The Treaty Centre was founded in 1983. Its objectives are to conduct research into the law of treaties and the practice of treaty-making. Its current director is Michael Bowman. An important early undertaking was the compilation of Bowman and Harris, Multilateral Treaties: Index and Current Status (1984), a comprehensive and pioneering research source for information on around 1,000 of the more significant multilateral conventions. This work was subsequently up-dated by 11 cumulative supplements published by the Centre itself, which generated substantial funds for the support of other activities. At the request of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Treaty Centre also undertook the preparation of the Fourth Volume of the Index of British Treaties, a work of almost 800 pages which was published in 1992 by HMSO.
Subsequently, the Centre has completed a series of studies on diverse aspects of the law of treaties (including adoption, amendment and reservations) and on treaty-based areas of international law.
The unique nature of the work undertaken by the Centre and the international reputation thereby established have generated a substantial volume of requests for advice. These have come from legal practitioners, academic researchers and journalists worldwide. The existence of the Centre has also provided opportunities for consultancy work and other kinds of practical involvement in the drafting, adoption and implementation of treaties, particularly in the area of human rights and the protection of the environment.
In 2007/8, a major study was completed concerning the evolution of the 1946 International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling, to coincide with deliberations within the International Whaling Commission itself regarding the future of the organisation, "Normalising" the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling. A copy of this document was forwarded to the IWC itself at the request of its Secretary, and was particularly warmly welcomed by Sir Geoffrey Palmer, former Prime Minister of New Zealand and head of that country's whaling delegation. Sir Geoffrey subsequently chaired the working group that prepared proposals designed to break the long-standing deadlock in the organisation and map out a more constructive future. Subsequently, Michael Bowman was invited by the New Zealand Yearbook of International Law to prepare a further paper, this time concerning the policy parameters for future development of the IWC, which has recently appeared in print. Sarah Dromgoole has published substantial articles on hazardous wrecks and on the underwater cultural heritage in Lloyd's Maritime & Commercial Law Qly and the International Journal of Marine & Coastal Law. Other major publications involving members of the Centre's Environmental Law Section during the session 2010-11 have included Edward Goodwin's International Law & the Conservation of Coral Reefs (Routledge) and the long-awaited 2nd edition of Lyster's International Wildlife Law (CUP), co-authored by Michael Bowman and Peter Davies, together with UCL's Catherine Redgwell.
During the same session, the Centre participated, at the invitation of the Foreign Office and subsequently of the Joint Committee of the House of Lords and House of Commons, in the public consultation regarding Government proposals to enhance the role of Parliament in the process of treaty ratification in the United Kingdom. The Joint Committee's report makes numerous references to the Centre's observations [see HL Paper 166-I; HC Paper 551-I, (2008), Chapter 5]. During 2010, several Centre members submitted written opinions to the Iraq Inquiry concerning the lawfulness of the UK's military action in that country. It is intended that all such submissions will eventually be published by the Inquiry itself.
In June 2009, Dino Kritsiotis and Mary Footer presented papers at the BIICL/Eversheds conference held to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the adoption of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties. Subsequently, the Centre's Law of Treaties Section, under the leadership of Dino Kritsiotis, has undertaken responsibility for completion of a project originally initiated under the auspices of ILA, and an international workshop involving numerous eminent scholars is scheduled for 2012: Conceptual and Contextual Perspectives on the 1969 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties.
To mark the 25th anniversary of the Centre's foundation, a prize of £150 was established to reward the best performance each year in the LLM module in the Law of Treaties, and subsequently a further prize of £350 was established for the best dissertation on a topic concerning the law of treaties or the practice of treaty-making.
The Treaty Centre
School of Law
University of Nottingham