Citing a Treaty According to The Bluebook

October 23, 2012

If you are citing to a treaty in a law review article, The Bluebook is very particular about what resources to cite.  Surprisingly for many researchers, The Bluebook requires citations to United States publications over citations to publications from international bodies, such as the United Nations.  The following will serve as a guide on citation.

If the US is a party to the treaty:

  • look for publication in the United States Treaties and Other International Agreements ("UST" - in print, and online).   This series began in 1950 and the last published volume was in 1984, so despite the fact that this is the first place you are forced to go, it is the least likely place to have the treaty you need. 
  • Treaties that predate the creation of the UST were published in the Statutes at Large (Stat.) series, which are also available both in print and online.

If the treaty you are trying to find is not published in either the UST or Stat. at Large, you can cite one of the following sources (given in the order of preference):

If the treaty you are looking for is not in one of these US sources, then search for it in these international sources:

An unofficial source can be cited if the agreement you are looking for does not appear in any of the above sources.

If the US is not a party to the treaty, cite a source published by an international organization. 

  • You are most likely able to find your treaty in the UN Treaty Series given above, but there are other regional organizations such as the Organization of American States Treaty Series (OASTS), that might have the treaty. 
  • If the treaty predates the UN, the UN website does have the League of Nations Treaty Series as well.  This series is also on Hein and in print.  If the treaty predates the League of Nations, you will probably need to turn to an unofficial source (see below for more information).

Some intergovernmental sources include:

If the treaty does not appear in any of the above required sources, cite to International Legal Materials (ILM), available in print and online.

Should the treaty not appear in ILM, you would need to cite to another unofficial treaty source, such as the Consolidated Treaty Series (Consol. T.S.).  The Consolidated Treaty Series is an excellent place to find treaties that predate the UN and the League of Nations.

There are dozens of other potential publications to consult, especially if you are looking for investment and tax treaties.

For more information, please feel free to contact Ryan directly 

Published In: