Publication of TIAS
Pursuant to 1 U.S.C. 112a(a), the Secretary of State is responsible for compiling, editing, indexing, and publishing a compilation entitled “United States Treaties and Other International Agreements,” which contains all international agreements to which the United States has become a party during each calendar year. This compilation “shall be legal evidence of the treaties, international agreements other than treaties, and proclamations by the President of such treaties and agreements, therein contained, in all the courts of the United States, the several States, and the Territories and insular possessions of the United States.” 1 U.S.C. 112a(a).
Further, pursuant to 1 U.S.C. 112a(d), the Secretary of State also “shall make publicly available through the Internet website of the Department of State each treaty or international agreement proposed to be published in the compilation entitled 'United States Treaties and Other International Agreements' not later than 180 days after the date on which the treaty or agreement enters into force.” Currently, these agreements are available on the Office of Treaty Affairs webpage, 2009-2017.state.gov/s/l/treaty, through which the Office has made available all executive agreements that it reports to Congress under the Case-Zablocki Act. The Secretary of State may determine that publication of certain categories of agreements is not required if certain criteria in 1 U.S.C. 112a(b) are met. The Department must publish notice of any such determination in the Federal Register. See 1 U.S.C. 112a(c).
Finally, 1 U.S.C. 113 provides that “the Treaties and Other International Acts Series issued under the authority of the Secretary of State shall be competent evidence of . . . the treaties, international agreements other than treaties, and proclamations by the President of such treaties and international agreements other than treaties, as the case may be, therein contained, in all the courts of law and equity and of maritime jurisdiction, and in all the tribunals and public offices of the United States, and of the several States, without any further proof or authentication thereof.”
Meeting Statutory Responsibilities
In practice, the first official publication of U.S. treaties and international agreements is through the “Treaties and Other International Acts Series” (TIAS), which historically has been a series of consecutively numbered, individually paginated pamphlets containing the texts of agreements in English and other official languages of the agreement. After appearing in TIAS in “slip” form, U.S. treaties and international agreements historically were published in bound volumes of “United States Treaties and Other International Agreements (UST).”
In prior years, the A Bureau was responsible for arranging with the Government Printing Office (GPO) to consolidate the TIAS prints in UST volumes. The A Bureau has indicated that funding to continue producing UST has been problematic in recent years. The last UST volume to be produced was Volume 35, Part 6, 1983-1984.
The Office of the Assistant Legal Adviser for Treaty Affairs (L/T) is responsible for the publication of TIAS. While much work needs to be done, the office has begun to make TIAS more accessible to the public and is steadily reducing the time between entry into force of an international agreement and its official publication. As an interim measure, L/T has been making executive agreements that it reports to Congress under the Case-Zablocki Act available on the Treaty Affairs webpage (2009-2017.state.gov/s/l/treaty). Nevertheless, obsolete technology and other factors have resulted in a publication backlog of several years. Therefore, in early 2006, after extensive consultations with the Government Printing Office and the UN Treaty Office, the treaty office decided that it was no longer efficient to use MicroComp, an antiquated DOS-based software application for our publishing functions, and that the office should move to a more streamlined, Windows-based process to publish TIAS (as well as Treaties in Force). By taking advantage of better scanning technology, and by minimizing the need for time-consuming manipulation of text, it is hoped that significant strides will be made in catching up on the backlog on publication of TIAS.
In general, the Treaty Editor is responsible for performing the necessary research and making appropriate arrangements for the publication of TIAS. The Treaty Editor scans the final, executed English-language original of the agreement and certain other key documents into a text-searchable electronic file in Portable Document Format (PDF). The Treaty Editor also will scan the foreign-language texts of the agreement and create a non-searchable (image) PDF. These will be merged with a standard cover page and other front pages, including key information about the agreement. There will no longer be footnotes in TIAS: references in the text will be reflected in the front pages. The resulting PDF’s will be loaded onto the treaty affairs webpage as soon as possible.