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United Nations Treaties and Agreements: Travaux Préparatoires (Preparatory Works)

This libguide describes the resources available at the University of Hawai'i at Manoa, both print and electronic, and through the world wide web for research to United Nations treaties, agreements, protocols, and other related instruments.

About Travaux Préparatoires (Preparatory Works)

This term typically refers to a collection of records relating to a negotiation of a treaty. These records can take the form of

  • treaty drafts,
  • transcripts or minutes of oral negotiations between countries,
  • substantive reports prepared by international organizations, and more.

They can be valuable research material not only for scholars but also for lawyers and courts interpreting the meaning of treaty provisions. 

The following is an introduction to these materials:

Documents without Borders by Cyril Robert EmeryPublished in the fall of 2012 in Documents to the People, v.40, no.3, p. 12-13.

United Nations PhotoUnited Nations Photo: Genocide Convention Draft, June 1947

Where to find Travaux Préparatoires

If published, Travaux Préparatoires are usually available in a UN depository library (e.g., UHM's Hamilton Library). They may also be found on official UN sites for the treaty, which may require searching in the general records of the organization involved in drafting and negotiating the treaty. There might even be records published for a specific treaty. Some examples:

Multimedia Files

The UN  Audiovisual Library of International Law offers information on UN treaties from a multimedia perspective. The Historic Archives pages will contain legal instruments, each with a brief introduction prepared by a law scholar or practitioner, its procedural history and related documents, and any accompanying audiovisual materials.

Historic Archives