Tip of the Week: How to Determine if a Treaty is Still in Force

Miscellaneous, Tip of the Week, Tips and Tricks, Treaties and Agreements Library, United Nations

HeinOnline’s treaty research databases offer an easy way to determine if a treaty is still in force or if it has been terminated.  This week’s tip explores how to make this determination using both the Treaties & Agreements Treaty  Search Tool and the United Nations Treaty Series database available in HeinOnline.

Watch the Tip of the Week on YouTube, or continue reading below the video for the full-text version.

Determining if a Treaty is Still in Force in the Treaties & Agreements Library:

First, let’s look at a scenario in which the U.S. is a party to the agreement.  When the U.S. is a party to the treaty in question, you should always refer to the Treaty Search Tool in the U.S. Treaties and Agreements Library.  For our example, we want to determine if a treaty between the U.S. and Kazakhstan related to the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 that entered into force on April 4, 2000, is still in force or not.  To open the Treaty Search Tool, go to the Search Tab within the Treaties and Agreements Library, and click on Treaty Metadata Search on the left menu.  Or you can access this from the home page at the top of the Treaty Publications listing.

From the Treaty Search Tool we are going to search by Country for Kazakhstan and by the in force date of April 4, 2000.

This search will yield one result for KAV 6532.  Click on the Summary link from the result.  This will bring up the treaty metdata for KAV 6532.

The treaty metadata contains a field titled Treaty in Force.  This will indicate either yes or no.  For this example, it says Treaty in Force: No, and the description also says “Terminated August 2, 2007“.


Determining if a Treaty is Still in Force in the United Nations Treaty Series:

Now let’s look at a different scenario in which the U.S. is not a party to the agreement.  For treaties to which the U.S. is not a party, you should refer to the World Treaty Library or the United Nations Law Collection.  For our example, we want to determine if a treaty between Denmark, Iceland, Norway and Sweden is still in force.  The treaty is related to the transfer of insured persons from one sick fund to another and was signed at Reykjavik on July 20, 1953.

To search for the treaty in the United Nations Law Collection, click on Search for a Treaty under Finding Aids on the United Nations Law Collection home page.  Or, from the Search Tab within the library, you can click on Sea
rch for a Treaty
.  We are going to search across Multilateral Parties for Denmark, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and search across the treaty description for key terms “insured persons” AND “sick fund”.

This will bring up one result to Treaty I-3140, 227 UNTS 217.  The result is displaying the treaty summary.  In some cases in the UNTS they have included a note about the termination in the description of the treaty; but that is not always the case, as we see in this example.  In addition to reviewing the description information, you should always check the current status of the treaty by using the links at the bottom of the treaty summary under UN Current Status Information.

Start with the first link if there are multiple links listed, and review each current status link provided.  The link will appear as a date which represents the Effective In Force Date of subsequent provisions to the treaty.  When we click on 1955-01-01, it is going to open a window that shows the live data as is provided on the United Nations Treaty website.  This current status information does not indicate anything about termination, however, you will notice an asterisk next to Sweden.  This asterisk indicates a change in status for Sweden.


Now, close the current status window for 1955-01-01 and open the second link, 1958-08-01.  Scroll to the bottom of the current status and you will find a chart of participants to the treaty and their status or actions to the treaty.  Next to Sweden at three different dates, you will see there was a termination in the relations between participants.

If we click on the last entry for Sweden with the Date of Notification of 01/01/1955,  it will pull up the subsequent status information for that date of notification.  This will then indicate the treaty was terminated between Sweden and Norway.

Now, let’s look at another example in which the treaty description itself indicates the treaty was terminated.  This is a treaty between Hungary and Sweden, for which we know the treaty number is 23178.  We can quickly pull up the treaty by the treaty number.  This treaty summary indicates right in the description that the treaty was terminated.

If we click on the UN Current Status Link, that too indicates it was terminated.


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