Cover: U.S. Security-Related Agreements in Force Since 1955

U.S. Security-Related Agreements in Force Since 1955

Introducing a New Database

Published Dec 17, 2014

by Jennifer Kavanagh


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Treaty Database

A Database of U.S. Security Treaties and Agreements (TL-133-AF)

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Research Questions

  1. What kinds of security-related treaties and agreements has the United States signed over time and with which international partners?
  2. How have the distribution and characteristics of security-related treaties and agreements changed over time?
  3. What can we learn from a review of U.S. security-related treaties and agreements about the nature and depth of U.S. security commitments and relationships?

Treaties and agreements are powerful foreign policy tools that the United States uses to build and solidify relationships with partners and to influence the behavior of other states. As a result, the overall U.S. portfolio of treaties and agreements can offer insight into the distribution and depth of U.S. commitments internationally, including its military commitment, relationships, capabilities, and vulnerabilities in a given area. While there are many sources of information on security-related treaties and agreements, there is currently no comprehensive record of current or historical security-related treaties signed by the United States that can be used for empirical analysis. To address the shortcomings in existing datasets and indexes to contribute to the study of U.S. security treaties and agreements, the author has developed a tool — displayed in an Excel spreadsheet — that provides a new, more comprehensive treaty database that will enhance the ability of researchers to study the full portfolio of U.S. security agreements.

Key Findings

Understanding the Numbers and Types of Treaties Signed by the United States Would Be Valuable.

  • Understanding the numbers and types of treaties signed by the United States could offer insight into the most common treaty partners and the types of issues and substantive areas where treaties and agreements are the most valuable.
  • Such an understanding would also reveal areas that are typically not addressed by treaties and agreements.
  • It would also give insight into U.S. foreign policy priorities, commitments, and relationships and how these have changed over time.

Existing Data Sources Have Gaps in Their Coverage.

  • No comprehensive record exists of current or historical security-related treaties signed by the United States that can be used for empirical analysis.

Research conducted by

This research was co-commissioned by the Office of the Air Force Assistant Vice Chief of Staff, Air Force Quadrennial Defense Review Directorate. The work was conducted within the Strategy and Doctrine Program of RAND Project AIR FORCE.

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