Intro to International and Foreign Legal Research

Introduction

There are some basic sources that a researcher of international and foreign law uses frequently or should become familiar with in order to facilitate research in these areas. For example, it is almost impossible to do any research on an international law issue without finding references to and using International Legal Materials (ILM) [KJ5 .I574]. Below is a list of resources that are close to ILM in terms of importance to international and foreign legal research. It is by no means a complete list of essential tools, so the reader is encouraged to examine these tools personally and determine which ones are most appropriate to her or his research style.

Research Guides and Bibliographies

Research guides and bibliographies, as well as catalogs, are good tools for identifying the titles of foreign and international legal materials. There are many research guides on specific countries. Subject headings for locating research guides and bibliographies on foreign and international law are:

legal research--[geographic area or country]
law--[geographic area or country]--bibliography
legal bibliography--[geographic area]
law--[geographic area or country ]
[international organization's name]--bibliography
international agencies--bibliography
[legal topic in Library of Congress form]--[geographic area]--bibliography

The International Journal of Legal Information [K664.A1 I51] is a particularly good source for bibliographies on a country or a specific topic.

The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation (17th ed., Cambridge, MA: Harvard Law Review Association, 2000) [Reference Desk and Patron Services KF245 .B58]. Some information on the documentation of international organizations and foreign jurisdictions.

International Encyclopedia of Comparative Law (New York: Oceana) [BSR]. Some volumes are a bit dated, but it is a very useful set. Information on foreign legal systems as well as topics.

Modern Legal Systems Cyclopedia (K. Redden ed., Buffalo, NY: W.S. Hein, 1984- ) [BSR K40 .M63].;Information on foreign legal jurisdictions. Quality of chapters varies.

M. Cohen, R. Berring & K. Olson, How to Find the Law (9th ed., St. Paul, MN: West Pub. Co., 1989) (Later editions and abridged editions do not cover international and foreign law.) [Reference Desk and Patron Services KF240 .C651 1989].;

Guide to International Legal Research (Salem, NH: Butterworths, 2004) [Reference Desk KZ1234 .G852].; A good place to start research for both international legal topics and foreign legal jurisdictions.

C. Germain, Germain 's Transnational Law Research (Ardsely-on-Hudson, N.Y.: Transnational Juris Publications, 1991-) [Patron Services K29 .G47].; Selected topics and some European countries.The chapter on French law is available on the web.

The International Lawyer's Deskbook (2nd ed., L. Law et al. eds, Washington, DC: Section of International Law and Practice, ABA, 2003) [Reference Desk K559 .I57 2002]. Good information on selected topics.

Introduction to Transnational Legal Transactions(M. Raisch and R. Shaffer, eds., New York: Oceana Publications, 1995) [K7615.4 .I58 1995].

T. Reynolds & A. Flores, Foreign Law: Current Sources of Codes and Basic Legislation in Jurisdictions of the World (Littleton, CO: Rothman, 1989-) [Reference Desk K20.A1 R49].;See also the electronic version, Foreign Law Guide (Boalt only).

Information Sources in Law (Winterton and Moys eds., 2nd ed., London; New Providence, N.J.: Bowker-Saur, 1997) [KJC76 .I54 1997]. Coverage of European countries.

Accidental Tourist on the New Frontier: an Introductory Guide to Global Legal Research (Littleton, CO: Rothman, 1998) [Reference Desk K85 .A27 1997].;

Guides on the Web

Abbreviations and Acronyms

International and foreign legal research means deciphering an alphabet soup.  Below are a few sources which are generally useful in solving pesky abbreviations problems. A general approach to finding the meaning of an abbreviation is to look in the source you found the abbreviation in first (a full title or name might have been indicated in an earlier footnote or there might be a table of abbreviations at the beginning of the book or periodical). Then try Bieber's (see below). Other sources to try are periodical indexes, an index of acronyms for organizations, a legal research guide, or an abbreviations list or dictionary for legal terms from a particular country. Searching full text law reviews (or case law) on LEXIS or WESTLAW is another good way to determine the meaning of an abbreviation.

Important Tools

Bieber's Dictionary of Legal Abbreviations (Prince ed., 5th ed., Buffalo, NY: Hein, 2001) [Reference Desk]. Also available on LEXIS. The older edition of Bieber's can also be useful.

Osmanczyk, Encyclopedia of the United Nations and International Agreements (3rd ed., NY: Taylor & Francis, 2003) [Reference Desk KZ4968 .O84 2003].

Index to Foreign Legal Periodicals (London: Institute of Advanced Legal Studies Chicago: American Association of Law Libraries, 1960- ) [Reading Room K2 .I38 IFLP]. Also available on the web (UCB only).

Raistrick, Index to Legal Citations and Abbreviations (2nd ed., Abingdon, Oxon: Professional Books, 1993) [Reference Desk K89 .R35 1993]. Good for European abbreviations.

Kavass, World Dictionary of Legal Abbreviations(Buffalo, NY: Hein, 1991-) [Reference Desk K89 .K38]. Covers various languages and subjects.

The Bluebook: A Uniform Style of Citations (17th ed., Cambridge, MA: Harvard Law Review Association, 2000) [Reference Desk and Patron Services KF245 .B58].

Szladits, A Bibliography on Foreign and Comparative Law: Books and Articles in English(Dobbs Ferry, NY: Oceana, 1995-) [BSR].

Acronyms and Abbreviations Covering the United Nations Systems and Other International Organizations (NY: UN, 1981) [Reference Desk KJ61.A16 T47].

Noble's International Guide to the Law Reports (Etobicoke, Ont. : Nicol Island Pub., 2002) [Reference Desk K20 .N62 2002]. Especially good for case reporters.

Law Reports Searchable by Abbreviation or Title

Cardiff Index to Legal Abbreviations

International and Foreign Law Terms and Phrases

Definitions of Terms

Relevant subject headings for LawCat and other bibliographic databases include:

international law--dictionaries
international relations--dictionaries
law--dictionaries--[language]
international organization--dictionaries
international law--encyclopedias

Below is a list of books that contain English-language definitions and descriptions of international and foreign legal terms and concepts. There are many dictionaries and encyclopedias devoted to specific international topics as well (for example, Dictionary of International Trade or Encyclopedia of Human Rights).

Bledsoe and Boczek, The International Law Dictionary(Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 1987) [KJ29 .B44].

Lindbergh, International Law Dictionary (London: Blackstone Press, 1992) [Reference Desk KJ29 .L55].

Osmanczyk, Encyclopedia of the United Nations and International Agreements (3rd ed., NY: Taylor & Francis, 2003) [Reference Desk KZ4968 .O84 2003].

Parry and Grant Encyclopaedic Dictionary of International Law (New York: Oceana, 2004) [Reference Desk KJ27 .E52 2004].

Encyclopedia of Public International Law (Amsterdam: North Holland, 12 vols., 1981-1990) [Reference Desk KJ29 .E54] and the new edition (1992-) [Reference Desk KJ29 .E54 1992].

Fox, Dictionary of International and Comparative Law (3rd ed., Dobbs Ferry, NY: Oceana, 2003) [Reference Desk KZ1161 .F69 2003].

Bennett, Historical Dictionary of the United Nations (London: Scarecrow Press, 1995) [UN Room KZ4969 .B46 1995].

International Law Dictionary and Directory — definitions of words and phrases used in private and public international law with cross-references (by link) to related words and phrases.

International Law — Encyclopaedia Britannica Online.

Treaty Reference Guide and Glossary of Terms Related to Treaty Actions

Foreign-Language Equivalents

To locate bilingual or polyglot dictionaries with English as one of the languages, use the following subject headings:

english language--dictionaries--[language]
[language] language--dictionaries--english
law--dictionaries--[language]
english language--dictionaries--polyglot
law--[country or region]--dictionaries
[subject]--dictionaries--[language or polyglot]

Herbst, Dictionary of Commercial, Financial and Legal Terms (Thun, Switzerland: Translegal, 1955-1965) [K54 .H47 1955].

West's Law and Commercial Dictionary in Five Languages: Definitions of the Legal and Commercial Terms and Phrases of American, English and Civil Law Jurisdictions (St. Paul, MN: West, 1985) [Reference Desk K54 .W47 1985].

English-French-Spanish-Russian Manual of the Terminology of Public International Law (Law of Peace) and International Organizations, (Brussels: Bruylant ; Deventer, The Netherlands : Kluwer, 1983) [KJ851.A16 P34].

LEXIS provides access to Dahl's French-English Law Dictionary and Dahl's Spanish-English Law Dictionary. We have these dictionaries in print as well.

YourDictionary.com — Access to a number of foreign language dictionaries. Some law dictionaries are available as well.

Background Information on an International or Foreign Law Concepts

In addition to the sources listed below, books and articles specifically on the topic should be checked. A subject or title word search in LawCat, other library catalogs, or in periodical indices may be used. Note that sometimes non-legal sources might be worth checking depending on the breadth of interest in or the interdisciplinary nature of the topic. Articles are a particularly good source for information on an event or concept, especially if it is a relatively new concept or a recent event.

Osmanczyk, Encyclopedia of the United Nations and International Agreements (3rd ed., NY: Taylor & Francis, 2003) [Reference Desk KZ4968 .O84 2003].

Encyclopaedic Dictionary of International Law (New York: Oceana, 1986) [Reference Desk KJ27 .E52].

Encyclopedia of Public International Law (Amsterdam: North Holland, 12 vols., 1981-1990) [Reference Desk KJ29 .E54] and the new edition (1992-) [Reference Desk KJ29 .E54 1992].

Parry and Grant Encyclopaedic Dictionary of International Law (New York: Oceana, 2004) [Reference Desk KJ27 .E52 2004].

Martindale Hubbell International Law Digest (New Providence, NJ: Martindale-Hubbell,1993- ) [Reference Desk K16 .M388]. Also available on LEXIS (INTLAW library; INTDIG file).

Restatement of the Law, Third, Foreign Relations Law of the United States (Philadelphia, PA: The American Law Institute, 1987 & Supp. 1998). Also available on LEXIS and WESTLAW. [Patron Services KF4651 .A581]

Yearbook of the United Nations (Norwell, MA: Kluwer, 1947- ). [UN Room]

Rengger and Campbell, Treaties and Alliances of the World (6th ed., London: Catermill, 1995) [Reference Desk KJ176 .T73 1995].

Information About Foreign Legal Systems

Subject headings for locating background information about a foreign country include:

law--[country or region]
comparative law
justice, administration of--[country or region]
legal research--[country]
courts--[country or region]

Searches can be done under specific legal topics using Library of Congress subject headings with the country or region name as a subheading (for example, commercial law--latin america) or by using the country or region as a main subject heading with topical subdivisions provided by the Library of Congress as subheadings (for example, australia--politics and government or germany--constitutional law or italy--law and legislation). Periodicals are another good source for background information on a country or on a specific topic.

Legal Systems

International Encyclopedia of Comparative Law (New York: Oceana) [BSR]. Some volumes are a bit dated, but it is a very useful set. Information on foreign legal systems as well as topics.

Modern Legal Systems Cyclopedia (K. Redden ed., Buffalo, NY: W.S. Hein, 1984- ) [BSR K40 .M63].Information on foreign legal jurisdictions. Quality of chapters varies.

Merryman, Civil Law Tradition: Europe, Latin America & East Asia (Charlottesville, VA: Michie Co., 1994) [K29 .M582].

Introduction to Foreign Legal Systems (R. Danner and M. Bernal eds., New York: Oceana, 1994). [Reference Desk K20.A1 .I57].

T. Reynolds & A. Flores, Foreign Law: Current Sources of Codes and Basic Legislation in Jurisdictions of the World (Littleton, CO: Rothman, 1989-) [Reference Desk K20.A1 R49]. See also the electronic version, Foreign Law Guide (Boalt only).

Information Sources in Law (Winterton and Moys eds., 2nd ed., London; New Providence, N.J.: Bowker-Saur, 1997) [KJC76 .I54 1997]. Coverage of European countries.

Accidental Tourist on the New Frontier: an Introductory Guide to Global Legal Research (Littleton, CO: Rothman, 1998) [Reference Desk K85 .A27 1997].

Glendon, Comparative Legal Traditions in a Nutshell (2nd ed., St. Paul, MN: West Group, 1999) [Patron Services K560 .G43 1999].

Some relevant Web sites include:

General (brief overviews)

The Statesman's Year-Book (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1864-) [Reference Desk K5 .S797].

The World Almanac and Book of Facts (New York: Newspaper Enterprise Association) [Reference Desk K5 .W927].

The World Factbook (Washington, D.C.: Central Intelligence Agency) [Reference Desk K5 .W67]. Also available on the web.

The Europa World Year Book (London: Europa Publications, 1989-) [Reference Desk K5 .E89].

Some useful Web sites include:

Background Information on International Organizations

Subject searches on LAWCAT, RLIN (UCB only), and periodical indexes under the name of the organization are useful for finding descriptions of international organizations. Yearbooks and dictionaries are excellent sources to check for this type of information. To locate information and materials by an international organization, use the organization's name as an author. Yearbooks and encyclopedias are also good sources for charters and constituting documents for international organizations.

For more assistance in researching international organizations, see the ASIL Guide to Electronic Resources for International Law: International Organizations.

G. Schiavone, International Organizations: A Dictionary (4th ed., London: Macmillan, 1997) [].

The Europa World Year Book (London: Europa Publications, 1989-) [].

Yearbook of International Organizations (Munchen: K.G. Saur, 1967-) []. See also the Union of International Associations website. Not all information on this site is freely available.

Encyclopedia of Associations: International Organizations (Detroit, MI: Gale Research Co., 1989-). [].

Encyclopedia of Public International Law (Amsterdam: North Holland, 12 vols., 1981-1990) [Reference Desk KJ29 .E54] and the new edition (1992-) [Reference Desk KJ29 .E54 1992].

International Organization and Integration (Dordrecht: Nijhoff, 1981-1984) [ KJ41 .I57 1981].

International Information: Documents, Publications, and Information Systems of International Governmental Organizations (2 vols., 2nd ed., P. Hajnal ed., Englewood, CO: Libraries, 1997) [Reference Desk KZ4850 .I58 1997].

Introduction to International Organizations (L. Louis - Jacques and J. Korman, eds., New York: Oceana Publications, 1996) [Patron Services KJ41 .I62 1996].

Williams, The Information Systems of International Inter-Governmental Organizations: A Reference Guide (Stanford, Conn.: Ablex, 1998) [on order].

Some relevant Web sites include:

Journal Articles

Journal literature is a good way to information on a topic, find a treaty citation, locate the text of a foreign law, the meaning of a term, figure out what an abbreviation stands for, etc. A list of periodical indices and sources of the full texts of periodical articles online follows:

Index to Foreign Legal Periodicals (London: Institute of Advanced Legal Studies Chicago: American Association of Law Libraries, 1960- ) [Reading Room K2 .I38 IFLP]. Also available on the web (UCB only). A multilingual index to articles and book reviews appearing in approximately 492 legal journals published worldwide, except those from the U.S., the U.K., Canada, and Australia.

Index to Legal Periodicals and Books (New York: H.W. Wilson Co.) [Reading Room K2 .I38 ILP]. Also available on LEXIS (LAWREV library, ILP file) and WESTLAW (ILP) (UCB only). This is the only print index with good historical coverage. Covers 925 legal journals, yearbooks, institutes, bar association organs, law reviews, and government publications originating in the United States, Canada, Great Britain, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand.

Legal Journals Index (Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire: Legal Information Resources Ltd., 1986-999). Available on WESTLAW (LJI) (UCB only). Indexes approximately 485 journals from the UK & Europe. Coverage is from 1986 on.

Legal Resource Index. Available on LEXIS (LAWREV library, LGLIND file) and WESTLAW (LRI). Also available on from the Law Library's homepage as LegalTrac (UCB only). The print equivalent is called Current Law Index (Los Altos, CA: Information Access Corp.,1980-) [Reading Room K2 .C8]. Indexes over 850 journals from the United States, Canada, Great Britain, New Zealand and Australia.

PAIS International (New York: Public Affairs Information Service, 1991- ) [print version available in main library]. Also available on the Web (UCB only). Provides international coverage of materials in government, international relations, legislation, political science, statistics, and related areas.

Szladits, A Bibliography on Foreign and Comparative Law: Books and Articles in English (Dobbs Ferry, NY: Oceana, 1995-) [K520 .S9]. An excellent source for locating English-language articles and books.

RAVE (Research of articles and decisions in Public International Law and European Law)

LEXIS and WESTLAW. Both have many full-text articles from a variety of journals. Access to periodical indexes is also available.

Citing International and Foreign Legal Materials

Unfortunately, there is not a really good source for how to cite to international and foreign legal materials. Use the sources listed below for some guidance. Otherwise, ask a librarian for assistance.

The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation (17th ed., Cambridge, MA: Harvard Law Review Association, 2000) [Patron Services and Reference Desk].

International Court of Justice, Yearbook (Hague, the Netherlands: The Court) [].

S. Rosenne, Practice and Methods of International Law 23-26, 53-54, 105-07, 121-22 (London; New York: Oceana, 1984) [].

The Chicago Manual of Style (14th ed., Chicago : University of Chicago Press, 1993) [].

LEXIS and WESTLAW. It is often a good idea to check how others are citing a document by conducting a search in full-text law review files.

Current Awareness Sources

Periodicals and newspapers, plus news wires, newsletters and press releases, are major sources for keeping abreast of new developments in international and foreign law. International and comparative law journals and yearbooks are of particular usefulness for up-to-date information on legal activities worldwide. Looseleaf services on international and foreign law-related topics often include a "current reports" section which contains new information. Key subject headings for locating periodicals in catalogs are:

international law--periodicals
comparative law--periodicals
[international organization]-- periodicals;
law--country or region]--periodicals
[legal topic in library of congress form]--[country or region]--periodicals

ASIL's International Law in Brief for new developments in international law.

Bulletin of Legal Developments (London, British Institute of International and Comparative Law) [].

Useful Web Sites

The sites listed below are usually good starting points for researching an international law topic since they maintain up-to-date collections of links.

FINDLAW's International Law Index

Foreign and International Law Web (Washburn University School of Law)

Hieros Gamos, Guide to International Law

Foreign and International Law Resources: An Annotated Guide to Web Sites Around the World (Harvard University Law Library)

Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law, Virtual Institute

NYU's Guide to Foreign and International Legal Databases

Public International Law (University of Western Australia)

WWW Virtual Library, Foreign and International Law (Indiana University)

Prepared by Marci Hoffman, International & Foreign Law Librarian, UC Berkeley Law Library. Prepared November 2004.

Last edited by Marci Hoffman, 24 August 2010