Treaties

Introduction

Updated: November 12, 2018 (Bibliography).

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 → 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.


Bibliography

Reference works

Books

Articles

Periodicals, serial publications

Systematic classification → Public international law

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  • Buga, I., Modification of Treaties by Subsequent Practice, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2018. [e-book]

    Buga, I., Modification of Treaties by Subsequent Practice, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2018.

    Treaties must undergo transformation and modernization to reflect changing norms and developments in international law. But treaties can be notoriously difficult to amend by formal means. One crucial way in which treaty evolution takes place is through subsequent practice, a well-established tool for treaty interpretation. While its initial aim is to shed light on the parties’ original intention, over time, subsequent practice acquires a force of its own and may come to evidence their contemporary understanding of the treaty. Subsequent practice may even diverge so far from treaty provisions that it can no longer be said to constitute an act of treaty interpretation, but becomes, in effect, one of modification. Furthermore, such practice can give rise to new norms of customary international law, which, in turn, may impact pre-existing treaty provisions. The modification of treaties by subsequent practice extends to all fields of international law, from the law of the sea, environmental law, and investment law, to humanitarian law and human rights. Such modifications can have significant practical consequences, from revising or creating new rights and obligations, to establishing new institutional mechanisms. Determining the point when the ‘switch’ from treaty interpretation to treaty modification occurs, however, is itself an act of interpretation. It poses difficulty to legal scholars and dispute settlement bodies alike, especially in light of the silence of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties on this point, and impacts States’ expectations as to their treaty obligations. This book addresses this insufficiently explored issue of international significance.

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  • Popa, L.E., Patterns of Treaty Interpretation as Anti-Fragmentation Tools: A Comparative Analysis with a Special Focus on the ECtHR, WTO and ICJ, Cham, Springer, 2018.

    Popa, L.E., Patterns of Treaty Interpretation as Anti-Fragmentation Tools: A Comparative Analysis with a Special Focus on the ECtHR, WTO and ICJ, Cham, Springer, 2018.

    This book investigates whether treaty interpretation at the ECtHR and WTO, which are sometimes perceived as promoting ‘self-contained’ regimes, could constitute a means for unifying international law, or, conversely, might exacerbate the fragmentation of international law. In this regard, the practice of the ICJ on treaty interpretation is used for comparison, since the ICJ has made the greatest contribution to the development and clarification of international law rules and principles. Providing a critical analysis of cases at the ICJ, ECtHR and WTO, both prior to and since the adoption of the 1969 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, the book reveals how the ECtHR and WTO apply the general rules of treaty interpretation in patterns which are similar to those used by the ICJ to address difficulties in interpreting the text of treaties. Viewed in the light of the ECtHR’s and WTO’s interpretative practices, both the VCLT’s general rules of interpretation and the ICJ’s interpretative practice serve to counteract the fragmentation of international law.

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  • Dörr, O. and K. Schmalenbach (eds.), Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties: a Commentary (2nd ed.), Heidelberg , Springer, 2018.

    Dörr, O. and K. Schmalenbach (eds.), Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties: a Commentary (2nd ed.), Heidelberg , Springer, 2018.

    The Commentary on the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties provides an in-depth article-by-article analysis of all of the Vienna Convention's provisions. Each provision's analysis consists of (I) Purpose and Function of the Article, (II) Historical Background with Negotiating History, (III) Elements of the Article and finally (IV) Treaties of International Organizations. In short, the present Commentary contains a comprehensive legal analysis of all aspects of the international law of treaties. Furthermore, where the law of treaties reaches into other fields of international law, e.g. the law of state responsibility, the relevant interfaces are discussed and contextualized. With its focus on international practice, the Commentary is an invaluable reference for both academia and practitioners of international law.

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  • Lo, Chang fa, Treaty Interpretation Under the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties: A New Round of Codification, Singapore, Springer, 2017. [e-book]

    Lo, Chang fa, Treaty Interpretation Under the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties: A New Round of Codification, Singapore, Springer, 2017.

    This book is devoted to an idea of a second round of codification of certain new rules for treaty interpretation. Currently, treaty interpretation is guided by Articles 31 through 33 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties (VCLT). The fundamental rule is that a treaty shall be interpreted in good faith in accordance with the ordinary meaning to be given to the terms of the treaty in their context and in the light of its object and purpose. These rules lay the foundation for treaty interpretation. They represent the first round of codification of the contents of some previous customary international law rules. The book argues that the current rules are overly simplified. After almost fifty years of codification of the VCLT, the codified text in it is practically insufficient in addressing some traditional treaty interpretation issues (such as the interpretation involving time factors or technology development) and in coping with some new development of international law (such as the diversification and fragmentation of international treaties) and new challenges (such as the need of coordination between different treaties and the need of introducing external values, including human rights, into a treaty through treaty interpretation process). The book further argues that there is a need to have a second round of codification so as to incorporate new rules into the VCLT to be followed by treaty interpreters to make treaty interpretation more consistent and transparent, and more in line with the shared value of international community. The book proposes the contents of certain new rules to be considered as the new codified rules for treaty interpretation.

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Database

Blogs

  • The Treaties of Ryswick (1697)

    In 1697, the Huis ter Nieuburch in Rijswijk was the scene of the negotiations which led to so-called “Peace of Ryswick”. These negotiations sought to end the Nine-Years War between France on one side and the Grand Alliance of Spain, England, The Dutch Republic and The Holy Roman Empire. The Peace Treaty of Rijswijk was not a single document but consisted of a number of treaties which were signed during the months of September and October 1697. The treaties have been scanned in order to familiarize researchers with our historical collection.

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  • Wake up call for Europe

    Last Thursday, June 23, the British people voted to leave the European Union in an unprecedented referendum about membership of the European Union. According to the official result 51.9% of the registered voters choose to leave against 48.1% who wanted the United Kingdom to remain a member of the European Union. This blog will assess certain aspects of the outcome of the referendum and will try to clarify what the next steps of the so-called Brexit are.

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  • 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.

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