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BigLogo.gif UN Member States on the Record
OLA: Promoting international law
23 September 2008 / 03:21

[Dateline: New York | Author:  OLA]

In continuing efforts to bolster international law and promote its implementation, the Office of Legal Affairs (OLA) has launched a new web site and Treaty Database and is hosting its tenth annual treaty event in New York.

The treaty event, scheduled to coincide with the General Assembly’s General Debate, is taking place from 23-25 and 29 September and 1 October at UNHQ. 

This year’s event, entitled “Universal Participation and Implementation – Dignity and Justice for All of Us”, echoes the theme of the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

During the Treaty Event, the more than 500 treaties deposited with the Secretary-General are all open for either signature, ratification, acceptance, approval or accession in accordance with their respective provisions.  Explanations of these terms are included online, see Definition of key terms used in the UN Treaty Collection.

Among the human rights treaties highlighted in this year’s event are the Disabilities Convention, which entered into force in May this year -- one of the fastest ever human rights treaties to do so -- and which currently has 35 State Parties.  The Convention sets global standards on human rights for the 10 percent of the world’s population experiencing some form of disability who continue to face discriminatory practices in their daily lives.

Other featured treaties include the Convention on Enforced Disappearances, the Optional Protocol to the Torture Convention, and the recently adopted Convention on Cluster Munitions. 

In line with 2008 being the International Year of Planet Earth, the International Year of Sanitation and the International Polar Year, several highlighted treaties reinforce the relationship between protecting the environment and advancing development goals.
While the majority of the 50 treaties highlighted in this year’s Treaty Event are in the area of human rights (17) and protection of the environment (15), treaties covering trade and transit, disarmament, privileges and immunities and the safety of UN and associated personnel are also included.

Treaty Web Site

A new and substantially enhanced web site in English and French at was launched late last week. The Web site, known as the United Nations Treaty Collection (UNTC), is the authoritative source of information on multilateral treaties deposited with the Secretary-General and treaties registered with the Secretariat.

Previously, a user name and password were required, but the new site, which is accessed around two million times each month, has eliminated this requirement making the information more broadly accessible. 

The new Web site offers expanded possibilities for legal research and training. Among its most salient features are:

  • Convenient and timely access to the world’s largest database of multilateral treaties deposited with the SG and treaties registered with and published by the UN Secretariat; with over three million pages of text in more than 140 languages;
  • Daily updates on the participation status of over 500 multilateral treaties deposited with the SG (signatures, ratifications, acceptances, approvals, accessions, declarations, reservations, objections, etc.), including the major treaties in the areas of human rights, organized crime, terrorism, trade and the environment;
  • Full text search capability for treaties registered with and published by the Secretariat online in the UN Treaty Series, (in texts in English, French and Spanish), depositary notifications, photos of treaty signing and deposit ceremonies, monthly statements of treaties and international agreements registered or filed and recorded with the Secretariat, certified true copies of multilateral treaties deposited with the SG;
  • Direct links to the most in demand web pages on the Web site, including the latest treaty texts and/or their participation status information. Such links may be stored as favourites in the user’s browser and forwarded by e-mail to third parties;
  • Automated subscription to the depositary notifications issued by the UN Secretary-General as depositary to inform States of actions undertaken for treaties deposited with him; the choice to receive notifications for a specific treaty, groups of treaties and/or for a specific State or international organisation; automated dissemination via e-mail;
  • Latest treaty texts in their authentic languages and related information made available online shortly after registration by the UN Secretariat;
  • Varied online research tools including sorting/filtering options, complex queries and view/print options.

The new Web site also offers the most recent information on the training opportunities provided by OLA’s Treaty Section