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European Thesaurus on International Relations and Area Studies


The multilingual European Thesaurus is a controlled vocabulary to index and retrieve special subject literature in the field of International Relations and Area Studies.

The European Thesaurus is currently used among others in the International Relations and Area Studies Gateway.

Thematic Scope

The European Thesaurus focusses mainly on international politics and area studies. The thesaurus is made up of 24 subject fields (download as PDF file) with each field having a further sub-structuring.

The European Thesaurus contains circa 8.200 descriptors (preferred terms). About 600 of the descriptors are proper names of relevant international organisations and international agreements.


English is the primary thesaurus language. Equivalents of the English descriptors are available in Czech, French, German, Italian, Polish and Spanish. Furthermore, versions in Russian and Croatian are available at the IREON gateway. A Greek version will be added in the near future.


The European Thesaurus is the result of a cooperation project within the framework of the European Information Network on International Relations and Area Studies (EINIRAS). The European Thesaurus integrates the terminologies of a number of thesauri and subject heading lists of European research institutions (e.g. Royal Institute of International Affairs, Stockholm International Peace Institute, Institut français des relations internationales, Fachinformationsverbund Internationale Beziehungen und Länderkunde).

The following institutions participated in the European Thesaurus project:

Cross-concordances have been established to the following related thesauri:

  • Standard Thesaurus Economics
  • Thesaurus for Social Sciences
  • Thesaurus for Economic and Social Development
  • PAIS Subject Terms Thesaurus

Print Version

The print version of the European Thesaurus published in 2007 consists of:

  • a seven-lingual systematic part in which the descriptors are shown in their thematic context, synoptically in all languages
  • seven monolingual alphabetical parts, each listing in alphabetical order the descriptors and selected non-descriptors.

Ordering Information

– Attention: price reduction! –
To order the print version of the European Thesaurus, please send an e-mail to eurothesaurus@swp-berlin.org. The multilingual systematic part, which always includes the English alphabetical part, costs 50 Euro plus postage. Additional monolingual alphabetical parts cost 5 Euro each.
Please note: Alphabetical parts can not be bought separate from the systematic part.

You can order a free of charge single language English version of the European Thesaurus as a PDF file (3,5 MB). It is based on the print version from 2007, including the complete alphabetical and systematic parts as well as a systematic survey. Please send an e-mail to eurothesaurus@swp-berlin.org.

Online Version

The European Thesaurus is accessible online via IREON - the International Relations and Area Studies Gateway. On the IREON Gateway the thesaurus serves foremost as a retrieval tool to search for contents of the the bibliographical database "World Affairs Online". Additionally, cross-concordances to thesauri of other databases integrated in the portal allow the simultaneous search of multiple databases.

In contrast to the print version, the online version of the European Thesaurus does also provide the semantic relationships of a descriptor (broader, narrower, and related terms). The online version can either be used to browse - alphabetically or by subject area, and in any language - through the European Thesaurus or to directly search for a specific descriptor. Descriptors relevant for a search can easily be transferred to the portal’s search form by a mouse click. The online version is updated regularly.

The European Thesaurus Project is coordinated by the Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik – German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP).
Contact: Axel Huckstorf, E-Mail: axel.huckstorf@swp-berlin.org

New: Cooperation with the German Library networks

WAO is now part of the catalogues of the German Library networks. You can now find all journal articles, chapters of books, online papers and monographs from WAO

IREON relaunch, now with ECONIS data

IREON – the International Relations and Area Studies Gateway has a new technical platform and now includes additional collections on economic policy.

New databases are:

  • ECONIS – the ZBW (German National Library of Economic) database
  • SCIENCES PO – a selection from the Sciences Po, Paris journal articles database (closed catalogue)

The new IREON continues to provide bibliographic references (including full-text documents were possible) from:

  • WAO – World Affairs Online
  • WAO – Treaties, including selected treaties on international security policy and UN Security Resolutions
  • LITDOK – the database of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), with a focus on development policy
  • FES – the library catalogue of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, specializing in political and social topics


The European Thesaurus on International Relations and Area Studies is availaible in a
seven-lingual print edition.
The Thesaurus can be accessed online at the IREON Gateway.
History of the FIV

Short version
Full version (download as PDF file)


© 2005-2019 Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik – German Institute for International and Security Affairs, 10719 Berlin for FIV – The German Information Network International Relations and Area Studies