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U.S. State Commitments with Foreign Governments

Edited by Ryan Scoville and Mitchell Knief, this is a groundbreaking collection of more than 600 legal and political commitments between U.S. states and foreign governments. Most have never before been published—online or in print.

About U.S. State Commitments with Foreign Governments

The most comprehensive source ever published—available in a print & online database format!

U.S. states frequently enter into arrangements with foreign governments to cooperate on issues ranging from economic development to environmental protection. For example, in 2017, California signed an agreement with Quebec to limit CO2 emissions. In 2019, New Jersey and the Indian state of Gujarat adopted a sister-state agreement to foster cultural and economic ties. And in 2022, Indiana and the United Kingdom signed a memorandum of understanding to expand trade relations.

Available in print and online database formats, U.S. State Commitments with Foreign Governments provides the full text of hundreds of these kinds of arrangements. To compile the collection, the editors filed over 650 freedom-of-information requests, including one with every major administrative agency in each of the fifty states. State officials responded by delivering copies of more than 600 commitments totaling approximately 3,000 pages. The book contains a curated set of roughly one quarter of these commitments, along with notations that explain context, highlight significant legal issues, and identify helpful academic sources. The online database includes the full collection and will receive periodic updates in the future.

cover of U.S. State Commitments with Foreign Governments book

This is the most comprehensive publication of its kind. It serves as an innovative, subnational analogue to official compilations of international agreements to which the United States is a party—namely, United States Treaties and Other International Agreements (UST) and the Treaties and Other International Acts Series (TIAS). And it is an essential resource for scholars of international law and U.S. foreign relations law, political scientists who study paradiplomacy, federal and state policymakers, and the voting public.

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Why Study These Commitments?

Uncover a developing diplomatic frontier.

While the U.S. federal government has traditionally been the face of international relations, states are now stepping onto the global stage to shape policy on issues from trade to the environment.

Analyze an opaque practice.

Despite the significance of U.S. state commitments with foreign governments, states generally have not been required to disclose them to Congress or the public. As a result, most of the commitments have avoided publicly scrutiny.

Assess practical benefits and risks.

Recent commitments are often beneficial, but some might subvert U.S. national interests and undermine federal foreign policy.

Understand the law in practice.

The contents of the commitments shed new light on U.S. constitutional law and public international law as applied at the state level.

About the Editor

Ryan Scoville

Ryan Scoville is a Professor of Law at Marquette University Law School, where he teaches and writes on U.S. foreign relations law and international law. His research has been published in leading academic journals such as the Michigan Law Review, the Duke Law Journal, European Journal of International Law, and the Yale Journal of International Law, and has been cited in a number of national media outlets, including the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, The Atlantic, and Foreign Policy. Professor Scoville holds a J.D. from Stanford Law School.

Browse by Subject

Users can browse the database by State (U.S.), Country, or Subject. Commitments are organized into the following 14 subject areas:

Using the Commitment Index

HeinOnline has created a custom Commitment Index tool to help maximize your research within this database. This tool allows researchers to choose a variety of ways to search, by Text, Keywords, Title, Commitment Number, State, Country, Description, Subject, and Date. Additionally, users can restrict results within a date range and change how results are sorted.

screenshot of Commitment Index in U.S. State Commitments with Foreign Governments


Pricing information coming soon.

Using the U.S. State Commitments with Foreign Governments Database