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Referencing - International Law: United Nations Treaty Series

How do I reference an United Nations treaty?

This guidance applies whether you found the treaty in print or online.

title | (opened for signature date OR signed/adopted date, entered into force date) | volume | treaty series | page

Footnote and bibliography:
e.g. International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (adopted 19 December 1966, entered into force 23 March 1976) 999 UNTS 171

To pinpoint, follow the citation with the relevant term or abbreviation and a number. To pinpoint several articles or paragraphs, insert a dash between the numbers:
e.g. International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (adopted 19 December 1966, entered into force 23 March 1976) 999 UNTS 171 arts 6-8

Term Abbreviation
article/articles art/arts
paragraph/paragraphs para/paras

Title

  • Do not include 'The' at the beginning of the title
  • Use capitals for the major words
  • Include details of amendments in the title, if necessary.

Date

  • If parties can accede to the treaty, cite the full date that the treaty was opened for signature
  • Otherwise, cite the date that it was signed or adopted
  • If available, then give the date that it entered into force.

UNTS citation

The preferred source for UN treaties is the United Nations Treaty Series (UNTS).

Parts of a treaty

Treaties are divided into articles and paragraphs.

These divisions are referenced using either a term (e.g. article 4) or an abbreviation (e.g. art 4) as follows:

  • In a footnote, use the abbreviation
  • In the text of your work, use either the term or the abbreviation but...
  • Use the term at the beginning of a sentence
  • When referring to paragraphs, always use the abbreviation.

If citing a paragraph as part of an article, use only the abbreviation for the article. For example, paragraph 1 of article 31 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights is referenced as follows: International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (adopted 19 December 1966, entered into force 23 March 1976) 999 UNTS 171 art 31(1).