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Universiteitsbibliotheek – LibGuides

Training Public International Law: legislation

Training Public International Law

Public International law sources

International legislation can be found in treaties (sometimes called conventions) and United Nations resolutions:

Information on electronic as well as print sources in relation to treaties can be found in:

United Nations Treaty Collection (UNTC)

What is the UNTC
The United Nations Treaty Collection (UNTC) is a database containing, among other things, the United Nations Treaty Series (UNTS). The United Nations Treaty Series contains the texts of treaties in force to which UN member states are parties, in accordance with Article 102 of the UN Charter. Later amendments to treaties are also published in the UNTS.
Read the Website User Guide and  FAQ to become more familiar with the content and search options of this database.
The electronic version of the UNTC lags behind a few years.

Searching the UNTC
The UNTC offers good search facilities. You can search by: date, parties, subject, treaties by their popular name, and words from the title.

If you have found a treaty in the database, but have to refer to the printed version, please note the following:
- the UNTS part number is to be found on the first page of the text as contained in the database and
- page numbers only appear on page 2 of the text; this means you will have to calculate back one page.

Resolutions of the General Assembly (GA) and the Security Council (SC)

Resolutions of the General Assembly (GA) and the Security Council (SC) are inter alia published on the UN website:
- GA Resolutions as of 1946
- SC Resolutions as of 1946
VN vlag

The Resolutions of the General Assembly have been ordered by GA session.
The Resolutions of the Security Council have been ordered by year.

How to find UN Documents

You can find UN Documents through the websites of UN bodies, as mentioned elsewhere on this page and in this LibGuide.

As an alternative you can browse the UN website Documents which provides many Quick links and allows you to search by document symbol (e.g. A/63/100).

When you prefer Google add to your search:

Finally you can search the Official Document System. This is a truly huge database, so read the FAQ and follow the Search Tips.


Treaties to which the Netherlands is a party (or is planning to be) have been published since 1951 in the Tractatenblad (Trb). Before 1951 they were published in the Staatsblad. Treaties are published as soon as they are concluded. After you ticked the box 'Tractatenblad' specific search options are shown.

Besides the texts of the treaties, you will also find in the Tractatenblad  alterations made at a later stage and information about ratification (countries which have become involved in the treaty).

Also Dutch translations of international treaties are published. When Dutch is not one of the original languages of the treaty, the translation is only a tool. Interpretations of treaties must be based on one of the original languages of the treaty. (Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, art. 31-33).

Manner of citation

References always relate to the printed official source. References to the Tractatenblad must be shown as follows (please note punctuation and italics):

  • Trb. year,issue. For instance: Trb. 1994, 12

Council of Europe Treaty Series (CETS)

The Council of Europe was founded in 1949 and is an organisation of which all European countries are members, with the exception of Belarus, Kazachstan and Vatican City. With the entry of Monaco in 2004 47 countries are members of the Council. In addition, the United States, Canada, Mexico, Israel, Japan and Vatican City have the status of monitor.

An important goal of the Council of Europe is promoting unity among the member states, in particular by concluding mutual treaties.

These treaties can be found in the  Council of Europe Treaty Series (CETS) (from 1949 to 2003: European Treaty Series, ETS) on the website of the Treaty Office of the Council of Europe.

The most important treaty, concluded in 1950 by all member states is:
Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms  

Codification and progressive development of international law

The General Assembly is mandated to encourage the progressive development of international law and its codification.

The website Codification and progressive development of international law provides access to information on the work of the various bodies established to carry-out the General Assembly’s mandate to encourage the progressive development and codification of international law such as the Sixth (Legal) Committee and the International Law Commission. It also provides access to information on the different activities of the Programme of Assistance, including the training courses in international law offered by the United Nations, the Audiovisual Library of International Law, and the publications prepared by the Codification Division.