013), No. 4, pp. 780-822.
- Díaz Barrado, C.M.,"Tratados Internacionales y Conflictos Armados : Una Cuestión Siempre Pendiente", Revista española de derecho internacional, 64 (2012), No. 2, pp. 11-47.
- Fitzmaurice, M., "The Practical Working of the Law of Treaties", in M.D. Evans, International Law, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2010, pp. 172-199.
- Gowlland-Debbas, V., "The Role of the International Court of Justice in the Development of the Contemporary Law of Treaties", in C.J. Tams and J. Sloan (eds.), The development of International Law by the International Court of Justice, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2013, pp. 25-52.
- Guttierréz Baylon, J. de Dios., "Codificacion Contrafactual de la Convención de Viena sobre el Derecho de los Tratados", Revista de la Facultad de Derecho de México, 49 (2009), No. 252, pp. 133-148.
- Hafner, G., "The Drawbacks and Lacunae of the VCLT", in Hafner, G., F. Matscher and K. Schmalenbach (eds.), Völkerrecht und die Dynamik der Menschenrechte : Liber Amicorum Wolfram Karl,
- López Martín, A.G. (dir.), Carnerero Castilla, R. (et al.), "Los Tratados Internacionales: Su Formación, Su Aplicación y Su Final", in: Temas de Derecho Internacional Público, Madrid, Servicio Publicaciones Facultad Derecho, Universidad Complutense, 2011, pp. 87-169.
- Murphy, S.D., The Relevance of Subsequent Agreement and Subsequent Practice for the Interpretation of Treaties, in G. Nolte (ed.), Treaties and Subsequent Practice, Oxford, Oxford University Press 2013, pp. 82-94.
- Novak, F., "Las Reglas de Interpretación de los Tratados", in Torres Bernárdez, S. (et al.) (eds.), El Derecho Internacional en el Mundo Multipolar del Siglo XXI : Obra Homenaje al Profesor Luis Ignacio Sánchez Rodríguez, Madrid, Iprolex, 2013, pp. 151-173.
- Rey Caro, E.J., El Derecho de los tratados en los pronunciamientos de los tribunales del Mercosur, in S. Torres Bernárdez (et al), El derecho internacional en el mundo multipolar del siglo XXI : obra homenaje al profesor Luis Ignacio Sánchez RodríguezMadrid, Iprolex, 2013, pp. 189-200.
- Thiele, C., "El Régimen Jurídico Internacional de la Base Naval Estadounidense de Guantánamo en Cuba", in G.E. Andrés, D. Pavón Piscitello and R.A. Prieto Sanjuán (eds.), Guantánamo y el Imperio del Derecho, Medellín, Biblioteca Jurídica Diké, 2010, pp. 29-61.
- Villiger, M., "The 1969 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties: 40 Years After", 344 Recueil des cours, (2011), pp. 9-192.
- Wittich, S., "The PCIJ and the Modern International Law of Treaties", in C.J. Tams and M. Fitzmaurice (eds.), Legacies of the Permanent Court of International Justice, Leiden, Nijhoff, 2013, pp. 89-121.
- Zemanek, K., "Die Wiener Vertragsrechtskonvention ist nicht in Stein gemeißelt", in Hafner, G., F. Matscher and K. Schmalenbach (eds.), Völkerrecht und die Dynamik der Menschenrechte : Liber Amicorum Wolfram Karl,Wien, Facultas.wuv, 2012, pp. 450-462.
Periodicals, serial publications, special issues
1. Zagadnienia prawa traktatów w aktualnych pracach Komisji Prawa Międzynarodowego Organizacji Narodów Zjednoczonych
Keywords: United Nations, International Law Commission, Law of treaties,
Djeffal, C., Static and Evolutive Treaty Interpretation: a Functional Reconstruction, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016.View this title in our link resolver Plinklet
- How should international treaties be interpreted over time? This book offers fresh insights on this age-old question. The Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties (VCLT) sets out the rules for interpretation, stipulating that treaties should be interpreted inter alia according to the 'ordinary meaning' of the text. Evolutive interpretation has been considered since the times of Gentili and Grotius, but this is the first book to systematically address what evolutive interpretation looks like in reality. It sets out to address how and under what circumstances it can be said that the interpretation of a treaty evolves, and under what circumstances it remains static. With the VCLT as its point of departure, this study develops a functional reconstruction of the rules of treaty interpretation, and explores and analyses how the International Court of Justice and the European Court of Human Rights have approached the issue.
Törber, G., The Contractual Nature of the Optional Clause, Oxford, Portland, Oregon: Hart Publishing, 2015.View this title in our link resolver Plinklet
The International Law Commission’s Guiding Principles for Unilateral Declarations and its Guide to Practice on Reservations to Treaties are among the recent developments in international law. These developments support a new assessment on how optional clauses (eg Art 62(1) of the American Convention on Human Rights) and especially the Optional Clause (Art 36(2) of the Statute of the International Court of Justice (ICJ)) can be characterised and treated. The question is in how far optional clauses and the respective declarations can be considered a multilateral treaty or a bundle of unilateral declarations and to what extent one of the corresponding regimes applies.
Based on inter alia on the jurisprudence of the Permanent Court of International Justice and the ICJ on the Optional Clause, but also on the relevant jurisprudence of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and the European Court of Human Rights and the General Comments of the United Nations Human Rights Committee, this book provides a comprehensive assessment of all legal issues regarding the Optional Clause and also optional clauses in general. The book deals with the making of Optional Clause declarations, the interpretation of such declarations and reservations made to the declarations as well as the withdrawal or amendment of declarations.
Oliveira Mazzuoli, V. de, The Law of Treaties: A Comprehensive Study of the 1969 Vienna Convention and Beyond, Rio de Janeiro, Editora Forense, 2016.View this title in our link resolver Plinklet
The extraordinary growth in the number of international treaties concluded in recent decades has made awakening around the world to study the Law of Treaties. In Brazil, in particular, the issue has gained greater prominence only recently, due to the delayed ratification of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties. In fact, since the signing of the Convention on 23 May 1969, more than forty years passed before the final engagement of Brazil to the text of Vienna, which took place only on 25 September 2009. This book - which is the first to be published between us after the Brazilian ratification of the Vienna Convention of 1969 - come fill this large gap in the homeland doctrine. Written by one of the most respected Brazilian internationalist, the book that now reaches the hands of readers versa with depth on all issues related to the theory of treaties, as shown by the detailed summary. Each subject studied in the work deserved harsh treatment, since the precise use of words in the text and the methodological rigor used up the reasons for each point versed with what is best in doctrinal level in the world.
Gardiner, R., Treaty Interpretation, Second Edition, Oxford, United Kingdom, Oxford University Press, 2015.View this title in our link resolver Plinklet
This book explains the rules for interpretation of treaties and gives examples of their application in national and international jurisdictions. The rules of treaty interpretation codified in the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties now apply to virtually all treaties which may be encountered in an international context and also within national legal systems where treaties have an impact on a large and growing range of matters. The rules of treaty interpretation differ somewhat from typical rules for interpreting legal instruments and legislation within national legal systems. Lawyers, and also some administrators, diplomats, and officials at international organizations, are increasingly likely to encounter issues of treaty interpretation which require not only knowledge of the relevant rules of interpretation, but also how these rules have been, and are to be, applied in practice. Now that the codified rules of treaty interpretation have been in force for some twenty-five years, there is a considerable body of case law on their application. This case law, combined with the history and analysis of the rules of treaty interpretation, provides a basis for understanding this most important task in the application of treaties internationally and within national systems of law.
Merkouris, P., Article 31(3)(c) VCLT and the Principle of Systems Integration: Normative Shadows in Plato's cave, Leiden, Boston, Brill Nijhoff, 2015.View this title in our link resolver Plinklet
In Article 31(3)(c) VCLT and the Principle of Systemic Integration: Normative Shadows in Plato’s Cave the author tackles a provision on treaty interpretation that has risen in prominence, Article 31(3)(c) VCLT. This article, which enshrines the principle of systemic integration, and its exact scope has become and continues to be a hotly debated subject in academic and judicial circles.
Through an examination of both its written and unwritten elements, the author argues that the ‘proximity criterion’ is the optimal way of understanding and utilizing this provision, that conflict resolution principles may be of use within Article 31(3)(c) and finally, that the principle of systemic integration is indispensable not only for interpreting treaty provisions but customary international law as well.
Bianchi, A., D. Peat, M. Windsor (eds.), Interpretation in International Law, Oxford, New York, Oxford University Press, 2015.View this title in our link resolver Plinklet
The relevance of interpretation to the academic study and professional practice of international law is self-evident. As new insights on the practice and process of interpretation abound in other disciplines, international law and international lawyers have largely remained wedded to a rule-based approach, focusing almost exclusively on the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties. Such an approach neglects interpretation as a distinct and admittedly broader field of theoretical inquiry. Interpretation in International Law brings together established and emerging international legal scholars to interrogate interpretation as a central concept in international law. The edited collection is creatively structured around the metaphor of the game, which captures and illuminates all the constituent elements of an act of interpretation. The object of the game of interpretation is to persuade one's audience that your own interpretation of the law is the correct one. The rules of play are known and complied with by the players, even though which cards to play is left to the skills and strategies of the individual players. There is also a meta-discourse about the game of interpretation 'playing the game of game-playing' which involves reflection about the nature of the game, its underlying stakes, and who gets to decide by what rules one should play. Through a series of diverse contributions, Interpretation in International Law reveals interpretation as an inescapable feature of all areas of international law. It will be of interest and utility to all international lawyers whose work touches upon theoretical or practical aspects of interpretation.
- Council of Europe Treaty Series
- HeinOnline Treaties and Agreements Library
- Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law, Pacta Sunt Servanda, by Anthony Aust.
- Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law, Treaties, by Malgosia Fitzmaurice.
- Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law, Treaties, Conclusion and Entry into Force, by Jan Klabbers.
- Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law, Treaties, Object and Purpose, by Jan Klabbers.
- Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law, Treaties, Registration and Publication, by Richard Caddell.
- Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law, Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties (1969), by Anthony Aust.
- UN Audiovisual Library of International Law. Lectures on the Law of Treaties. The Lecture Series contains a permanent collection of lectures of enduring value on virtually every subject of international law given by leading international law scholars and practitioners from different regions, legal systems, cultures and sectors of the legal profession. Lectures on the Law of Treaties (Depositary Functions; Interpretation and Registration) by Ms. Annebeth Rosenboom and Mr. Jan Klabbers.
- United Nations Treaty Series
The Peace of Christmas Eve
Peace is an elusive thing. For many, the attraction of the Christmas season is the momentary fulfillment of that dream, the wonderful moment of ‘Peace on Earth’. For one night, it seems possible. As Christmas approaches, we experience a sense of ‘Peace on Earth’. A few times in history, this sense of peace at Christmas had real impact on human affairs. A little known example is the the signing of the Treaty of Ghent on Christmas Eve, December 24, 1814, ending a war, the War of 1812, between the United States and the British Empire and their allies.Read more
- International Law Commission Draft Articles on the Law of Treaties with commentaries, 1966
- International Law of Treaties (an Introduction to International Treaty Law, by Walter Gehr)
- Treaties, UBCLibraries
- Reservations to Treaties, ILC Guide (2011)
- Resource Guide on Treaties, ASIL
- Search Strategies : Researching Treaties and Other International Agreements, by Ceceile Kay Richter
- United Nations Conference on the Law of Treaties, 1968-1969
- United Nations Treaty Collection
- United Nations Treaty Reference Guide, Definition of Key Terms
- Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties 1969
- Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties between States and International Organizations or between International Organizations
- Council of Europe Treaty Series
- International Law Commission on Law of Treaties
- International Law Commission on Reservations to Treaties
- International Law Commission on Treaties concluded between States and International Organizations
More Research guides on Public International Law
- Customary International Law
- History of International Law
- Public International Law
- Subjects of International Law