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What is a Treaty?

A treaty is an agreement between States (countries) which is binding at international law. In some cases international organisations can be parties to treaties. An agreement between an Australian State or Territory and a foreign Government will not, therefore, be a treaty. Even if a document is agreed between two or more sovereign countries, it will not be a treaty unless those countries intend the document to be binding at international law. A treaty may also be called a ‘treaty', ‘convention', ‘protocol', ‘covenant' or ‘exchange of letters'.

Treaties can be bilateral (between two countries) or multilateral (between three or more countries).

For more information about treaties, read about the Treaty making process from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Cth).

Treaties online

The Flare index to treaties is a searchable database of basic information on over 1,500 of the most significant multilateral treaties from 1856 to the present, with details of where the full text of each treaty may be obtained in paper and, if available, electronic form on the Internet.

It includes only the most significant treaties, conventions and agreements with at least three parties. Bilateral treaties are not included. The selection has been based on entries in Multilateral Treaties: index and current status, compiled and annotated within the University of Nottingham Treaty Centre by M.J. Bowman and D.J. Harris, and International Legal Materials (American Society of International Law, 1962-)

A searchable database of treaties to which Australia is a signatory, or where Australia has taken other related action.

For United States material in the search box start typing united states treaties and in the dropdown box click on United States Treaties and Other International Agreements.  Use the search box to find a specific treaty.

For other jurisdictions select International Materials  on the home page and in the search box type treaties.

United States, international and tax treaties can be accessed through International Law > Find Treaties & International Agreements.

Includes all multilateral treaties deposited with the Secretary-General of the United Nations and, those formerly deposited with the League of Nations, and their latest status.

Refworld is a portal created and maintained by the UNHCR - the UN Refugee Agency.  Use Refworld for finding Articles, Treaties and Conventions, but also as a way to clarify the citation of UN Documents.

Official site of the European Union which provides access to the following:

  • original versions of treaties
  • amending treaties
  • consolidated texts of treaties and
  • other related documents.

Access to treaties series such as Pacific Islands Treaty Series, League of Nations Treaty Series, Macau, New Zealand, Ireland, Singapore, UK and the Council of Europe.

This library includes all United States treaties, which includes those currently in-force, expired, or not yet officially published.

To access this library choose Browse database by category > International treaties and agreements > US treaties and agreements library