International Law Sources

by Lyonette Louis-Jacques
Foreign and International Law Librarian and Lecturer in Law
D'Angelo Law Library, University of Chicago Law School

Presented on Thursday, March 7, 2002, for the Continuing Education Committee of the Chicago Association of Law Libraries and sponsored by the Chicago Library System

Standard International Legal Reference Tools

Basic Documents of International Economic Law (ASIL; online on WESTLAW and LEXIS)(see also Documents supplements for International Law casebooks)

Bieber's Dictionary of Legal Abbreviations (3d ed., 1988 - the green one)

(note also LAWLINKS's list of common Legal Abbreviations, TP-ALL, and Google)

The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation

Encyclopedia of Public International Law

Restatement of the Law, The Foreign Relations Law of the United States (American Law Institute; also online on LEXIS and WESTLAW)

Thomas H. Reynolds & Arturo A. Flores, Foreign Law: Current Sources of Codes and Legislation in Jurisdictions of the World (F.B. Rothman & Co.)(multi-volume looseleaf)

International Legal Materials (ILM, and its predecessor, the Supplement to the American Journal of International Law)(American Society of International Law)(online on LEXIS, WESTLAW, Hein Online)

Martindale-Hubbell International Law Digest (online on LEXIS)

Modern Legal Systems Cyclopedia

Parry and Grant Encyclopaedic Dictionary of International Law

World Almanac

World Factbook (CIA)

Europa World Year Book (include information on legal systems, including courts and addresses, for all countries, and information on international organizations; previous title was Europa Year Book)

BREAK: Civil Code (family and domestic relations, inheritance and succession, obligations (contracts and torts), property)

Government Agencies (U.S. Department of State, Department of Commerce, USDOJ, USITC, USTR, USPTO, etc. - .gov; links to non-U.S. governments at

IGO & NGO web pages (United Nations, European Union, World Trade Organization, World Intellectual Property Organization, ILO, OECD, OAS, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, etc - .org, .int, .ch); links to IGOs at

LEXIS (U.S. treaties, GATT/WTO panel decisions, ILM, full texts of statutes for Australia, Argentina, Canada, Central & Eastern Europe Legal Texts, China (PRC), France, Hungary, Mexico, Russia, UK; full texts of cases for Australia, Canada, Ireland, UK, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Mexico, Northern Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa Constitutional Law Reports, Scotland, Singapore, Brunei; European Court of Human Rights decisions (Council of Europe); European Union regulations, directives, decisions, cases; BBC; treatises)

WESTLAW (USTREATIES, GATT/WTO panel decisions (WTO-DEC), ILM, United Kingdom legal materials (Great Britain and Northern Ireland); Sweet & Maxwell publications, EU law; INT-ICJ; INT-ICTR; INT-ICTY; INT-IRAN; IACHR-OAS; NAFTA; IEL (international economic law documents); INTLENVL; Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Mexico, Russia)

Google (or your favorite other Internet search engine)

TP-ALL (full text journals and texts database on WESTLAW - includes Practising Law Institute Course Handbooks - available separately also in the PLI database)
(or full text searches in LEXIS' LAWREV library, ALLREV file)

BREAK: Private International Law: Hague Conventions, enforcement of judgments, contracts for the international sale of goods, international commercial arbitration, conflict of laws/choice-of-law, intercountry adoption, international child abduction, taking of evidence abroad, international judicial assistance, etc.

Guides to Researching Foreign and International Law

How to Find the Law (9th ed., 1989, Cohen, Berring, & Olson)

Public International Law in a Nutshell (2d ed., 1990 has a section on "International legal research sources" at pages 243-257)

Legal Research in a Nutshell (7th ed., 2000, Cohen & Olson)(includes chapters on researching foreign and international law)

ASIL Guide to Electronic Resources for International Law (electronic version) (print version) International/Foreign Law Resource Center

BREAK: Don't forget Germain's Transnational Law Research: A Guide for Attorneys and Accidental Tourist on the New Frontier: An Introductory Guide to Global Legal Research and other print legal research guides and bibliographies

Guide to Foreign and International Legal Databases (New York University)

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

Legal Research on International Law Issues Using the Internet (U of Chicago)

Foreign Law: Legal Research Resources on the Internet (U of Chicago)

Helpful People Resources

Foreign Law Librarians (Wiltrud Harms (UN & Human Rights specialist), Claire Germain (French lawyer and law librarian), Pedro Padilla Rosa (Latin American legal materials), Francisco Avalos (Mexican Law), Jonathan Pratter (ditto), Barbara Sloan (European Union), Mirela Roznovschi and Radu Popa (Eastern Europe), Bill McCloy (East Asia), etc.)

AALL Foreign, Comparative, and International Law SIS (and FCIL-SIS listserv)

People on electronic discussion groups such as EURO-LEX (send to

subscribe euro-lex Your Name
INT-LAW (send to the message:
subscribe int-law
LIS-LAW, ALLG-ANZ, CALL-L, etc.) and related law librarian organizations


Treaties in Force: A List of Treaties and Other International Agreements of the United States (TIF; U.S. Department of State, Office of the Legal Adviser; annual as of January...;2000 most recent edition)

Multilateral Treaties Deposited with the Secretary-General (annual as of December...; 2000, parts 1&2 most recent edition; lists of signatures, ratifications, accessions, etc., with full texts of reservations; online version is updated seemingly every day)

Multilateral Treaties : Index and Current Status (compiled and annotated within the University of Nottingham Treaty Centre by M.J. Bowman and D.J. Harris); not online

World Treaty Index

Multilateral Treaties Project (Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University)

United Nations Treaty Collection (index and full text of bilateral and multilateral treaties; digitized version of the United Nations Treaty Series (U.N.T.S.))

BREAK: Full text sources of treaties include the United States Treaty Series (UST), Statutes at Large (Stat.), United Nations Treaty Series (UNTS), International Legal Materials (ILM), Consolidated Treaty Series (CTS), etc. as well as The Australian Treaties Library, LEXIS, WESTLAW, JSTOR (AJIL Supp.), Hein Online (AJIL Supp. & ILM), Yale's Avalon Project: Documents on Law, History, and Diplomacy (Historical Treaties), and the documents supplements to International Law casebooks

Researching U. S. Treaties and Agreements (by Marci Hoffman, Georgetown University Law Center)

Researching Non-U. S. Treaties (by Stefanie Weigman, International Legal Studies Library at Harvard Law School)

ASIL Guide to Electronic Resources for International Law: Treaties (by Jill McC. Watson)

BREAK: Indexes to journal articles on foreign, comparative, and international law include LegalTrac (aka Legal Resource Index and Current Law Index), Legal Journals Index (on WESTLAW as LJI), and Index to Foreign Legal Periodicals; full texts of articles via WESTLAW (TP-ALL, JLR), LEXIS (LAWREV), Hein Online, ProQuest, etc.

Treaties and Other International Agreements: The Role of the United States Senate (prepared by the Congressional Research Service, January 2001; S. Prt. 106-71) (text version) (PDF format)

European Union, the United Nations, and the Americas

Eur-Lex (European Union legal database)


United Nations Documents

See also Yearbook of the United Nations and United Nations Documentation Research Guide: International Law

SICE: Foreign Trade Information System (OAS)

National Law Center for Inter-American Free Trade

BREAK: Foreign constitutions can be found in English translation in Constitutions of the Countries of the World, Constitutions of Dependencies and Territories, Constitutions That Made History, and in the Constitution Finder

Sources of Foreign Law in English Translation

Reynolds & Flores' Foreign Law (green looseleaf set)

Matthew-Bender's Business Transactions in Germany, Doing Business in Japan

Sweet & Maxwell's Commercial Laws of Europe, European Commercial Cases

Tax Management Portfolios - Business Operations in...

Finding Foreign Law Online When Going Global

Library Catalogs (especially Union catalogs)

Local Libraries:

Libraries Strong for Foreign and International Law:

Strong FCIL Collections: Chicago and Beyond


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  15. Where can I find UN Security Council resolution 1368 condemning the September 11 attacks?
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  25. PowerPoint Presentation Questions (Canadian Association of Law Libraries presentation)