Updated: December 11, 2018 (Bibliography and Librarian's choice).
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.
- 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.
- Dörr, O., and K. Schmalenbach (eds.), Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties: a Commentary (2nd ed.), Heidelberg , Springer, 2018. [e-book]
- Gardiner, R., Treaty Interpretation (2nd ed.), Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2017.
- Hollis, D.B. (ed.), The Oxford Guide to Treaties, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2012.
- Oliveira Mazzuoli, V. de, The Law of Treaties: A Comprehensive Study of the 1969 Vienna Convention and Beyond, 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.
- Pergantis, V., The Paradigm of State Consent in the Law of Treaties: Challenges and Perspectives, Cheltenham, Edward Elgar Publishing, 2017.
- Bianchi, A., D.Peat, M. Windsor (ed.), Interpretation in International Law, Oxford, New York, Oxford University Press, 2015.
- Bowman, M.J., and D. Kritsiotis (eds.), Conceptual and Contextual Perspectives on the Modern Law of Treaties, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2018. [e-book] Dec.
- Buga, I., Modification of Treaties by Subsequent Practice, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2018. [e-book]
- Joyner, D.H., Iran's Nuclear Program and International Law: From Confrontation to Accord, New York, NY, Oxford University Press, 2016.
- Djeffal, C., Static and Evolutive Treaty Interpretation: A Functional Reconstruction, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2016. [e-book]
- Kolb, R., The Law of Treaties: an Introduction, Cheltenham, UK : Northampton, MA, USA, Edward Elgar Publishing, 2016.
- 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.
- Lo, Chang fa, Treaty Interpretation Under the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties: A New Round of Codification, Singapore, Springer, 2017. [e-book]
- McInerney, T.F., Strategic Treaty Management: Practice and Implications, Cambridge, United Kingdom, Cambridge University Press, 2015.
- 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.
- Ranganathan, S., Strategically-Created Treaty Conflicts and the Politics of International Law, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2014.
- Ronzitti, N., Coercive diplomacy, sanctions and international law, Leiden, Brill Nijhoff, 2016.
- Sloss, D.L., The Death of Treaty Supremacy: An Invisible Constitutional Change, New York, NY, Oxford University Press, 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, Edward Elgar, 2014.
- Törber, G., The Contractual Nature of the Optional Clause, Oxford, 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.
- Azaria, D., “Secret Treaties in International Law and the Faith of States in Decentralized Enforcement”, AJIL Unbound, 111 (2018), pp. 469-473. [e-article]
- Binder, C., and C.M. Brölmann, “The Law of Treaties Before Domestic Courts and Human Rights Bodies”, in A. Reinisch and R. Janik (eds.), International Law in Domestic Courts Casebook, Oxford University Press, 2018, Forthcoming; Amsterdam Law School Research Paper No. 2017-41; Amsterdam Center for International Law No. 2017-27, Oct. 2017. [PDF]
- Bjorklund, A.K., “The Enduring but Unwelcome Role of Party Intent in Treaty Interpretation”, AJIL Unbound, 112 (2018), pp. 44-48. [e-article]
- Bradley, C.A., “Treaty Signature”, in D. Hollis (ed.), The Oxford Guide to Treaties, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2012, pp. 208-219. [e-article]
- Bradley, C.A., “Exiting Congressional-Executive Agreements”, Duke Law Journal, 67 (2018), No. 8, pp. 1615-1645. [e-article]
- Chatinakrob, T., “The Significance of Subsequent Agreements and Practice of the 1969 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties in the Development of International Law: The Analysis of the Notable Navigational and Related Rights and Whaling Decision”, Journal of Law, Policy and Globalization, 74 (2018), pp. 26-36. [PDF]
- Crawford, J., “The Current Political Discourse Concerning International Law”, Modern Law Review, 81 (2018), No. 1, pp. 1-22. [PDF]
- Crootof, R., “Change Without Consent: How Customary International Law Modifies Treaties”, Yale Journal of International Law, 41 (2016), No. 2, pp. 237-299.
- Djeffal, C., “The International Court of Justice: Peacemakers and Disputants”, in ibid., Static and Evolutive Treaty Interpretation: A Functional Reconstruction, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2015, pp. 214-271.
- Donaldson, M., “The Survival of the Secret Treaty: Publicity, Secrecy, and Legality in the International Order”, American Journal of International Law, 111 (2017), No. 3, pp. 575-627. [e-article]
- Dothan, S., “The Three Traditional Approaches to Treaty Interpretation: A Current Application to the European Court of Human Rights”, iCourts Working Paper Series No. 141 (August 30, 2018); Forthcoming in Fordham International Law Journal. [PDF]
- Durand, P., “How and why the European Union Makes Reservations to International Agreements”, Common Market Law Review, 55 (2018), No. 5, pp. 1387-1422. [e-article]
- Fitzmaurice, M., “Third Parties and the Law of Treaties”, Max Planck Yearbook of United Nations Law, 6 (2002), pp. 37-137.
- Fitzmaurice, M., "The Practical Working of the Law of Treaties", in M.D. Evans, International Law, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2010, pp. 172-199.
- Fitzmaurice, M., “Concept of a Treaty in Decisions of International Courts and Tribunals”, International Community Law Review, 20 (2018), No. 2, pp. 137-168. [e-article]
- Ginsburg, T., “Objections to Treaty Reservations: A Comparative Approach to Decentralized Interpretation”, in A.E. Roberts (et al.) (eds.), Comparative International Law, New York, NY, Oxford University Press, 2018, pp. 231-250. [e-article] Nov.
- 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.
- Hafner, G., and G. Novak, “State Succession in Respect of Treaties”, in D.B. Hollis (ed.), The Oxford Guide to Treaties, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2012, pp. 396-427.
- Helfer, L.R., “Exiting Treaties”, Virginia Law Review, 91 (2005), pp. 1579-1648. [e-article]
- Helfer, L.R., “Terminating Treaties”, in D.B. Hollis (ed.), The Oxford Guide to Treaties, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2012, pp. 634-649. [e-article]
- Helfer, L.R., “Treaty Exit and Intra-Branch Conflict at the Interface of International and Domestic Law”, in C.A. Bradley (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Comparative Foreign Relations Law, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2018, Forthcoming. [e-article]
- Linderfalk, U., “Treaty Abuse: Why Criticism of the Doctrine is Unfounded”, Journal of International Dispute Settlement, 9 (2018), No. 2, pp. 254–290. [e-article]
- Mertenskötter, P., and R.B. Stewart, “Remote Control: Treaty Requirements for Regulatory Procedures", NYU School of Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 18-27 (March 21, 2018); Forthcoming in Cornell Law Review, 104 (2018). [PDF]
- Merkouris, P., "Interpreting the Customary Rules on Interpretation", International Community Law Review, 19 (2017), No. 1, pp. 126-155.
- Mitchell, A.D., and T. Voon, “The Rule of Necessary Implication”, 2017 draft for inclusion in J. Klingler (et al.) (eds), Canons of Construction and Other Interpretive Principles in Public International Law, Wolters Kluwer, 2018 Forthcoming. [PDF]
- 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.
- Nyarko, J., “Giving the Treaty a Purpose: Comparing the Durability of Treaties and Executive Agreements”, March 2018. [PDF]
- Parisi, F., and D. Pi, “Economic Analysis of International Treaty Law” (June 1, 2016). Minnesota Legal Studies Research Paper No. 16-19, June 2016. [PDF]
- Popa, L.E., “The Holistic Interpretation of Treaties at the International Court of Justice”, Nordic Journal of International Law, 87 (2018), No. 2, pp. 249-343. Nov.
- Verdier, P.-H., and M. Versteeg, “Separation of Powers, Treaty-Making, and Treaty Withdrawal: A Global Survey”, in C.A. Bradley (ed.), Oxford Handbook of Comparative Foreign Relations Law, 2019, Forthcoming; Virginia Public Law and Legal Theory Research Paper No. 2018-56. [PDF] Nov.
- Villiger, M., "The 1969 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties: 40 Years After", 344 Recueil des cours, (2011), pp. 9-192.
- Waibel, M., “The Origins of Interpretive Canons in Domestic Legal Systems”, University of Cambridge Faculty of Law Research Paper No. 27/2018; Forthcoming in J Klinger (et al.) (eds), Between the Lines of the Vienna Convention: Canons of Construction and Other Interpretive Principles in Public International Law: A Practitioners' Handbook. [PDF]
- 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.
- International Law Commission, Analytical Guide to the work of the ILC on Subsequent Agreements and Subsequent Practice in Relation to Interpretation of Treaties, Seventieth Session, 2018.
- International Law Commission, Analytical Guide to the work of the ILC on Provisional Application of Treaties, Seventieth Session, 2018.
Periodicals, serial publications
Systematic classification → Public international law
Bowman, M.J., and D. Kritsiotis (eds.), Conceptual and Contextual Perspectives on the Modern Law of Treaties, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2018. [e-book]View this title in our discovery service
In recent years there has been a flourishing body of work on the Law of Treaties, crucial for all fields within international law. However, scholarship on modern treaty law falls into two distinct strands which have not previously been effectively synthesized. One concerns the investigation of concepts which are fundamental to or inherent in the law of treaties generally - such as consent, object and purpose, breach of obligation and provisional application - while the other focuses upon the application of treaties and of treaty law in particular substantive (e.g. human rights, international humanitarian law, investment protection, environmental regulation) or institutional contexts (including the Security Council, the World Health Organization, the International Labour Organization and the World Trade Organization). This volume represents the culmination of a series of collaborative explorations by leading experts into the operation, development and effectiveness of the modern law of treaties, as viewed through these contrasting perspectives.
Buga, I., Modification of Treaties by Subsequent Practice, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2018. [e-book]View this title in our discovery service
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.
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.View this title in our discovery service
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.
Dörr, O. and K. Schmalenbach (eds.), Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties: a Commentary (2nd ed.), Heidelberg , Springer, 2018.View this title in our discovery service
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.
Lo, Chang fa, Treaty Interpretation Under the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties: A New Round of Codification, Singapore, Springer, 2017. [e-book]View this title in our discovery service
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.
- Council of Europe Treaty Series
- HeinOnline Treaties and Agreements Library
- Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law
- 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
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.Read more
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.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