International Human Rights Law
Researching international human rights law can be a confusing mess of treaties and documents. The materials (for the most part) are not set out in a coherent, well organized fashion. The sources of information range from recognized treaty law to more ephemeral materials from non-governmental organizations. There are a few things to keep in mind when doing human rights research:
- the interdisciplinary nature of the topic
- the complexity of the topic and the materials
- the difficulty in locating and accessing materials issued by a variety of organizations.
The researcher needs to be resourceful, creative, and never become daunted by the task. Just when you are ready to give up is when you might find the needed material.
These sources are good starting points for general human rights research and to get some familiarity with various sources for this topic.
- ASIL Guide to Electronic Resources for International Law: Human Rights.
Other useful chapters in this guide include:
- EISIL (Electronic Information System for International Law).
- The European Human Rights System and the European Court of Human Rights. Research Guide (Columbia Law Library).
- [Update] to Guide to Country Research for Refugee Status Determination (LLRX.com).
- Guide to International Refugee Law Resources on the Web (LLRX.com).
- Human Rights Articles (Derechos -- Human Rights).
- Human Rights Bibliographies, University of Minnesota Human Rights Library.
- Human Rights Research-Frequently Asked Questions (Columbia Law Library).
- Human Rights Research: Get Started Online (Harvard).
- International Family Law: A Selective Resource Guide (LLRX.com).
- International Protection of Human Rights: Outline of the Process and Major Documents and a Brief Research Guide (University of Toronto).
- International Women's Human Rights and Humanitarian Law: Outline of Major Documents and a Brief Research Guide (University of Toronto).
- Research Guide on Internal Displacement (Forced Migration Online). Other research guides are available from FMO, arranged by region or theme.
- Research Guide: The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (Columbia Law Library).
- Researching Refugee Law (UC Berkeley Law Library)
- United Nations Documentation: Research Guide on Human Rights.
- Women's Human Rights Resources: Research Guides and Bibliographies (University of Toronto).
Background and General Sources
Bair, The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and its (first) Optional Protocol: A Short Commentary based on Views, General Comments, and Concluding Observations by the Human Rights Committee (Frankfurt am Main; New York: P. Lang, 2005).
Buergenthal, International Human Rights in a Nutshell (3th ed., St. Paul, Minn.: West Publishing Co., 2009).
The Charter of the United Nations: A Commentary (Bruno Simma ed., 2nd ed., Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2002).
Conde, A Handbook of International Human Rights Terminology (2nd ed., Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2004).
Henkin, Human Rights (New York, N.Y.: Foundation Press, 1999).
Human Rights in International Law: Basic Texts (3rd ed., Strasbourg: Council of Europe Publishing, 2007).
The Human Rights of Women: International Instruments and African Experiences (London; New York: Zed Books; Austria, 2002).
International Human Rights in Context: Law, Politics, Morals: Text and Materials (3rd ed., Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2008).
Newman and Weissbrodt, International Human Rights: Law, Policy, and Process (3rd ed., Cincinnati, Ohio: Anderson Pub., 2001).
Nowak, U.N. Covenant on Civil and Political Rights: CCPR Commentary (2nd. rev. ed., Kehl [Germany]; Arlington, Va., U.S.A.: N.P. Engel, 2005).
Osmanczyk, The Encyclopedia of the United Nations and International Agreements (3rd ed., NY: Taylor & Francis, 2003).
Parry and Grant Encyclopaedic Dictionary of International Law (3rd ed., New York: Oceana, 2009). Also available online (UCB only).
Rights of Women: A Guide to the Important United Nations Treaties on Women's Human Rights (2nd. ed., International Women's Tribune Centre, 1998).
Women and International Human Rights Law (Askin and Koenig eds., Ardsley, NY: Transnational, 1999-).
Listed below are selected subject searches for use in searching the online catalog, LawCat, for books, journals, papers, etc. in the Law Library's collection. When starting out, it is often best to do keyword searches and then identify the appropriate subject heading and then do a subject search.
civil rights--international law
human rights--[country or region]
social responsibility of business
women--legal status, laws, etc.
married women -- legal status, laws, etc. --[country]
children (international law)
Many periodicals (both legal and non-legal) contain articles on a variety of human rights issues. Be sure to use indexes listed below and not just full-text sources on LexisNexis and Westlaw. For more information on researching articles, see Locating International & Foreign Law Journal Articles.
The databases listed below may only be accessed by the UC Berkeley Community. Some of these databases are available through remote access. Be sure to set the proxy settings on your computer. Once the proxy settings have been set, you will be prompted for your CalNet user id and passphrase.
Index to Legal Periodicals and Books (ILP). Contains citations from more than 820 legal periodicals from 1981 and an index to law books published since 1993 from the United States, Canada, Ireland, Great Britain, Australia and New Zealand. Updated monthly. The print edition covers 1908 on. Also available in print and on LexisNexis and Westlaw. A retrospective version of ILP is also available, see the Law Library's list of databases.
Legal Resource Index (LRI). Indexes approximately 800 legal publications from the United States, Canada, Great Britain, New Zealand and Australia. It also covers law related articles from more than 1,000 additional business and general interest periodicals. Coverage begins in 1980 and is updated monthly. Also available in print as Current Law Index (until 2003) and on LexisNexis and Westlaw. Available from the Law Library's list of databases as Legaltrac.
Index to Foreign Legal Periodicals (IFLP). A multilingual index to articles and book reviews appearing in approximately 492 legal journals published worldwide. The print edition covers from 1960 on and the electronic version covers 1985 to present. Available from the Law Library's list of databases.
Legal Journals Index (LJI). Indexes approximately 485 journals from the UK & Europe. Coverage is from 1986 on. The print versions of this index (Legal Journals Index and European Legal Journals Index) discontinued in 1999. Legal Journals Index is available on Westlaw.
Current Index to Legal Periodicals (CILP). Provides access to approximately 475 university legal publications and other law journals. Good way to update your research since it indexes journals 4-6 weeks before they are picked up by ILP and LRI. Available from the Law Library's list of databases. CILP is also available on Westlaw.
HeinOnline, provides legal researchers with collections of the earliest legal periodicals and other legal classics that are out-of-print or hard to obtain in hardcopy (UCB only).
Other indexes that focus on law-related topics can also be of use when doing human rights research. All of these indexes are available from the UCB List of Article Databases (UCB only).
International Legal Instruments
Council of Europe, Human Rights in International Law: Basic Texts (3rd ed., Strasbourg: Council of Europe Publishing, 2007).
Human Rights Law in Africa (2 vols., Leiden; Boston, [Mass.]: Martinus Nijhoff, 2004).
The Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe: Basic Documents, 1993-1995 (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1997).
Human Rights: A Compilation of international Instruments (Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Geneva, New York: United Nations, 2002-).
Other collections of basic documents on international law, such as International Law & World Order: Basic Documents (Weston ed., Irvington-on-Hudson, N.Y.: Transnational Publishers, 1994-).
There are several sites on the Web for the full-text of human rights instruments.
- African Human Rights Documents
- Council of Europe Treaties
- Database on the United Nations Human Rights Treaty System
- EISIL (Electronic Information System for International Law)
- Human Rights--Multilaterals Project
- ILOLEX (labor conventions)
- International Humanitarian Law (ICRC)
- Legislationline (OSCE)
- Netherlands Institute of Human Rights (SIM), Instruments (by treaty or organization)
- Treaties and Agreements (OAS)
- Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (Basic Documents)
- United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR)
- United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
- United Nations Treaty Collection (UCB only)
- University of Minnesota Human Rights Library
- Women's Human Rights Resources
There are many other sources for status information. Consult sources from the body that issued the international instrument (the UN committee, the Council of Europe, etc.). For more detailed information about status information sources on the web, see ASIL Guide to Electronic Resources for International Law: Human Rights and Treaties. Many of the sources listed below also contain information about reservations.
Multilateral Treaties Deposited with the Secretary-General (New York: United Nations, 1982-). See also the UN Treaty Collection.
International Labour Office, Ratifications of the Fundamental Human Rights Convention and by country web site.
Bowman and Harris, Multilateral Treaties: Index and Current Status (London: Butterworths, 1984). Has a supplement, but it has not been updated in awhile.
UNHCHR, Human Rights Bodies, select the page for the treaty body; each page has ratification information linked on the left side of the page.
Basic Documents Pertaining to Human Rights in the Inter-American System (Washington, DC: IACHR Court, General Secretariat, Organization of American States, 1988-). More current editions on the web.
International Humanitarian Law Database: States Parties.
Council of Europe, provides status information, signatures and ratifications, and declarations and reservations.
U.S. Dept. of State, Office of the Legal Advisor, Treaties in Force: A List of Treaties and Other International Acts of the United States (Washington, DC: Office of the Legal Advisor, 1929-). Available on the web. Update this publication with Current Treaty Actions, available only on the State Dept. web site .
Wiktor, Multilateral Treaty Calendar, 1648-1995 (The Hague: M. Nijhoff, 1998).
Netherlands Institute of Human Rights (SIM), RATIF (by country or organization).
Case Law, Jurisprudence, Reports and Decision
UN Treaty Bodies
Most UN committees (Human Rights Committee, Committee on the Rights of the Child, etc.) issue decisions, recommendations, views, annual reports, and other documents to the General Assembly or ECOSOC. Not every committee issues all of these kinds of documents. Most of the documents listed below can be located by using the indexes to UN documents. For more detailed information about the types of documents issued by these bodies, see United Nations Documentation: Research Guide on Human Rights. Another great tool for figuring out UN documents and tools is our UN Resources & Research Tools guide.
Use the following tools to locate the UN document number and date of the document. Once you have the document number and the date, use the UN Room to locate the documents.
- AccessUN (1944-present) (UCB only)
The best index for locating U.N. documents by keyword, author, title or U.N. symbol. Contains some full-text documents.
- UNBISnet - UN Bibliographic Information System
Catalogue of UN publications and documentation indexed by the United Nations Dag Hammarskjöld Library and the Library of the UN Office at Geneva, and non-UN publications held in the collection of the Dag Hammarskjöld Library. Also includes voting records and index of speeches.
- UN-I-QUE: United Nations Info Quest
Good for identifying documents for certain categories of materials.
- United Nations Official Documents (ODS)
A fully searchable database, ODS covers all types of official United Nations documentation, beginning in 1993. Older UN documents are, however, added to the system on a daily basis. ODS also provides access to the resolutions of the General Assembly, Security Council, Economic and Social Council and the Trusteeship Council from 1946 onwards.
Many of the general comments and recommendations, decisions, views, and consideration of reports of the UN treaty bodies listed below can be found on the Internet.
- UNHCHR, Treaty-based bodies, see aslo search the Treaty Bodies Database (see the old Treaty Bodies Database page).
- University of Minnesota Human Rights Library, Other Treaty-Based Committees.
- The United Nations Human Rights Treaties (bayefsky.com) . Provides easy access to documents from the major treaty bodies of the UN. Access is by state, category, or subject.
- Netherlands Institute of Human Rights (SIM), Case Law Database (CCPR, CERD, CEDAW, country reports, and general comments and general recommendations).
- Refworld (UNHCR), a searchable collection on treaty body case law.
- Universal Human Rights Index of UN Documents, access to observations recommendations of UN human rights treaty bodies and the special procedures of the Human Rights Council.
International Human Rights Instruments, Compilation of General Comments and General Recommendations Adopted by Human Rights Bodies (New York: United Nations, 1994-). The most current version is U.N. Doc. HRI/GEN/1/Rev.9 (Vol.1) and HRI/GEN/1/Rev.9 (Vol. II) (available in PDF).
Some of these documents are reproduced in periodicals such as Human Rights Law Journal (Kehl am Rhein: N.P. Engel, 1980-).
For more assistance in locating UN documents, see Wiltrud Harms (in the UN Room) or Marci Hoffman.
Relevant LawCat subject headings are civil rights--cases and human rights--cases.
Documents from the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights can be difficult to obtain in print. Try searching by author, keyword or by subject.
African Human Rights Law Reports (Cape Town: Juta Law, 2000-). Contains selected national decisions as well as decisions from the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights and the United Nations treaty bodies, dealing with African countries. The reports from 2000-2004 are available on the web.
Some documents and decisions are available on the web:
- African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights (see the "Activity Reports" under "Documentation")
- Decisions of the African Commission (University of Minnesota Human Rights Library)
- African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights
- Coalition for an Effective African Court on Human and Peoples Rights
Author searches and subject searches are useful for finding decisions and information issued by the European Commission, the European Court, and the Council of Europe. The European Commission was replaced with a full time Court pursuant to Protocol 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
European Commission of Human Rights, Decisions and Reports (Strasbourg: The Commission,1975-1998).
European Human Rights Reports (London: European Law Center, Ltd.). Also available on LexisNexis and Westlaw.
Council of Europe, Yearbook of the European Convention on Human Rights (The Hague: M. Nijhoff, 1960-).
European Court of Human Rights, Publications of the European Court of Human Rights (Strasbourg: Greffe de la Cour, Conseil de l'Europe). Series A (1961-1996), Series B (1960-1995). Series A contains the official judgments and decisions and Series B contains pleadings, oral arguments and documents. Continued by European Court of Human Rights, Recueil Des Arrêts et Décisions=Reports of Judgments and Decisions (Köln: Carl Heymanns Verlag, 1996-).
The best access to the European Court of Human Rights is through its web sites:
Materials from the OAS can be difficult to locate and obtain. Try author searches as well as keyword and subject searches. The primary bodies are the Inter-American Commission and the Inter-American Court.
Inter-American Court of Human Rights, Annual Report (Washington, DC: General Secretariat, Organization of American States, 1981-). Annual reports from 1998 onwards are available on the Court's web site.
Inter-American Court of Human Rights, Series A: Judgments and Opinions, Series B: Pleadings, Oral Arguments and Documents, and Series C: Decisions and Judgments. The jurisprudence of the Court is available on the Court's web site.
Inter-American Yearbook on Human Rights (Washington, DC: General Secretariat of the Organization of American States, 1968-). Provides background information, key instruments, documents, and a discussion of human rights practices in selected OAS countries.
A good bit of documentation is available on the web.
For other sources search LawCat using the subject heading International law --cases.
Butterworths Human Rights Cases (BHRC) (London: Butterworths). Available on Lexis from 1996 on (International Law > Cases). Covers landmark decisions from international, European and English courts and tribunals.
Commonwealth Human Rights Law Digest (London: Interights, 1996-). The Commonwealth and International Human Rights Case Law Databases is available on the Interights web site. Provides access to case law from international human rights bodies and Commonwealth country courts.
Court of Justice of the European Communities, Reports of Cases Before the Court of Justice and the Court of the First Instance (Luxembourg: Court of Justice of European Community, 1954-). Some decisions are also available on the Court's web site.
Human Rights Law Journal (HRLJ) (Kehl am Rhein [West Germany]; Arlington [Va.]: N.P. Engel, 1980-). Reprints selected cases from various international human rights courts and bodies.
International Human Rights Reports (IHRR) (Nottingham, U.K.: Human Rights Law Centre, Dept. of Law, University of Nottingham, 1994-). Reproduces cases from the UN Human Rights Committee, the UN Committee against Torture, CERD, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, the Inter American Court of Human Rights, the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights, the Yugoslav and Rwanda War Crimes Tribunals, and the Bosnian Human Rights Chamber.
International Legal Materials (Washington, DC: American Society of International Law, 1962-). Also available on HeinOnline (UCB only), Lexis and Westlaw. Reprints selected cases from international courts and tribunals.
International Law Reports (London: Butterworths). Reprints, in English, selected decisions from the highest national courts as well as international courts and tribunals. Also available online (UCB only).
Oxford Reports on International Law: International Human Rights Law module (UCB only) provides access to jurisprudence from the African Commission, the European Court of Human Rights, and several UN Human Rights Treaty Bodies.
- European Court of Justice
- International Court of Justice
- Germain's International Court of Justice Research Guide (Cornell)
- World Court Digest, a compendium of the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice
- International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia
- Topical Digest of the Case Law (Human Rights Watch)
- International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda
- International Criminal Court
- Special Court for Sierra Leone
- Commonwealth and International Human Rights Case Law Databases (Interights)
- Netherlands Institute of Human Rights (SIM) Case Law Database
- University of Michigan Law School, Refugee Caselaw Site
- Refworld (UNHCR)
- WorldLII, International Courts Tribunals Project
Many journals reprint cases from various jurisdictions as well as international tribunals.
There are many international organizations which focus on human rights. Some of these organizations promulgate instruments and adjudicate human rights issues. Non-governmental organizations play an important role in the development of norms, institutions, and procedures for protecting human rights. A great deal of information is produced by both IGOs and NGOs. Author searches by the name of the organization will often produce a list of the reports and documents produced by the organization or try keyword searches. Many of these organizations are now supplying documents and reports via the web.
To locate a relevant IGO or NGO on the web, see the following web sites:
- Human Rights Internet, Human Rights Databank: Internet Directory.
- International Organizations (Northwestern University Library).
- International Agencies and Information on the Web (University of Michigan Library).
Selected Inter-Governmental Organizations
- United Nations (UN)
- International Labour Organization (ILO)
- Council of Europe (COE)
- European Union (EU)
- Organization of American States (OAS)
- Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)
- African Union (AU)
- UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
Selected Non-Governmental Organizations
There are many NGOs working in the area of human rights and related topics.
- Amnesty International
- See Research page
- Human Rights Internet
- Human Rights Watch
- Human Rights First (formerly Lawyers Committee for Human Rights)
- International Committee of the Red Cross
For more information on human rights NGOs, see EISIL (Electronic Information System for International Law).
Many international organizations produce reports on the human rights conditions for various countries. Human rights activists and lawyers rely on these reports for asylum proceedings and when appearing before various treaty bodies and tribunals.
Africa Action. A good collection of information relating to many issues in Africa.
Asylumlaw.org. A site with several kinds of materials, including human rights reports on several countries by the governments of the UK and other countries. It provides resources for case support (country condition information), legal research, and links to other relevant sites. The site now includes about 800 documents on country conditions, arranged by topics and country. They can be found by browsing the documents in the Case Support section. Briefs, an expert witness database, and a discussion forum are available by registering on the site (registration is free). There is a super search which allows the researcher to search 15 human rights databases at once.
The Brookings Institute creates reports on a variety of topics and countries.
Canadian Immigration and Refugee Board, Quarterly Reports (Ottawa, Canada: Research Directorate, Documentation, Information and Research Branch, Immigration and Refugee Board, quarterly). Check out their web site.
Center for Gender and Refugee Studies (UC Hastings). Links to legal documentation and country condition information.
Country Reports on Human Rights Practices (annual, Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1977-). The reports from 1999 to present are on the web. See also the State Dept.'s Annual Report on International Religious Freedom, the Trafficking in Persons Report and the Report Against Torture.
Critique: Review of the Department of State's Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for... (annual, New York: Lawyers Committee for Human Rights & Human Rights Watch, 1983-1996). See also the Human Rights First web site (formerly the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights).
Electronic Frontier Foundation is a non-profit group that works in the area of digital rights.
FBIS (Foreign Broadcast Information Service) Daily Reports (Washington, D.C.: Foreign Broadcast Information Service, 1979-1996). FBIS is a microfiche collection consisting of translated broadcasts, news agency transmissions, newspapers, periodicals and government statements from nations around the globe. There is an electronic index which covers 1975-1996. The print was continued in part with FBIS Publications on CD-ROM (1997-2001) and in part by World News Connection (see below) (UCB only).
Forced Migration Online. Access a wide variety of documents, articles, reports regarding forced migrants worldwide. Research guides and handbooks are also available.
For the Record: The United Nations Human Rights System (Human Rights Internet). Other information from HRI is available on their web site.
Freedom in the World (annual, New York: Freedom House, 1978-). Provides an annual comparative assessment of the state of political rights and civil liberties (including use of the internet) in 192 countries and 14 related and disputed territories. The most recent edition is available on the web. Earlier editions are also available.
Human Rights in Development Yearbook (annual, Oslo: Norwegian University Press, 1998-). Continues Human Rights in Developing Countries.
Human Rights Watch, World Report (annual, New York: Human Rights Watch, 1990-). The current report and much more information by topic or country is available on the web. See also Free Expression and the Internet on this site.
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights Publications, including Annual Reports, Country Reports, and other publications. Many of these are available in print as well.
Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, see countries section for the IDMC's yearly report on global trends and developments relating to internal displacement. See also the resources section for documents and links related to IDP.
International Crisis Group. Materials on preventing and resolving conflicts.
International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights. Search "Documents and Publications" for information by country or by topic.
International Journal on Minority and Group Rights (The Hague; Boston: Kluwer Law International, 1997-). Also available on the web from 1996 to present.
IRIN (Integrated Regional Information Networks) provides provide news and analysis about sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia.
Privacy International works on surveillance and privacy invasions by governments and corporations.
Refugee Law Center. Provides court and legal documents, country condition information and other documentation.
Refugee Survey Quarterly (Geneva : UNHCR, Centre for Documentation on Refugees, 1994-). Continues Refugee Abstracts.
ReliefWeb. Contains many documents and reports on humanitarian relief and operations. Good source of news.
U.K., Border and Immigration Agency, Country Specific Asylum Policy documents provide brief summaries of the general, political and human rights situation in the country and describe common types of claims.
UNHCR, Refworld, contains country reports, national legislation and case law, and all public domain UNHCR protection policies and guidelines.
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Human Development Report [year] (New York: Oxford University Press, 1990-). The most recent edition is available on the web.
World News Connection, contains the full text summaries of non-U.S. newspaper articles, conference proceedings, radio and television broadcasts, periodicals and non-classified technical reports. See also FBIS Daily Reports above (UCB only).
Other sources to consult for information on country situations include newspapers (New York Times, Los Angeles Times, etc.) and periodical literature. In order to locate relevant periodical articles, try using a legal periodical index. Both Lexis and Westlaw have good coverage of news sources from around the world.
See the other databases listed below for access to several resources for news and articles. Some good databases include GenderWatch, Ethnic NewsWatch, and Contemporary Women's Issues. See also the list of News Databases available from the main library.
Researching international human rights often requires finding foreign law from various jurisdictions. For more information researching foreign legal systems, see the Researching Foreign and Comparative Law guide. Here are some useful starting points.
Also, a good starting point is the United Nations, Core Document Forming Part of the Reports of States Parties, U.N. Doc. HRI/Core/1/Add./ (year). This document provides information on the general political structure of states, including basics of the legal system. See this example for the Republic of Korea, U.N. Doc. HRI/Core/1/Add. 125 (2003).
Be sure to consult a research guide for the country you are researching. A guide can help with locating legislation as well as case law. See A Selective List of Guides to Foreign Legal Research (Columbia Law Library) or Globalex (NYU Law Library) for access to country research guides.
- International Constitutional Law
- Constitution Finder
- Researching Constitutional Law on the Internet
- African Constitutions
Listed below are some suggested sources for specific topics. This is not an exhaustive list.
Reynolds and Flores, Foreign Law: Current Sources of Codes and Basic Legislation in Jurisdictions of the World (Littleton, CO: F.B. Rothman, 1989-). Also available on the web (UCB only).
International Labour Office, Labour Law Documents (Geneva, Switzerland: International Labour Office, 1990-1995). Updated information is available on NATLEX, see next.
NATLEX: A database of national labour law.
Equality in Law Between Men and Women in the European Community Series (Boston: M. Nijhoff Publishers, 1994-). Covers many jurisdictions.
A good collection of foreign law links on a variety of topics is available on the WashLaw website.
Global Legal Information Network (GLIN) (see Marci Hoffman or Reference Desk for assistance). The Global Legal Information Network (GLIN) is a database of laws, regulations, and other complementary legal sources from various countries in the Americas, Africa, Asia and Europe. The basic elements of this database are: (1) full texts of the documents in the official language of the country of origin; (2) summaries or abstracts in English; and (3) thesauri in English and in as many official languages as are represented in the database. The summaries or abstracts are linked electronically to the corresponding full texts. (Boalt only).
International Digest of Health Legislation (World Health Organization).
Legislationline (ODIHR). Collection of national laws regarding human rights, democracy, the rule of law, and more.
Foreign & International Law Resources: An Annotated Guide to Web Sites Around the World (Harvard Law Library). Provides links to sources by topic and by jurisdiction.
Refworld Legal Collection (UNHCR). Contains selected national legislation.
The Law Library has case law from many jurisdictions, both Commonwealth countries and Civil law countries. The titles listed below are just a few of the compilations that are available.
Bulletin on Constitutional Case Law (Strasbourg: Secretariat of the Venice Commission, 1993-). This publication contains summaries of decisions sent in by the constitutional courts or their equivalents of nearly 50 countries, the European Court of Human Rights and the Court of Justice of the European Communities. See also the Commission's website.
Commonwealth Human Rights Law Digest (London: Interights, 1996-). The Commonwealth and International Human Rights Case Law Databases is available on the Interights website. Provides access to case law from international human rights bodies and Commonwealth country courts. The web database provides summaries only.
International Human Rights Reports (Nottingham, UK: Human Rights Law Center, Department of Law, University of Nottingham, 1994-) [IHHR]. Reproduces cases from the UN Human Rights Committee, the UN Committee against Torture, CERD, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, the Inter American Court of Human Rights, the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights, the Yugoslav and Rwanda War Crimes Tribunals, and the Bosnian Human Rights Chamber.
International Labour Law Reports (Alphen Ann de Rijn: Sijthoff and Noordhoff, 1975-) [ILLR]. Reprints labor law cases from national courts.
International Law Reports (London: Butterworths). Reprints, in English, selected decisions from the highest national courts as well as international courts and tribunals. Also available online (UCB only).
International Law in Domestic Courts (ILDC) (UCB only). A collection of domestic cases in international law from over 60 jurisdictions. This is part of a larger collection called Oxford Reports on International Law (UCB only).
Refworld Legal Collection (UNHCR). Contains selected cases from various jurisdictions. Sorting by document type and country is available.
LexisNexis and Westlaw have some case law from selected countries (coverage varies).
Many national courts now publish case law on the web. To locate court websites, see:
Citing to International and Foreign Legal Materials
You should try to follow The Bluebook (18th ed.) as closely as possible, but keep in mind that it is not always adequate for the materials you will be citing. Use the rules and examples as models and try to include as much information as possible so that someone else can locate the materials.
Some general rules to keep in mind:
- Provide enough information so someone else will be able to locate what you have cited.
- Be consistent throughout the document.
- Check the source by searching the full text law review files on both LexisNexis and Westlaw to determine how other journals are citing to the same source.
Internet Materials, Rule 18.2, format suggestion:
[name of source], [the provider of the resource if not apparent from the URL], available at [URL] (last visited [date]).
The Bluebook does not provide guidance for all jurisdictions. Use Rule 20 and Table 2 for some basic guidance.
The Bluebook now provides more guidance for international materials, including international case law. See rule 21.5.3 for the citation format for the European Court of Human Rights; rule 21.5.4 for the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (there is also an example for the Court); 21.5.6 for international criminal tribunals; and 21.5.7 for other multinational courts. There is a bit more clarification on UN documents (rule 21.7) and some information for other IGOs (rule 21.8). See also Tables 3 and 4.
Other Relevant Resources
- Annual Review of Population Law
- Bill of Rights Comparative Law Materials
- Brookings-Bern Project on Internal Displacement
- Buffalo Criminal Law Center, Criminal Law Resources on the Internet
- Center for Reproductive Rights
- EISIL (Electronic Information System for International Law)
- Forced Migration Online (FMO)
- Human Rights and Constitutional Rights
- Human Rights Network International
- HuriSearch (searches over 4500 human rights websites)
- IGC Internet
- Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (formerly Global IDP Project)
- International Center for Research on Women
- International Humanitarian Law Research Initiative (must register to use)
- International Women's Rights Action Watch
- Minnesota Human Rights Library
- Minnesota Human Rights Library Links
- Women's Human Rights Resources
For remote access to some of these databases, please be sure to follow the Proxy Server Setup Instructions.
LexisNexis and Westlaw
LexisNexis and Westlaw provide access to newspapers, journal articles, and some treaties and agreements. Generally, there is not a lot of information on human rights available from these databases. LexisNexis provides access to the European Human Rights Reports from 1960 and Westlaw provides access to ICJ, ICTY, and ICTR cases.
Web Based Translators
These free sites can provide a quick and dirty translation of a web page in another language. These translations should not be relied upon for accuracy, but they will give you an idea of what the page is about. Simply cut and paste the text or url for a translation from one language to another.