Introduction to International Legal Research

Introduction to
International Law Research
Global Perspectives on the Law
Law A508
May 2012
• Basic introduction
– Definitions, sources of law
– Explore websites & other materials
• Out of class research exercise will be
distributed later this week
• To learn more: E579 International and Foreign
Law Research
What is international law?
Public Int’l Law:
• Governs interactions
between states
(nations), between
states and international
bodies (IGOs), and
between international
bodies themselves
• Ex.: human rights,
environmental law
Private Int’l Law:
• Governs the choice of
law to apply when there
are conflicts in the
domestic/national law
of different countries
that relate to private
• Ex. contracts, marriage
& divorce, child
Sources of International Law
What are the sources of international law?
• The sources are set forth in Article 38 of the
Statute of the International Court of Justice
(annex to UN Charter)
• Note: ICJ also may decide “according to what
is equitable and good” (ex aequo et bono).
See: How the Court Works
Sources of International Law, cont’d.
• International conventions
– Treaties, pacts, protocols, agreements, accords
– Bilateral (2 parties)
– Multilateral (3 or more parties)
• International custom, as evidence of general
practice accepted as law
• General principles of law
• Judicial decisions, and the teachings of the most
highly qualified publicists of the various nations
Research Guides
• Gallagher:
• ASIL Guide to Electronic Resources in International
• GlobaLex (NYU):
• International Law Tutorial (Duke Law & Berkeley
United Nations
• United Nations,
– Charter
– UN Structure and Organization (links on left)
– Organizational chart
– Library
• GlobaLex research guide: Researching the
United Nations
Current topic: UN Agrees to Send More Cease-Fire
Observers to Syria (N.Y. Times, April 21, 2012)
• Find the Security Council Resolution on Syria
discussed in the N.Y. Times article
More on IGOs
• African Union, NATO
• Gallagher Law Library guide on
Intergovernmental Organizations
• Yearbook on International Organizations,
Reference Office JZ4836 .Y43.
• List (from Northwestern)
• ASIL guide on International Organizations
Finding Treaties
• Text, parties, status?
• Gallagher guide, Treaties & Other
International Agreements
– Links to Research Guides
– Status & Signatories
• FLARE Index
– Acronyms & Abbreviations
UN Treaties
Ex. Locate the Paris Convention (industrial
• U Minn. Frequently Cited Treaties & Other
International Instruments
• United Nations Treaty Collection, Multilateral
Treaties Deposited with the Secretary General
(“MTDSG”) and United Nations Treaty Series
U.S. Treaties
• U.S. State Dept. Treaty Affairs
– Treaties in Force and Treaty Actions
• HeinOnline Treaties and Agreements Library
– From the Gallagher Law Library home page,
locate “HeinOnline” under “Selected
Judicial Decisions
• Gallagher guide: International Cases
– Ex. International Court of Justice
• The Project on International Courts &
Tribunals: A Synoptic Chart
• ASIL Electronic Research Guide on
International Criminal Law
Research Hypo: Maritime Piracy
NATO video
Research Strategy Review
• Preliminary analysis (what do I already know?)
• Secondary sources (books, articles, non-legal
materials – news, etc.)
• Primary materials (e.g. treaty)
• Update & refine
Secondary Source Research
• Research Guide: NATO Maritime Security
• Books: library catalog
• Articles: LegalTrac (navigate from Law Library home
• Scholarly opinion: Restatement of Foreign Relations,
Third: Westlaw [REST-FOREL]
• Commentary / Reports: ASIL > Issues >International
• U.S. government web sites & publications State Dept.
• Intergovernmental organizations UN, the UN’s IMO
News and Commentary
LexisNexis, Westlaw
Real Clear World
Today’s Front Pages (Newseum)
UW Libraries Electronic Newspapers and News
International law blogs
• Start at the United Nations Treaty Collection, and navigate to the UNTS
database, to locate the United Nations Convention
on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS)
– Is the U.S. listed as a participant to this
• Use the FLARE Index to search for UNCLOS, and
locate a full-text version of this treaty. In which
Article is “piracy” defined?
• Search LegalTrac and locate one article citation that
discusses the U.S. & the Law of the Sea Convention
• Sources of international law: treaties, custom,
general principles, cases, teachings
• Treaties: can find text in different places
• IGOs: established by treaties; websites include
pubs, press releases, official docs
• Secondary sources: books, scholarly articles,
news. Remember to get non-US perspectives
Need help?
Contact the Reference Office

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