Considering Oxford Historical Treaties

By Ryan Harrington

manuscriptFollowing up on the recent discussion of Hein’s World Treaty Library, I’d like to report on my experience trialing it at the same time as the Oxford Historical Treaty product.

If you are at all like me, you were somewhat confused about Hein’s Historical Treaty Index, which I now understand to mirror the index from Parry’s Consolidated Treaty Series. It appears that Hein identified the full text and Consolidated Treaty Series cite for bilateral and multilateral treaties and included the text in its library. My understanding is that the series is not complete, but Hein is working towards completion. To be perfectly clear, Hein provides researchers with the text of the treaties that would be available in the Consolidated Treaty Series, but does not provide the official Consolidated Treaty Series.

A month ago, during a conversation with colleagues from schools in the northeast, I reported a critical strength for the Oxford product was the ability to run a full-text search. I believed that one could only search the index on Hein, but Steve Roses from Hein later informed me that I could search the full-text. In light of my misunderstanding, Hein listed the Historical Treaty Index as a “document type” on the full text search option (email to me from Steve Roses on 11/17/2014).

In my opinion, Oxford Historical Treaties does contain enough other advantages to make the purchase worth serious consideration. Most obviously, it provides pdf images of the Consolidated Treaty Series.

Anyone who is familiar with the interface of one or more of the other Oxford products will immediately recognize Oxford Historical Treaties, which will make navigation simple for users. The filters (content type, treaty type, party, date, etc) will be useful for empirical or comparative work.

Most notably, Oxford Historical Treaties is integrated with the Oxford Law Citator, which links to other Oxford products, such as Oxford Reports on International Law and Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law as well as commentary in Scholarly Authorities in International Law. For example, when I run the Citator for Treaty of Peace between Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria, Germany and Turkey, and Russia, signed at Brest-Litovsk, 3 March 1918 (223 CTS 80) I am currently able to pull up 19 references to the item, including a PCIJ decision, nine Max Planck articles, and commentary from several scholarly titles.

If that does not satisfy you, the editors also write that “[f]uture developments are planned such as including contextual commentaries for specific treaties commissioned by general editor Randall Lesaffer.”

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