À la Recherche des Travaux Préparatoires: An Approach to Researching the Drafting History of International Agreements

By Jonathan Pratter

Jonathan Pratter has been the Foreign and International Law Librarian at Tarlton Law Library, Jamail Center for Legal Research of the University of Texas at Austin since 1985. He holds a law degree from the University of Nebraska and a Masters in Library and Information Science from the University of Illinois. When not working, teaching, or writing as a law librarian, he can be found studying a new foreign language or taking a long walk.

Published January/February 2021

(Previously updated in May/June 2008, November/December 2012, April/May 2015, and in July/August 2017)

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1. What are Travaux Préparatoires and Why Look for Them?

There are two good reasons why one would go in search of the travaux préparatoires to an international agreement (and/or ask for the assistance of a law librarian in doing so). Before we go into those reasons, what exactly are travaux préparatoires?

The phrase is of course French and translates literally as “preparatory works.” Synonymous phrases in English are “negotiating history” or “drafting history.” It is better to avoid using the phrase “legislative history” as a synonym. While they bear similarities, treaty interpretation differs significantly from statutory construction (especially as the latter is done in the U.S.). Additionally, there is another use for the phrase “legislative history” as a synonym for the ratification history of an international agreement as that takes place in domestic law.

Two definitions from leading texts are:

An omnibus expression which is used rather loosely to indicate all the documents, such as memoranda, minutes of conferences, and drafts of the treaty under negotiation, for the purpose of interpreting the treaty.[1]


[T]he record of the negotiations preceding the conclusion of a treaty, the minutes of the plenary meetings and of committees of the Conference which adopted a treaty, and so on….[2]

Two further requirements, unstated but implied in these definitions, are made explicit in the award in the Young Loan Arbitration:[3]

It must first be stressed that the term [travaux préparatoires] must normally be restricted to material set down in writing – and thereby actually available at a later date. … A further prerequisite if material is to be considered as a component of travaux préparatoires is that it was actually accessible and known to all the original parties.[4]

The first reason for seeking out travaux préparatoires can be called the interpretive reason. If there is doubt or disagreement about the meaning of an international agreement, those charged with interpreting the agreement – it could be a court, or an arbitral tribunal, or anybody who is interested in the meaning of the agreement, including scholars — will want to consult the travaux préparatoires for insight into the “common intentions and agreed definitions”[5] of the negotiators.

The Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties has a specific rule:

Recourse may be had to supplementary means of interpretation, including the preparatory work of the treaty and the circumstances of its conclusion, in order to confirm the meaning resulting from the application of article 31, or to determine the meaning when the interpretation according to article 31:

  • leaves the meaning ambiguous or obscure; or
  • leads to a result which is manifestly absurd or unreasonable.[6]

So, the Vienna Convention assigns a limited, supplementary role to travaux préparatoires. They can be consulted to confirm the meaning, to overcome an ambiguity, or to avoid an absurdity in the plain text.[7] On the other hand, recognized treatises have ascribed a larger role to travaux préparatoires. Jennings and Watts point out that

“[T]he International Court of Justice and its predecessor have frequently affirmed the usefulness of recourse to travaux préparatoires. … [W]here a treaty has been negotiated with thorough preparation and full deliberation, and an efficient and complete record… has been kept, the value of the travaux préparatoires may be great.[8]

Daillier and Pellet note that “an evolution can be traced for some years now tending to accord greater weight to travaux préparatoires.”[9]

While 116 states are parties to the Vienna Convention, the United States is not[10] (neither is France.) In fact, courts in the United States take a more liberal view of the use of travaux préparatoires than the Vienna Convention does. A recent case in the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, Gonzalez v. Gutierrez, demonstrates this.[11] The international agreement before the court was the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. The Gonzalez court said: “Although in interpreting a treaty we begin with the text, we may look beyond the written words to other factors for interpretive guidance. Appropriate sources to consult include the purposes of the treaty, its drafting history, and its post-ratification understanding.”[12] The United States Supreme Court has expressed itself even more strongly. “Because a treaty ratified by the United States is not only the law of this land… but also an agreement among sovereign powers, we have traditionally considered as aids to its interpretation the negotiating and drafting history (travaux préparatoires)….”[13] There is nothing in these quotations about a merely secondary or supplementary role for travaux préparatoires.

There is another reason for consulting travaux préparatoires that has little to do with interpretation as a matter of law. We can call this other reason the genetic reason. There may be absolutely no doubt about the meaning of the treaty text; it is clear to every reader, even to a lawyer. Yet, we may take great interest in how the text of the agreement evolved into its final form. In other words, the evolution of the text has intrinsic historical interest. The examples are of course limitless. One brief illustration will have to serve.

The very first right specified in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights is in Article 1(1), first sentence: “All peoples have the right of self-determination.” The researcher will learn from the travaux préparatoires that the proposal to include peoples’ right of self-determination in the Covenant sparked a sharp controversy. Was this a political principle or a legal right? Three contending schools of thought formed. The debate covered a span of years in the drafting of the Covenant. A working party to deal with the question was convened. It made its report, recommending the inclusion of the right of self-determination. In the end, we know what happened, but if it were not for consulting the travaux préparatoires the researcher would have no inkling of the struggle that preceded the adoption of Article 1(1), first sentence of the Covenant.[14]

2. The Five Models of Publication of Travaux Preparatoires

As the dual significance of travaux préparatoires has been established, the question naturally arises (especially for law librarians), “How do you find these things?” The answer to this question is multifaceted. It turns out that travaux préparatoires come in a variety of guises. The search for travaux préparatoires can range from quite easy at one end of the scale to impossible at the other end. The World Wide Web has made a remarkable difference, but the Web is not a universal antidote to the difficulties of tracking down travaux préparatoires.

I have produced a set of models of publication of travaux préparatoires that helps to clarify the situation for anyone who is about to embark on a search for them:

  • Model I – Unavailable (nonexistent or inaccessible)
  • Model II – Commercial or quasi-commercial compilation and publication
  • Model III – Collected under one title
  • Model IV – Treaty-specific conference records

· Model V – Integrated with standard international organization documents[15]

First, however, I want to mention two kinds of resources that can immeasurably facilitate research in this area. The first is a guide to the travaux préparatoires that tracks the agreement article-by-article, with references to the relevant places in the travaux préparatoires where each article (or the text that preceded it) is discussed. This kind of guide is immensely useful. Travaux préparatoires are usually published in the chronological order of their production and do not correlate well with the order of the final text of the agreement. They can amount to a large and complex body of documentation. If somebody takes the trouble to analyze the travaux préparatoires by collating them with the final text of the agreement, an invaluable research resource is created. Given the amount of effort required to produce such guides, not many of them exist. However, the researcher should always check first before launching into her own hunt.

There are few enough of these guides that they deserve to be noted here:

  • Bossuyt, Marc J. Guide to the “Travaux Préparatoires” of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.” Dordrecht; Boston: M. Nijhoff, 1987.
  • Craven, Matthew C.R. The International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights: A Perspective on its Development. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1995.[16]
  • Detrick, Sharon. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child: A Guide to the “Travaux Préparatoires.” Dordrecht; Boston: M. Nijhoff, 1992.
  • Rehof, Lars A. Guide to the Travaux Préparatoires of the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women. Dordrecht; Boston: M. Nijhoff, 1993.
  • Weis, Paul. The Refugee Convention, 1951: The Travaux Préparatoires Analysed. Cambridge: Grotius Publications, 1995.
  • Wetzel, Ralf Günter; Rauschning, Dietrich. The Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties: Travaux Préparatoires. Frankfurt: Metzner, 1978.

The second kind of resource is an article-by-article commentary on a particular agreement. In the nature of things such a commentary refers to the travaux préparatoires, either for interpretive guidance or historical context. Two outstanding recent examples are Schwenzer’s commentary on the CISG[17] and Schreuer’s commentary on the ICSID Convention.[18]

This is also the place to note that Yale University Law Library now produces a page on its website titled Collected Travaux Préparatoires. The object of this valuable page is to bring together references and links to collected travaux préparatoires, as they are found either in hard copy or online. This resource is a recommended starting point for research.

In a final preliminary remark, I note that the UN has started to post online the travaux préparatoires for a limited number of international agreements sponsored by the UN. An example is the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime. Also worthy of note in this connection is the [UN] Audiovisual Library of International Law, and in particular the component called Historical Archives. This has information on a variety of international instruments, international agreements in the main, sponsored by the UN. For each instrument there is a “Documents” link that takes the researcher to a list of “Selected preparatory documents” in chronological order. Some are available in full text. An examination of these lists of preparatory documents shows that these collections can be fitted into either Model IV or Model V below. I mention this resource here because it is available only online.

2.1. Model I – Unavailable (Nonexistent or Inaccessible)

I start with the model of unavailability not because I want to make the process of research seem terribly difficult or frustrating, but rather because I want to inject a note of realism and common sense into the endeavor. If it is understood that unavailability is one model of non-access to travaux préparatoires, it will save the law librarian or other researchers the disappointment of unreasonable expectations.

Many, many bilateral agreements are entered into without a great deal of formal negotiation. What formal negotiation does take place is not recorded, and any record that does exist is probably in the form of notes taken by the negotiators, and certainly is not intended for publication. The obvious conclusion is that in the case of bilateral agreements, the researcher should not expect to find travaux préparatoires.

Two cases of confidentiality deserve mention. For 35 years the travaux préparatoires of the Treaty of Rome establishing the European Economic Community were declared to be inaccessible.[19] Then, in 1994 they were declared to be open. They are now available in the Historical Archives of the European Union in Florence, Italy.

In the interest of thoroughness, I note that a hardcopy resource has recently come to light: S. Neri and H. Sperl, Traité Instituant la Communauté Économique Européenne: Travaux Préparatoires: Déclarations Interprétives des Six Gouvernements: Documents Parlementaires (Luxembourg: CJ(?), 1960). The difficulty is that this work is only about 450 pages long, which raises doubts about its completeness. Moreover, according to OCLC WorldCat only six libraries in the world hold this work.

The travaux préparatoires of the European Convention on Human Rights were published in eight volumes between 1975 and 1985.[20] However, the travaux préparatoires relating to all of the other international agreements sponsored by the Council of Europe, and there are 222 of these, remain confidential. In 1965 the Consultative Assembly recommended to the Committee of Ministers that it should authorize the publication of the travaux préparatoires of Council of Europe conventions.[21] The Council of Ministers refused but agreed to put in place an alternative.[22] This is the publication of an official explanatory report that accompanies each convention sponsored by the Council of Europe. Not all conventions or protocols have an explanatory report, but most do.

These are easy to find. At the main Council of Europe conventions website, the researcher needs only to click on “Full list,” and then on the name of the convention of interest. The researcher then clicks on the link to the Explanatory Report, which comes up in full in printer-friendly PDF format. In hard copy the texts of the Council of Europe conventions together with their Explanatory Reports are available from the Council of Europe Bookshop Online.

2.2. Model II – Commercial or Quasi-Commercial Compilation and Publication

Brill/Martinus Nijhoff, a leading commercial publisher of mainly international law, began in 2008 a series titled The Travaux Préparatoires of Multilateral Treaties. The first volume in the series is a work titled The Slavery Conventions: the Travaux Préparatoires of the 1928 League of Nations Convention and the 1956 United Nations Convention.[23] Volume two in the series, also published in 2008, is The Genocide Convention: the Travaux Préparatoires.[24] The third entry in the series covers the ILO Convention 169.[25] As of 2020, Brill continues to advertise this series, so future additions may be expected.

Cambridge University Press has published the travaux préparatoires of the negotiation of the amendments to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court relating to the adoption of the crime of aggression.[26] Cambridge has performed the same service for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.[27] In 2016 Oxford University Press published the travaux préparatoires to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.[28]

In light of the commercial difficulties in producing this kind of publication, it is not surprising that much of earlier Model II publication was quasi-commercial in the sense that, while the product was done as a specially compiled and titled work, the publisher was not strictly speaking a commercial one. A good example is the book The Travaux Préparatoires of the International Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules of Law with respect to Collision between Vessels 23 September 1910 … (1997). It is clear that this work was specially compiled and distinctively titled, but the publisher is the Comité Maritime International (CMI), the organization that sponsored the drafting and adoption of the conventions. Another example is The Collected Travaux Préparatoires of the 1951 Geneva Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees (1990). Here the publisher is the Dutch Refugee Council together with the European Legal Network on Asylum. A final example comes from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, which produced for commercial distribution the travaux préparatoires of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption.[29]

The advantage of Model II publication for research is obvious. The phrase “travaux préparatoires” almost invariably appears in the title of the work, which means, obviously, that the phrase also appears in the cataloging record created by libraries for the work. In contrast, this convenient characteristic of Model II publication is almost invariably not the case in the other models of publication.

2.3. Model III – Collected Under One Title

The Hague Conference on Private International Law is the best example of Model III. The first Hague conference was convened in 1893. In 1951, the Hague Conference became a permanent intergovernmental organization, founded on its Statute, which is an international agreement. The Conference has 85 member states (plus the European Union) and a further 69 states are not members but have become parties to one or more Hague conventions

The purpose of the Hague Conference is “to work for the progressive unification of the rules of private international law.”[30] The principal method for achieving this goal is the drafting and negotiation of multilateral international agreements. To date, the Hague Conference has sponsored 40 conventions and protocols on a variety of subjects in private international law.

The working method of the Hague Conference can be summarized as follows. The Permanent Bureau (secretariat) undertakes preparatory work. Then preliminary drafts of a convention are drawn up by special commissions made up of governmental experts. The draft convention is then considered, debated, perhaps amended, and adopted at a plenary session of the Hague Conference, which convenes every four years.

What kind of documentation is produced during the preparation of a Hague convention? We can identify at least the following kinds:

  • In one category, the documents of the preliminary work, which include such items as:
    • A report drawn up by the Permanent Bureau on the advisability of proceeding to draft a convention on the subject in question
    • A checklist drawn up by the Permanent Bureau of provisions that might be included in the convention
    • The preliminary conclusions of the special commission appointed to draft the convention
    • The preliminary draft convention adopted by the special commission
    • An explanatory commentary on the draft convention drawn up by one of the expert members (the rapporteur) of the special commission
  • In another category, the so-called “Acts” of the session of the Hague Conference that considered the convention, including:
    • o Working documents of the commission appointed by the plenary to consider the draft convention, including proposals to amend the draft text
    • o The minutes of the meetings of this commission
    • o Working documents of the plenary session
    • o The minutes of the plenary session
  • In a third category, the final text of the convention as adopted and the official explanatory report drawn up by a recognized expert delegate, usually the person who had previously been appointed as rapporteur during the drafting phase.

All of this documentation is gathered up and published in a series known popularly as “Actes et Documents.” If these volumes are cataloged under one title and classed together, as in my view they most certainly should be, the full title will be Actes et Documents de la … Session. The English title is Proceedings of the … Session. The corporate author will of course be the Hague Conference on Private International Law.

The Hague Conference maintains an excellent website. The question is, what effect has the website had on the availability of Hague Conference travaux préparatoires? Since January 2020, the volumes of the Actes et Documents/Proceedings are available as PDFs for free on the Hague Conference website. This covers the first session to the 21st session (2007). (Look under Publications & Studies>Publications>Proceedings of the Diplomatic Sessions.) For instruments completed after 2007 there is a link to “Preparatory Work” on the webpage for that instrument. Also under “Publications” is a link to the “Explanatory Report” for each convention. These too are available for free as PDFs.

The work of the International Institute for the Unification of Private Law (UNIDROIT) used to be another good example of Modell III publication, and so it will be dealt with here. UNIDROIT also is an intergovernmental organization whose purpose is to study the needs and to propose methods for modernizing, harmonizing and coordinating private law, in particular commercial law. UNIDROIT’s main working method is to draft legal instruments, including international agreements, that harmonize the law in particular fields. UNIDROIT emphasizes that its focus is on rules of substantive law, not rules of private international law, which is what distinguishes UNIDROIT from the Hague Conference.

Much of UNIDROIT’s official work was formerly published in an annual series under one title. The series was known by its cover title in English, UNIDROIT Proceedings and Papers. However, Proceedings and Papers has ceased publication.[31] Travaux préparatoires of the UNIDROIT instruments can now be found individually in PDF on the UNIDROIT website.[32]

2.4. Model IV – Treaty-Specific Conference Records

This is both the most common model and the most difficult to research. When a significant multilateral agreement is to be negotiated, a sponsoring body – it could be a state, say Switzerland; or it could be an international organization, say the United Nations – convenes an international conference to which as many states as possible will be invited to send representatives. The conference elects a president and organizes itself into working committees, usually including a drafting committee. The conference works through and prepares the text of the agreement, which is then adopted in the plenary session of the conference in a document called the “final act.”[33] In the course of its work, the conference produces such documents as procès verbaux (verbatim records of discussion in committee and plenary sessions), summary records of discussion, and working drafts of the agreement. These documents are gathered together and published as the record, that is, the travaux préparatoires, of the conference.

From the perspective of research, the difficulty of working with Model IV is that there is no necessary link between the name of an international agreement and the travaux préparatoires of the conference that produced it. Indeed, it may be difficult to determine exactly what the correct name of an international agreement is. The cataloging record of the conference publication does not have to, and frequently does not, contain a tracing or added entry for the name of the agreement. Therefore, a search using the name of the agreement, which is usually what the researcher has in hand, often will not turn up the cataloging record for the travaux préparatoires.[34] Just as serious is the fact that the title of the conference publication may well not contain the phrase “travaux préparatoires.”

An example illustrates both the difficulty and the method. The famous international agreements negotiated in 1949 for the protection of war victims, are called almost universally in the legal literature by their popular name, the Geneva Conventions.[35] This is the information that the researcher has to start with.

A search on OCLC WorldCat for the phrase “Geneva Conventions” returns thousands of records. Knowing that the conventions were negotiated in 1949, we can limit the search by year. This brings up the formal name of the negotiating conference as that appears in the cataloging for early publications of the text of the conventions: Diplomatic Conference for the Establishment of International Conventions for the Protection of Victims of War (1949: Geneva, Switzerland). A search on the terms in the name of the conference quickly reveals the record for the travaux préparatoires under their formal title, Final Record of the Diplomatic Conference of Geneva of 1949. This method of searching for Model IV documents may not be ideal, but it does work. The caveat that I would enter here is that for best results the researcher should be a law librarian.[36]

The U.N. has a website titled United Nations Diplomatic Conferences. Here are found links to the full texts in PDF of diplomatic conferences for the negotiation of a dozen significant international agreements sponsored by the U.N. between 1958 and 1998.

There is a complicating factor that deserves mention. It can happen that the record of the negotiating conference does not represent the entirety of the travaux préparatoires. A good example is the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties. The travaux préparatoires of the conference have indeed been published.[37] However, in the decade preceding the decision to convene a conference (1955-1966), the International Law Commission carried out an immense amount of preparatory work on the law of treaties, which led directly to the General Assembly’s decision to convene the conference. Fortunately, this work is thoroughly documented on the website of the International Law Commission. This pattern obtains for several agreements for which the International Law Commission did preparatory work. The Commission’s website has complete information.[38]

2.5. Model V – Integrated with Standard International Organization Documents

Working with Model V requires knowledge of the international organization in question and its documentation. Each international organization is unique and has to be taken on its own terms. Of course, we are concerned here with international organizations that carry out law-making functions through the adoption of international agreements. There are several of these. We take the International Labour Organization (ILO) as an example, partly because the ILO, through its outstanding website, has revolutionized research into its travaux préparatoires.

Founded in 1919, the ILO became the first specialized agency of the UN in 1946. The structure of the ILO has three main components. The International Labour Conference is composed of the member states of the ILO. The Conference meets in Geneva in June of each year. The Governing Body is the executive council of the ILO. One of its significant functions for our purposes is to propose the agenda of subjects to be considered by the Conference. The International Labour Office is the permanent secretariat of the ILO in Geneva.

One of the major functions of the ILO is standards-setting on a broad array of questions in the general field of labor and labor rights. One of the chief mechanisms of the ILO’s standards-setting activity is the adoption of international agreements, called conventions. As of 2019, the ILO has adopted 190 conventions dealing with all aspects of labor standards. One of the most significant recent conventions, which we take as an example, is the Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention of 1999.[39]

Once the International Labour Conference accepts a standards-setting issue for its agenda, it asks the International Labour Office to prepare reports for submission to the next session of the Conference. The Conference then assigns consideration of the agenda item to a committee of the Conference. The committee makes its own report, which is considered by the plenary of the Conference. If the proposal for enacting a standard in the form of a convention is approved, the plenary session of the Conference adopts the text of the proposed convention. It should be noted here that the consideration of proposed conventions usually takes place during two consecutive sessions of the Conference.[40]

In hardcopy, the work of the International Labour Conference is published in the annual serial, Record of Proceedings. I want to propose that today the ideal method for researching the travaux préparatoires of ILO conventions is online. The ILO has an outstanding website with all kinds of information. One of the central components of the website is the database of ILO-sponsored labor standards, called NORMLEX. Of course, a major element of NORMLEX is the collection of ILO conventions. The full text of every ILO convention is easily accessible, along with links to ratification information. However, there is no link from the text of a particular convention to the relevant travaux préparatoires, even though they are available elsewhere on the ILO website.

To get to the travaux préparatoires you have to go to the link on the ILO homepage to the International Labour Conference, which is found under the link for “Meetings and events.” With the knowledge that the Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention was adopted in 1999, the researcher selects the link for the 87th Session, which took place in June 1999. There the researcher finds links to a full range of sessional documents. For our purposes, the significant documents are:

  • “Reports Submitted to the Conference” (by the International Labour Office). These are organized by agenda item with an indication of the subject, so it is easy to find the reports titled “Child Labour.”
  • “Reports of Conference Committees and discussion in Plenary.” These too are organized with an indication of the subject.

Knowing that proposed conventions are discussed at two consecutive sessions of the Conference, the researcher then goes to the link for the 86th Session (1998) and repeats the process.[41] Here I have to enter a caveat. This kind of research using the ILO website is possible only as far back as the 85th Session. However, from 1997 going forward, the website has revolutionized research on the travaux préparatoires of ILO conventions.

3. Conclusion

Having worked through all five models, the observant reader will have noted a small difficulty. When the United Nations General Assembly convenes an international conference for the purpose of negotiating an international agreement, the travaux préparatoires produced by the conference are normally published as stand-alone bibliographic entities, which puts them in Model IV. However, at the same time these documents are issued in the A/CONF./[number] series of United Nations documents, which puts them in Model V. This dissolves the distinction between Models IV and V. In response to this small difficulty, I do not claim that these models represent airtight categories. I do maintain that my five models of travaux préparatoires represent a useful working framework in which to approach the task of researching them.

[1] Lord McNair, The Law of Treaties 410 (1961).

[2] Robert Jennings and Arthur Watts, 1 Oppenheim’s International Law 1277 (9th ed. 1992).

[3] 59 I.L.R. 495 (1980).

[4] Id. at 544.

[5] Id. at 545.

[6] Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, May 23, 1969, art. 32, 1155 U.N.T.S. 331 (emphasis added). Article 31(1) of the Convention, which contains the general rule of interpretation, reads: “A treaty shall be interpreted in good faith in accordance with the ordinary meaning to be given to the terms of the treaty in their context and in the light of its object and purpose.”

[7] A professor at the Michigan Law School has maintained recently that far from assigning a limited role to travaux préparatoires, the drafters of the Vienna Convention intended that travaux préparatoires would work as an integral part of the interpretive search. Julian Davis Mortenson, The Travaux of Travaux: Is the Vienna Convention Hostile to Drafting History?, 107 Am. J. Int’l L. 780 (2013). The paradoxical difficulty with this thesis is that it runs head-on into the plain text of Article 32 of the Convention.

[8] Sir Robert Jennings, Sir Arthur Watts, Oppenheim’s International Law 1277 (9th ed. 1992).

[9] Patrick Daillier, Allain Pellet, Droit International Public 286 (8th ed. 2009) (citing several cases in the International Court of Justice).

[10] This fact has not prevented U.S. courts from citing the Vienna Convention in a variety of contexts. A Westlaw search in U.S. federal cases returns 140 cases that have cited the Convention. Chubb & Son, Inc. v. Asiana Airlines, 214 F.3d 301 (2d Cir. 2000), has a good discussion of the court’s view of the Vienna Convention’s place. The court said in conclusion that “[w]e therefore treat the Vienna Convention as an authoritative guide to the customary international law of treaties.” See also, Maria Frankowska, “The Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties before the United States Courts,” 28 Va. J. Int’l L. 281 (1988); Evan Criddle, The Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties in U.S. Treaty Interpretation, 44 Va. J. Int’l L. 431 (2004).

[11] 311 F.3d 942 (9th Cir. 2002).

[12] Gonzalez at 948 (emphasis added).

[13] Zicherman v. Korean Air Lines Co., 516 U.S. 217, 226 (1996) (emphasis added).

[14] Naturally, I did not develop this example from original research. Rather, I consulted Bossuyt’s unsurpassable guide to the travaux préparatoires of the Covenant, mentioned below.

[15] Lomio, Spang-Hanssen and Wilson see fit to attack my entire project in the following terms: “However, only model III (treaty-specific conference records) refers to the fact that legally binding international instruments are always done through a conference between states of international organizations representatives. This means that although travaux preparatoires material under models I, II, & IV can be found through one of the parties’ archives or websites, these models do not illustrate how international instruments are made or how the travaux preparatoires come into being or are produced – thus they cannot be relied upon.” J. Paul Lomio, Henrik Spang-Hanssen & George D. Wilson, Legal Research Methods in a Modern World 356, n. 34 (3rd ed. 2011). Mssrs. Lomio, Spang-Hanssen and Wilson have simply missed the point – this guide is about the publication of travaux préparatoires and how to find them. I discuss “how international instruments are made or how the travaux préparatoires come into being or are produced” for contextual and illustrative purposes. I hope they will come to see the difference between these two things and will correct this egregious misapprehension in a future edition of their book.

[16] This source is a monograph, but it contains detailed references to the travaux préparatoires on several aspects of the Covenant.

[17] Ingeborg Schwenzer, ed. Commentary on the UN Convention on the International Sale of Goods (CISG) (4th ed. 2016).

[18] Christoph Schreuer, The ICSID Convention: A Commentary on the Convention on the Settlement of Investment Disputes between States and Nationals of Other States (2nd ed. 2009).

[19] See the extract of the procès verbal of the meeting of the Committee of Permanent Representatives, April 3, 1959 (on file with the author).

[20] Collected Edition of the “Travaux Préparatoires.” The Hague: M. Nijhoff, 1975-1985. The formal name of the convention is Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. The convention is frequently cited to 213 U.N.T.S. 221. However, as the convention has been amended several times, the best place for a reliable current text of the convention is the Council of Europe’s conventions website.

[21] Recommendation 417 (1965) (on file with the author).

[22] Conclusion (65) 144 (on file with the author).

[23] Jean Allain, ed. Leiden; Boston: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 2008.

[24] Abtahi, Hirad & Philippa Webb, eds. The Genocide Convention: the Travaux Préparatoires. Leiden; Boston: Martinus Nijhoff, 2008.

[25] Lee Swepston, ed. The Foundations of Modern International Law on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples: The Preparatory Documents of the Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention, and Its Development through Supervision. Leiden; Boston: Brill Nijhoff, 2015-. The first volume is on Basic Policy and Land Rights. Volume 2 (2018) is on Human Rights and the Technical Articles.

[26] Barriga, Stefan & Claus Kress, eds. The Travaux Préparatoires of the Crime of Aggression. Cambridge; New York; Cambridge University Press, 2012.

[27] Schabas, William A., ed. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights: the Travaux Préparatoires. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013. While the Declaration is not an international agreement, the value of the travaux préparatoires for perspective on the Declaration’s genesis and meaning is the same.

[28] Saul, Ben, ed. The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Travaux Préparatoires 1948-1966. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016.

[29] United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Vienna. Travaux Préparatoires of the Negotiations for the Elaboration of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption. New York: United Nations, 2010.

[30] Statute of the Hague Conference on Private International Law, art. 1, Oct. 9, 1951, 15 U.S.T. 2228, 220 U.N.T.S. 12.

[31] I say this because there is no indication of Proceedings and Papers under the Publications link on the UNIDROIT website.

[32] Look under the “Instruments” link, then select a topic and an instrument. Under “Preparatory work” will be found the travaux préparatoires.

[33] This is obviously a much-abbreviated summary. For a fuller account see Robert Jennings & Arthur Watts, Oppenheim’s International Law 1183-1187 (9th ed. 1992) and “Conferences and Congresses, International” in the Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law (2012 and online).

[34] To be fair to catalogers, I should say that when the travaux préparatoires include the text of the agreement, an astute cataloger will take note of that fact by making an added subject entry for the name of the agreement. That will establish the link the researcher hopes for.

[35] A Westlaw search on the phrase “Geneva Conventions” in the Law Reviews and Journals sector returns over 8600 documents.

[36] This caveat is brought home by the observation that a Google search on the phrase “Geneva Conventions” has over 1,300,000 hits, rendering it almost useless.

[37] United Nations Conference on the Law of Treaties: Official Records. New York: United Nations, 1969-1971.

[38] Under the Research link, go to the Analytical Guide to the Work of the International Law Commission and select the topic of interest.

[39] 2133 U.N.T.S. 163, 38 I.L.M. 1207 (1999). The full name is Convention (C182) Concerning the Prohibition and Immediate Action for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour. However, the preamble to the convention says that it may be cited as the Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention. Here we have another example of the name difficulty discussed above.

[40] For a fuller discussion of the structure and working methods of the ILO, see Ebere Okieke, Constitutional Law and Practice in the International Labour Organisation (1985).

[41] The ILO website also has a section devoted to its International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour: IPEC.