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History of the World Treaty Index

The World Treaty Index was first published by ABC-Clio in 1974, ten years after its founder, Dr. Peter Rohn, envisioned a comprehensive resource for treaty research. Under the auspices of the Graduate School of the University of Washington and with initial funding from the National Science Foundation, Dr. Rohn created a resource designed to contribute to an empirical theory of international law and politics. The electronic collection of treaty citations allowed for the presentation of data in a variety of ways, permitting both qualitative and quantitative investigations.

The second edition of The World Treaty Index was published in 1984 and included a number of enhancements to the database. By this time, the resource contained over 44,000 treaty citations dating between 1900 and 1980. League of Nations treaties and treaties registered in the United Nations Treaty Series comprised about 50% of the total, while national treaty sources accounted for the remaining 22,000 documents. A full description of the database can be found in the introduction to the second edition.

Between 1984 and 1999, 25,000 additional treaty citations were added to the database, but a third edition of the Index has not yet been published. (The second edition of The World Treaty Index was reprinted in 1994 by William S. Hein & Co., Inc.). Dr. Rohn retired in 1989 and responsibility for the indexing project was assumed by Dr. Edmond Mignon of the University of Washington Graduate School of Library and Information Science. Dr. Mignon retired in the summer of 1999. Both he and Dr. Rohn continue to serve as consultants on the project.

The World Treaty Index is now entering what is hoped to be a new stage of development. It is administered under the auspices of the Human Rights Education and Research Network by Glenda Pearson of the University of Washington Libraries. An advisory board of renowned international law scholars, librarians and practitioners is participating in the evaluation of this unique resource, with the hope of bringing the World Treaty Index to its originally envisioned conclusion---a complete and searchable index of all 20th century treaties.

For a recent history of the development of the World Treaty Index, please see "Rohn's World Treaty Index: Its Past and Future," by Glenda Pearson, International Journal of Legal Information, 29, no. 3 (Winter 2001): 543-559.

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Last updated April 26, 2002