Your client is a black market firearms dealer.
The U.S. government is hot on her trail and is about to catch her. To avoid extradition, she is looking for a country to escape to with her millions of illegally acquired dollars. She wants to flee to one of the following countries:
- Trinidad and Tobago (T & T)
I recommend starting with an online treaty research guide:
- American Society ofInternational Law electronic resource guide (ASIL ERG)
- Treaties by Jill McC. Watson
- This research guide contains a section called Finding US Treaties: Old and New.
- UPDATE: An Introduction to Sources for Treaty Research – By Mark Engsberg and Mary Beth Chappell
- Locating Treaty Texts, – good overview of how to find US treaties
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention a few major print publications that may help.
- International and Foreign Legal Research: A Coursebook. Second Edition by Marci Hoffman and Mary Rumsey
- Hoffman and Berring ‘s International Legal Research in a Nutshell
- A Basic Course in Public International Law Research by Anthony S. Winer, Mary Ann E. Archer
- somewhat dated
Treaty Research Checklist
To guide the students in answering this question, I gave them a treaty research checklist, which I adapted from
Boston College Law Library.
The questions to ask:
- Does a treaty exist on the subject?
- Can you find the text of the treaty?
- Who are the parties, and is the U.S. a party?
- Is the treaty in force? What is the treaty’s effective date?
- Are there any reservations, understandings, declarations, or other conditions made by the relevant parties?
- Has there been any subsequent modification to the treaty
- Can you identify the rules for treaty interpretation that are used by signatory states?
General web searches are often a good place to start research. For this hypothetical, one might search things like: extradition treaty U.S. or countries with no extradition treaty with the US. It turns out that Wikipedia and the US Department of State both have pages that sort of answer this question. But to be certain, you would want to examine something official and up-to-date.
Official finding tool
Treaties in Force provides citations to the official full-text of U.S. Treaties.
- updated annually (2012
Back to the Hypo
Let’s go back to our arms dealer for a minute. She wanted to go to:
- T & T
To find out if there are extradition treaties in force between the U.S. and these countries there are 5 places we need to look in the most recent Treaties in Force publication.
1. Multilateral Treaties in Force (TIF) in the extradition section. From the contents page, we can see that this is on page 369 and we can go to that page and see which of our 4 countries has an extradition treaty with the U.S.
When we go to page 369, we realize that none of our countries are listed, but that does not mean that they did not sign a bilateral extradition treaty.
2. We still need to look at the sections that reference bilateral treaties with the specific countries of interest.
We now know that as of January 1, 2012, the date of publication of the most recent Treaties in Force, there were extradition treaties with all of the desired countries, except for Bhutan.
Our arms dealer doesn’t believe that there really is an extradition treaty between the U.S. and T & T so she wants to see not just the text but the official text of the extradition treaty. However, you will note above that the TIAS citation is incomplete. This is because it has not yet been published in TIAS.
Official Full-Text Sources
The official sources are
- Treaties and other International Acts Series (TIAS)
- United States Treaties and Other International Agreements (UST)
- Unfortunately, both of these sources are about 10 years out of date.
To find official versions of treaties that have not yet been added to TIAS or UST, you will need to search the Senate Treaty documents.
Senate Treaty Documents
In my albeit limited experience, the easiest way to locate Senate Treaty documents is through the Library of Congress Website Thomas.gov Treaty section.
As shown above, if you use the name of the country in the Word/Phrase search bar and limit the type of treaty to Extradition and Criminal Ass., you will find records of relevant treaty documents.
Notice that this includes a link to the full-text pdf of the relevant treaty on the Government Printing Office’s website.
Our arms dealer really doesn’t want to go to Bhutan and really does want to go to T & T, so she asks you to verify that there has been no change to the Bhutan or T & T extradition treaty status since Jan 1, 2012
Official Up-to-date Index of Treaties in Force
The most up-to-date Index that I could find for free online is the U.S. Department of State web page on Treaty Actions . The Treaty Actions documents shown below are those available in March 2013.
They are not cumulative, you need to check each one individually to ensure that there have been no changes to the extradition treaty status with Bhutan and T & T since Jan 1, 2012.
Looks like our arms dealer will be heading to Bhutan.