What are travaux préparatoires and how can I find them?
Last Updated: Nov 17, 2022     Views: 24685

Travaux préparatoires is the name used to describe the documentary evidence of the negotiation, discussions, and drafting of a final treaty text.

Travaux préparatoires is the most commonly used name for these types of documents, but they may sometimes also be referred to as:

  • negotiating history
  • drafting history  
  • preparatory documents 

According to the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, these documents can be used to supplement the interpretation of a treaty when the meaning is ambiguous or obscure when reading the treaty alone. 

There are a number of sources you can use when trying to locate travaux préparatoires:

If these sources are not available for a particular treaty, try searching for journal articles on the negotiating history of a treaty or using UN reference tools such as the Yearbook of the United Nations. With information from these sources, you can then search for UN documents from specific years, committees or diplomatic conferences. 


Disclaimer: answers are prepared by library staff using resources available at the time of writing. This site may include links and references to third-party databases, websites, books and articles, this does not imply endorsement by the United Nations.


Ask Dag Logo

Explore more than 800 FAQs in: