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International and Foreign Law Source Collecting

Getting Started

If possible, have a copy of the article and your source collection list handy.  Sometimes using only the source collection list is confusing and the article text can help decipher what you need to collect.

You also need to be able to read citations.  Citations to sources come in all sorts of formats.  There are many examples listed in each step below, but this is a general breakdown.

Basics of citation:

[volume number] abbreviation of source [page number]

Journal article:

Joshua Segev, Who Needs a Constitution? In Defense of the Non-decision Constitution-Making Tactic in Israel, 70 Alb. L. Rev. 409 (2007).

author’s name, title of article, [volume number] abbreviation of journal [page on which article begins] [page that contains cited information] (year of publication)


Protocol to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, Mar. 20, 1952, 213 U.N.T.S. 262.

name of treaty, date of signing, [volume number] abbreviation of source [first page of the treaty]

Some General Sources

When source collecting for a law journal article, you should be aware of some general sources.

  • LawCat (Law Library's online catalog; use to locate books and journals).
  • International & Foreign Law Research Guides (covering a variety of topics: treaties, foreign law, human rights, etc.; good for late night guidance on locating sources).
  • Library Databases (UN Treaty Collection, Constitutions of the Countries of the World, etc.; a list of databases is available on the Law Library's website).
  • Reference librarians are available in the Law Library.  You can also come by Marci's office (218 Boalt) or send an email.

The following steps outline the process for locating international and foreign legal sources. Keep in mind that this is general guidance and may not work for every source.

Step 1: Review Sources

Review all of the sources you need to collect and break them down into categories. Check the article when a citation is unclear.

Primary Sources

  • Treaties and international agreements
  • Foreign law (statutes and case law)
  • International case law
  • Documents from inter-governmental organizations (IGOs - UN, EU, WTO)

Secondary Sources

  • Books
  • Articles (law and law-related)
  • Newspaper articles
  • Reports and documents from non-governmental organizations (NGOs)
  • Other

For more information on primary and secondary sources in international and foreign law, see the Sources of Law handout.

Step 2: Abbreviations

Decipher abbreviations used in citations.

Translate the abbreviations by using one or a combination of these sources. If none of these sources work, ask for assistance.

Step 3: International Legal Sources

Locate the international legal sources.

Treaties & International Agreements

If you have a citation to the treaty, interpret the abbreviation and go directly to the source (search LawCat by the title of the source).

If you need a citation, try searching EISIL or consult Frequently-Cited Treaties and Other International Instruments (includes a quick list of abbreviations and sources for treaties).

Consult some of the following databases, available from the Library's alphabetic list of databases

If you have citations, you can go directly to the print sources or the electronic equivalents.

Example 1:

Geneva Convention (III) Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War, art. 4(2), Aug. 12, 1949, 75 U.N.T.S. 135.

  • Since you have the U.N.T.S. citation, you can locate it on HeinOnline using this citation.
  • If you didn't a citation to this treaty, you can locate it easily by checking Frequently-Cited Treaties and Other International Instruments. From here, you can access the text of the treaty as well as a good citation.

Example 2:

Hague Convention (V) Respecting the Rights and Duties of Neutral Powers and Persons during War on Land, art. 1. Oct 18, 1907.

  • Search on EISIL using the advanced search mechanism and search "American Convention on Human Rights" as a phrase. 
  • Click on the box that says"more information" and you will find a link to the convention as well as citation information.  

Example 3:

Eur. Soc. Chtr, Oct. 18, 1961, Council of Eur., art. 19, C.E.T.S. 035.

  • From the citation, you know this is a treaty from the Council of Europe and it's published in the European Treaty Series/ 
  • The best place to go is the Council of Europe treaty website.Go to the complete list and look for treaty no. 35.

For more assistance locating the text of treaties, see Researching Treaties and International Agreements.

U.N. Documents

If you have a U.N. document number (cited as "U.N. Doc. A/CONF...]"), try locating the document by using the following websites:

  • Official Document Service (ODS)
    Official UN documents from 1993; also provides access to the resolutions of the General Assembly, Security Council, Economic and Social Council and the Trusteeship Council from 1946 onwards. Documents are available in PDF.
  • UNBISnet
    Can search by keywords and UN document numbers; coverage is from 1979 onwards. Some full-text documents are available.
  • UN Documentation Centre
    A good source for UN resolutions and other selected documents.
  • International Law page on the UN website
  • See rule 21.7 and Table 3 of The Bluebook for help deciphering UN abbreviations.

Example 1:

UNSC Resolution 808 (1993), S/RES/808(808), 22 Feb. 1993.

  • This is a UN Security Council resolution and all of these are available at UN Documentation Centre.
  • Also available by searching UNBISnet or ODS.
  • Note that "(808)" is incorrect. 

Example 2:

UNHCR, Exec. Comm., Note on International Protection, U.N. Doc. A/AC.96/951 (Sept. 13, 2001)..

  • Use te document symbol, A/AC.96/951 to locate the document on ODS.  Select "simple search" and type in the number in the "symbol" field.   
  • The document is also available on the UNHCR REFWORLD website by type of document.

Example 3: 

Draft articles on Responsibility of States for Internationally Wrongful Acts, International Law Commission, art. 35.

  • Google this information, without the art. 35.
  • A result should be the page from ILC website on state reponsibility and there is a link to the Draft articles in English.

For more assistance with locating UN documents, see Researching the United Nations.

European Union Materials

For EU (EC or EEC) citations, try the following sites:

  • Eur-Lex
    EU Law portal which provides access to the Official Journal (OJ), COM documents, and more.
  • European Court of Justice
  • Both LexisNexis and Westlaw have EU collections.
  • See rule 21.9 and Table 3.3 of The Bluebook fo rhelp deciphering EU citations and materials.

Example 1:

Council Regulation 44/2001 of Dec. 22, 2000 on Jurisdiction And The Recognition and Enforcement And Enforcement Of Judgments And Commercial Matters, 2001 O.J. (L12).

  • Start with Eur-Lex.
  • Search by document number: select "regulation"; 2001 is te year; 44 is the number.
  • This search produces 11 hits, select no. 11 -- select the "bibliographic record" and you will have all of the information you need plus a link to the PDF.

Example 2:

Council of the European Union, Council Conclusions On The Communication From The Commission To The European Parliament And The Council – A Comprehensive Approach On Personal Data Protection In The European Union, Feb. 24-25, 2011.

  • The author points to this website --
  • Select "Documents" from the top bar.
  • Search for the title of the document in the Register. 

International Case Law

If you have a citation to a case, decipher the abbreviation and go directly to the source by searching LawCat by the title of the source. Otherwise, try the website of the international court of tribunal. To locate the website of the court or tribunal, try EISIL or WorldLII's International Courts & Tribunals Project.

We subscribe to several databases that provide access to internationcal case law:

Example 1: 

Middle East Cement Shipping and Handling Co. S.A. v. Arab Republic of Egypt, ICSID Case No. ARB/99/6, Award (12 Apr. 2002) ¶107.

  • Start with the ICSID website and select Search Cases from the left site of the page.
  • Click on "advanced search options" and search by case no. - ARB/99/6.
  • Since this is a pending case, there is no other information to access.

Example 2: 

Factory at Chorzów (Germany v. Poland), P.C.I.J. Series A. No. 17, at 47 (1928).. 

  • Start by determining what P.C.I.J. means.  Use one of the sources noted above for determining abbreviations in citations.  This is the set called Permanent Court of International Justice.
  • You want series A of the set that publishes the PCIJ decisions, Publications of the Permanent Court of International Justice, Series A/B.  The recordon LawCat provides information about the print and a link to the collection on HeinOnline.
  • The cases are also available on the ICJ website.

Example 3: 

Byrzykowski v. Poland, ECHR Judgment of June 27, 2006, ¶¶ 124, 127.

  • From the context of the article or by using a source for abbreviations, determine what ECHR means -- European Court of Human Rights. 
  • Google or use EISIL to go to the Court's HUDOC database and search for the case.  Search by the name of the case, Byrzykowski v. Poland, in the "Case Title" field. 
  • See Rule 21 of the Bluebook on citing cases from this court.

Example 4:

In re: Bodil Lindqvist, Case C-101/01 (Euro. Ct. of Justice Nov. 6, 2003).

  • This is a case from the European Court of Justice.
  • Go to the Court's website and search by the case number -- C-101/01.
  • The Court's website doesn't provide the citation to the official report (E.C.R.) as required by the Bluebook. You can get the citation from the print, Eur-Lex, Lexis or Westlaw.

Example 5:

Dadar v. Can., Comm. No. 258/2004 (Comm. Ag. Torture, Dec. 5, 2005). [Note: 258/2004 is not a UN document number.]

  • This is a case from the UN Treaty Body, Committee Against Torture (CAT).  
  • Jurisprudence from all such treaty bodies are available on the Treaty Bodies Database, UNHCHR website.
  • Select the treaty (CAT); the country (Canada); the type of document (jurisprudence); and document (258).
  • The Minnesota Human Rights Library also has this jurisprudence.

Step 4: Foreign Legal Sources

Locate foreign legal sources (non-U.S. materials)

Use Foreign Law Guide for information about the jurisdiction and sources. See the sources noted in Step 2 for help with foreign law citations.  See also The Bluebook can help with information on selected jurisdictions, see Table 2.

There are many electronic sources for foreign law.  Some of the best and easiest to use are the Legal Information Institutes through the Free Access to Law Movement, such as CANLII, AUSTLII and BAILII. 

Research guides for the jurisdiction can also be helpful in locating sources, see Globalex or A Selective List of Guides to Foreign Legal Research.

Constitutions, Statutes & Codes

Example 1:

Consitution, Mar. 13, 1973

  • You need to look at the text of the article to determine the country in question.
  • Use Constitutions of the Countries of the World, available in print and from the databases page on the law library's website.  Contains English language versions of constitutions.
  • Depending on the date of the constitution, see also World Constitions Illustrated, available on HeinOnline.

Example 2:

Asylum Act, 2005.

  • You need to look at the text of the article to determine the country in question. 
  • The UNHCR REFWORLD website is a good place for locating national legislation on refugee related topics, like asylum, immigration, aliens, etc. 
  • Select the country from the drop-down box; click on type of document and select national legislation; you can use the filter to search for "asylum."

Example 3:

Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009, c.11, § 55(1)(a).

  • From the text of the article, this is a British act.
  • One of the best sources for UK British law is called BAILII.
  • Select Legislation Search and enter the name of the act. 

Case Law

Some national case law may be available on the web or in journal literature. Keep in mind that case law can be difficult to obtain and may not be available in English.

Example 1:

Appl. N. Kesbir & Min. Immigr. & Integr., LJN: AQ5615, Raad van State, 200402639/1 and 200402651/1 (Council St., Neths., July 23, 2004) reprinted at ILDC 144 (NL 2004).
  • ILDC is the abbreviation for a subscription database available from Oxford Reports on International Law (UCB only).  It stands for International Law in Domestic Courts.  Select "advanced search"; choose ILDC module from the list; and type 144 in the number field.

Example 2:

HCJ 246/81 Agudat Derech Eretz v. Broadcasting Authority 35(4) P.D. 1 (1981) (Isr.).

  • This case is from the Israeli High Court of Justice Table 2 of The Bluebook explains how to read this citation.
  • The source is Piske Din (PD) which is only available in Hebrew.  
  • For Israeli cases, see the Court's database. The best way to search is by case number (drop the CA or HCJ) or by name of the case.  English translations are often available.

For further assistance with researching non-US law, see Researching Foreign and Comparative Law.

Step 5: Books and Journal Articles

Locate books and journal articles.

Search for books and journals by using library catalogs, in the following order:

  • LawCat (the Law Library's catalog)
  • Melvyl (UC campus libraries, including the Law Library (although no records since July 2007), good for locating electronic versions on non-law journals)
  • OskiCat (UC Berkeley libraries, does not include the Law Library)
  • FirstSearch: WorldCat (libraries around the globe, good for determining if a title exists and which library owns it)

Search by author or title first and then try keyword searching. Keyword searches can include author names, editor names, or words from the title. Sometimes citations in articles are incorrect so always check the title by doing a keyword search. Drop initial articles when searching by title.

Collect the books and check them out using one of the journal library cards. If not available locally, initiate retrieval requests since these can take several weeks. See the Reference Librarians for assistance with borrowing books from other libraries.

Many books may not be in the law library because of the topic of the book. Be sure to check Melvyl or OskiCat.

Book Chapters

Example 1:


  • The clue here is the word in — you cannot look up the chapter, you must search the title of the book.
  • Use LawCat to look up the title of the book and locate it in the library.


Example 1:

1 J.B. Moore, Digest of International Law 107-108 (1906).

  • Look up the title on LawCat.
  • You need volume 1 and it's available on HeinOnline, which is linked in the LawCat record.

Example 2:

Joel Migdal, Weak States, Strong Societies 22-23 (1988).

  • This book is not available in our collection.
  • Search OskiCat to locate the book on campus.

Legal Journals

Search LawCat by title for law reviews and other legal journals. The catalog record will indicate if the law review or journal is also available on HeinOnline or another electronic database. The catalog does not indicate if something is available on LexisNexis or Westlaw. Not all journals are available in electronic form.

Sometimes you will need to verify a citation because the citation information is incomplete, incorrect or you need to decipher an abbreviation. Use one of the journal indexes to get accurate information:

  • Index to Legal Periodicals and Books
  • Legal Resource Index
  • Index to Foreign Legal Periodicals
  • Legal Journal Index
    • Westlaw

Searches for the abbreviation or the source in full-text journals on both Lexis and Westlaw can also be useful.

Example 1:

Aaron Xavier Fellmeth, Below-Market Interest in International Claims Against States, 13 J. Int’l Econ. L. 423, 431-34 (2010).

  • Using LawCat, search the title of the journal.
  • This article may also be availble full-text on Lexis and Westlaw.

Example 2:

Abby Cohen Smutny, Some Observations on the Principles relating to Compensation in the Investment Treaty Context, 22 ICSID—FOR. INV. L.J. 1, 9 (2007)..

  • This is the ICSID Review (the FILJ stands for "foreign investent law journal"). Search LawCat for the title and get the call number for this -- it's only available in print.

Example 3:

C.F. Amerasinghe, Issues of Compensation for the Taking of Alien Property in the Light of Recent Cases and Practice, 41 I.C.L.Q. 22, 64 (1992).

  • Use the Cardiff website to determine what I.C.L.Q. means -- International & Comparative Law Quarterly.
  • Once you have the title, look it up on LawCat. 
  • Also available on Lexis and Westlaw.

Non-Legal Journals

Melvyl is a good source for locating non-law journals. See also the E-Journal Titles A-Z list.

Example 1:

David Ben-Gurion and the British Constitutional Model, 3 Isr. Studies 193-214 (1998).

  • Search the title of the journal on the E-Journal Titles A-Z and get access to the electronic version of the journal. 

Example 2:

Explaining the Constitutionalization of the European Union, 13 J. Eur. Pub. Pol. 1148 (2006).

  • Search LawCat by the tile "European Public Policy Journal" and you will get links to several electronic databases for the journal.
  • You can also search for the title on the E-Journal Titles A-Z list.

Working Papers & Other Reports and Documents

Example 1:

María-Teresa Gil-Bazo, Refugee status, subsidiary protection, and the right to be granted asylum under EC law, New Issues in Refugee Research, Research Paper No. 136 (Nov. 2006).

  • Many research papers are available on SSRN. Go to this site and search for the name of the author or the title. You should include a link to SSRN in the citation, see Bluebook rule 17.4.
  • If the paper is not on SSRS, try searching the title of the paper or the paper series using Google.

Example 2:

J. McAdam, Humane Rights: The Refugee Convention as a Blueprint for Complementary Protection Status, paper presented at Moving On: Forced Migr. & Hum Rts. Conf., NSW Parl. House (Nov. 22, 2005).

  • This looks like something from a conference.  Try searching for it using Google. Note: searches work better if you take out the punctuation and use quotation marks around the title of the material.  Abbreviations don't always work well, so spell out the words.

Documents from NGOs

Most non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have websites where they provide access to their documentation and reports. If it is a recent document, start with the organization's website.

Step 6: Electronic Sources

Electronic sources are acceptable, but be sure to use the best electronic version possible. Transcripts and press conferences generally do not have print equivalents. Also, it's helpful to search google using the advanced search mechanism. By using this search option, you can limit your searches to a specific domain. See the bottom of the search screen where it says "Search within a site or domain."

Step 7: Newspaper Articles

Locate newspaper articles on LexisNexis, Westlaw or the web. If not available on one of these databases, try UCB Electronic Resources (look up by Type > News Databases).

  • Available on Lexis and Westlaw.
  • Also available through UCB E-Journals.

Many of the newspaper articles cited in the articles you are checking are from foreign language newspapers, so do not expect an English translation.

Step 8: Copying (Scanning & Downloading)

If the source cannot be checked out (journals, treaties, cases), copy what you need. It's good practice to copy the title page or jot down the name and date of the source on the copy.

Some Cite Checking Tips

Since The Bluebook is not always adequate for citing international and foreign legal materials, use the examples as models. Be sure to include enough information so that someone else can find the cited materials. And, be consistent throughout the entire document. For help with proper abbreviations and formats, see the tables at the back of The Bluebook .

Look at other examples from older issues of BJIL. If you cannot find any examples in BJIL, use the format from the top law reviews.

When citing to an electronic version of a document, be sure to follow The Bluebook, rule 18.

Ask Marci for assistance with citation format (

Don't spend hours trying to find something, come and ask (or send me an email)! The Reference Librarians can help too, so don't hesitate to check with them.

See also the Source Collection: Triage Guide and the Cite-Checking Information for information on borrowing books from other libraries, finding books, and other general tips.

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

Last edited by Marci Hoffman, 15 September 2011

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