Guidance for users

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The information provided on this database is for guidance only. Whilst the FCO Treaty Section takes care to obtain its information from reliable sources, the accuracy of database records cannot be guaranteed. The FCO will not be liable for any loss or damage resulting from any reliance placed on this information.

Search and display screens explained

Enter title:

This allows you to enter elements from the title of the treaty you are looking for.  The drop-down list to the right of the window allows you three options to find a treaty by using words (or parts of words) present in its title, as follows:

  • One or more words present in the title: this equates to "word A" or "word B" in a title, e.g. "Rights Child" - will retrieve a record for "Convention on the Rights of the Child" as well as "Protocol on the Suppression of Traffic in Women and Children";
  • A complete phrase, eg "Protection of the Ozone Layer" - this will need to be an exact match for the phrase in the title, otherwise the treaty will not be found. So, this search would find "Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer", but would not find "Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer". If in doubt, use a single word, or search for one or more words in the title;  
  • All words to be found in a title, e.g "Rights (and) Child". This would retrieve a record for the  "Convention on the Rights of the Child" as both these terms are present in the title; it would not retrieve the  "Protocol on the Suppression of Traffic in Women and Children", since the term "Rights" is not also present in the title.

Sort by date:

Search results can be sorted so that they will display in chronological order, with the most recent item displaying first.

Sort by country:

This facility will only work when searching for bilateral records. It will enable a set of search results for bilateral treaties to be displayed in country order, e.g: bilateral treaties with "extradition" in the title may be displayed A-Z according to the country listed as a participant in the record. Note: some older records may not have a separate participant record, and may not file in order.

Treaty type:

Your search can specify which type of treaty to find, e.g Bilateral or Multilateral. The default selection of "All" will retrieve both types of treaty, qualified by the other search criteria used.


This is a drop-down list of States and International Organizations that feature as participants in one or more treaty record. Type in one or more initial letters of a name and the list will highlight the country or countries that match this. Click to select. The list features some names that are no longer in common use; for more information, please refer to the Database Guidance Notes published on this site.   

Place of signature:

In this free text field you may search for the name of a geographical place-name where a given treaty was signed or adopted, e.g; London, New York, Paris, Brussels, etc. NB. There are many treaties signed in such places (there are over 300 "London Treaties" recorded alone!). We recommend you also use other criteria such as type of treaty, date-range or an element from the title to narrow-down your search.

Signature date(s):

This enables you to search for a specific date, by using the "On" button, or to search for a treaty signed between or across a range of dates [01 Jan 1950] to [01 Jan 1955] by using the "From/To" button. Use the drop-down lists to select the details you need.

Adopted date(s):

Using "Signature Date" as part of your search pattern may not achieve the  expected result, or result in no hits.  This could be because the UK was not involved with a treaty in any way.  Alternatively, you may be looking for a multilateral treaty (or an amendment to a multilateral treaty) that was adopted by an international Conference, rather than opened for signature by States at a specially-staged signature ceremony. In such cases, the treaty may be found by its date of adoption instead. Try putting your dates in the "Adopted Date(s)" field to find out. If you still have no luck, try searching by type of treaty and title only.

Definitive entry into force:

Many treaties do not enter into force (become legally-binding on their participating States or organizations) at the time of their signature, but do so at a later date following completion of various constitutional and legal formalities. This facility enables you to search for treaties that either entered into force on a specific date, or between a range of dates.  This may be of interest if you are exclusively interested in treaties that are already legally-binding in international law on their participating States. 

Search buttons:

There are search buttons at the top and bottom of the search screen (which may be longer than one page length), thus ensuring that a button is always in view.

Clear fields:

This will clear data from all of the fields you have used in your current search.

Search results:

You will see a screen of search results. Where there are more than 200 records meeting the criteria you have entered, the following message will be displayed: "The result of this search has been limited to the first 200 records".  In such case, you may wish to reduce the number of results by adding more criteria, or do a series of searches limited by date, for example. Where there are more search results than can be displayed on a single screen, the results page will indicate "Page 1 (of 2,3,4) Next> and Last>"  The number of results (eg 1-10) will be displayed also.
Double click on the title of the treaty record display to open it. This will contain key details of the treaty in question, such as title, date and place of signature and depositary (multilaterals only).


in order to see which States are participants in a treaty (through signature, ratification or other action), click on the "Participant Status" box. This will show the names of countries, and (more particularly with multilateral treaties) the actions they have taken, with associated dates.  The Overseas Territories of the United Kingdom and other States will be displayed in alphabetical order at the top of the participants list. We hope to re-arrange this information so that these territories display beneath the relevant Metropolitan Territory (such as the UK, Netherlands etc) in a future database enhancement, but are unable to do so at present.  This box can be enlarged using the icons in the top right-hand corner. This information contained within it can be copied and pasted as required.


Where a treaty has entered into force for the UK and been published in the "Treaty Series" of Command Papers, you should see a PDF icon in the treaty record. Click on this to open the PDF containing the text of the treaty in question. NB: if the document does not open, or there is a problem with the quality of the scanned image, or incorrect information displays, please contact us and we will investigate.  

Please note that Treaty Series publications from 1997 to-date are published in the "Treaty Command papers and Explanatory Memoranda" pages of this website, and at present cannot be seen in full-text on the database. Integrating post 1996 Treaty Series publications into the database will be considered as a future enhancement.        

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