Treaty Handbook

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Revised and updated, this handbook by the Treaty Section of the United Nations Office of Legal Affairs is intended as a contribution to UN efforts to assist States in becoming parties to the international treaty framework. It is written in simple language and, with the aid of diagrams and step-by-step instructions, touches upon many aspects of treaty law and practice. This handbook is designed for use by States, international organizations and other relevant entities. In particular, it is intended to provide some degree of assistance to States that may have scarce resources and limited technical proficiency in treaty law and practice to participate fully in the multilateral treaty framework.




In its Millennium Declaration, the General Assembly of the United Nations emphasized the need to strengthen the international rule of law, thus clearly highlighting a key area of focus for the United Nations in the new millennium. The Secretary-General of the United Nations has also reaffirmed his commitment to advancing the international rule of law. Treaties are the primary source of international law, and the Secretary- General is the main depositary of multilateral treaties in the world. At present, over 550 multilateral treaties are deposited with the Secretary-General. In order to encourage wider participation in the multilateral treaties deposited with him, the Secretary-General has been inviting States to participate in annual Treaty Events since the initiative was first launched in 2000. In addition to the depositary functions of the Secretary-General, the Secretariat has played a unique role in carrying out functions related to the registration and publication of treaties in accordance with Article 102 of the Charter of the United Nations in order to ensure that treaties in force are in the public domain.


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