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Introduction to International Legal Research. Comparative and International Law (Prof. Eddy) April 2011 Mary Whisner, Reference Librarian. Overview. Basic introduction Definitions, sources of law Explore some websites and other sources Want to learn more?

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Introduction to international legal research

Introduction to International Legal Research

Comparative and International Law (Prof. Eddy)

April 2011

Mary Whisner, Reference Librarian


  • Basic introduction

    • Definitions, sources of law

    • Explore some websites and other sources

  • Want to learn more?

    • E579 International and Foreign Law Research


  • International Law

  • Foreign Law

  • Comparative Law

Thoughts on research strategy
Thoughts on Research Strategy

  • Preliminary analysis

  • Secondary sources

  • Primary materials

  • Nonlegal materials

  • Challenges

Research guides
Research Guides

  • Gallagher:

    • ASIL Guide to Electronic Resources in International Law,

    • Globalex (NYU),

International law
International Law

  • Examples

  • Public international law

  • Private international law

Sources of international law
Sources of International Law

  • International conventions

  • International custom, as evidence of a general practice accepted as law

  • General principles of law recognized by civilized nations

  • Judicial decisions and teachings of the most highly qualified publicists of the various nations

Sources of international law1
Sources of International Law

UN Charter

Statute of the International Court of Justice (annex to UN Charter)

  • Art. 38 lists sources of law

  • ICJ may also decide ex aequo et bono

  • (“according to what is equitable and good”)


  • Treaties, conventions, pacts, international agreements

  • Constitutive documents of international governmental organizations

United nations
United Nations

  • UN Charter

  • Structure and Organization (note links on left)

    • Organizational chart

  • Exercise:

    • Find the provisions of the UN Charter that govern military interventions

    • Find the latest two Security Council Resolutions on Libya

Other igos
Other IGOs

  • NATO

    • North Atlantic Treaty

    • NATO and Libya

    • Special Focus – NATO and Libya

  • African Union

  • League of Arab States (Arab League)

    • in Arabic

    • Pact of the League of Arab States (Yale)

More on igos
More on IGOs

  • Guide

  • List (from Northwestern)

Finding treaties
Finding Treaties

  • Treaties, conventions, pacts, international agreements

  • Research clues

  • Gallagher guide

  • Frequently-Cited Treaties and Other International Instruments (U Minn)

Un treaties
UN Treaties

  • U Minn. Frequently Cited Treaties & Other International Instruments

  • Multilateral Treaties Deposited with the Secretary General

  • EXERCISE: Find the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Is Libya a participant? If so, any reservations? How about the US?

Us treaties
US Treaties

  • United States Treaties in Force

  • HeinOnlineTreaties and Agreements Library

Judicial decisions
Judicial Decisions

  • Gallagher guide

Armed intervention
Armed Intervention

  • Books: library catalog

  • Articles: LegalTrac, HeinOnline

  • Restatement of Foreign Relations

    • LexisNexis

    • Westlaw

News and commentary
News and Commentary

  • LexisNexis, Westlaw

  • Real Clear World

  • Today’s Front Pages (Newseum)

  • UW Libraries Electronic Newspapers and News

    • e.g., search Middle East sources in Access World News for libya and security council resolution 1973

  • International law blogs

Wrap up
Wrap Up

  • Sources of international law: treaties, custom, general principles, cases, teachings

  • IGOs – established by treaties; websites include pubs, press releases, official docs

  • Treaties

  • Secondary sources: books, scholarly articles, news. Remember to get non-US perspectives.

Gallagher Law Library

University of Washington School of Law

Box 353025

Seattle WA 98195-3025

  • We are happy to have our guides used by other libraries, librarians, and legal researchers.

  • Before copying or adapting one of our guides, please contact Cheryl Nyberg (cnyberg at to obtain permission. Then give appropriate attribution, such as: "Adapted from a guide by Mary Whisner at the Gallagher Law Library website."