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Researching International Law   Tags: international law, public international law, treaties  

Last Updated: Oct 5, 2017 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

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There are two types of international Law:  private and public.  Private international law is concerned primarily with conflicts of law.  Public international deals with the law of nations and international agreements.  This guide provides an introduction to the basic research resources for public international law.  It contains links to the institutions, texts and research tools that will enable the user to find and research public international law.


Getting Started

With any research project, unless you are knowledgeable about the topic, it is best to start with basic, introductory sources and the to consult more focused primary resources.

Secondary sources such as articles and books can provide an overview of a topic and help the user to think of additional search terms.  They also cite primary authorities such as treaties, conventions and decisions of international courts and tribunals.  Primary sources cited in secondary sources can then be used as a jumping-off point to find other primary materials.

Treatises, such as Oppenheim's International Law [JX3264.I6 1992], Dunoff - International Law:  Norms, Actors and Process [KZ3410.D86 2010], and Brownlie - Principles of Public International Law [KZ3225.B76 A37 2008] are good starting points for research.  These titles provide an overview of the subject and list valuable information in the footnotes. 

Journal articles are another great secondary source.  They are more narrowly focused than books and they are more current due to the fact that the time-frame is much shorter for publication.  Use databases such as HeinOnline, JStor, and Academic Search Complete to begin a search for information.


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