Note & disclaimer: In order to conduct proper research, it is vital that students not only familiarize themselves with secondary sources (legal doctrine), but also directly consult relevant primary resources, whether case-law, relevant treaty instruments or practice of international or regional organizations. The list of sources on this page is intended to serve as initial guidance for students conducting research in the broader international law domain. The overview is not intended to be exhaustive. A number of collections included in the list can be accessed only within Ghent University and/or only with a proper subscription. This page is reviewed on a periodic basis, also to ensure that links remain up-to-date. Suggestions for additions to the overview can at all times be sent to the GRILI contact persons.
a. Highlights – key sources
United Nations Treaty Series (UNTS):
- Official treaty database of the United Nations (cf. Art. 102 UN Charter). Largest collection of treaties (in all international law domains; both bilateral and multilateral). Also offers up-to-date information on participation in treaties (ratifications etc.), lists of reservations, objections and declarations, etc.
- For the texts of treaties that have not yet been published in the UNTS, see 'Texts of Recently Depostied Multilateral Treaties'.
International Law Commission (ILC):
Texts, instruments and final reports of the International Law Commission.
UN Official Documents System (ODS):
- covers all types of official United Nations documentation (e.g., resolutions of the General Assembly or Security Council, letters to the UNSC, verbatim records of UNGA and UNSC meetings,…).
- Each type of documentation has a specific UN document code.
United Nations Bibliographic Information System (UNBISnet):
- In addition to a bibliographic database containing records for all United Nations documents, selected materials from the specialized agencies, and books and journals held by the library, users may search in special databases for voting records and speech records.
- Currently only the UNBIS thesaurus is available.
- Contains the full texts of important treaties and agreements, judicial and arbitral decisions, national legislation, international organizations resolutions, and other documents.
- Published every month.
- Available at Ghent University through Hein Online.
American Society of International Law Electronic Research Guide (ERG) and electronic information system for international law (EISIL)
- ERG: Systematically updated and continuously expanded, the ERG is designed to be used by students, teachers, practitioners, and researchers as a self-guided tour of relevant, quality, up-to-date online resources covering important areas of international law. The ERG also serves as a ready-made teaching tool at graduate and undergraduate levels.
- EISIL: free online database that organizes and provides links to, and useful information on, web resources covering the full spectrum of international law (Database curently unavailable until version 2.0 is finalised).
International Law Reports (ILR):
- The International Law Reports is the only publication in the world wholly devoted to the regular and systematic reporting in English of decisions of international courts and arbitrators as well as judgments of national courts. Since the Reports began in 1922, under the title of the Annual Digest of Public International Law, over 10,000 cases have been reported in full or digest form.
- Available in print at Ghent University (RBIB)
- Over 5.500 case reports on public international law cases of international courts, domestic courts and ad hoc tribunals. Case reports contain the full text of each decision, headnote, as well as analytical commentary and English translations of a number of key non-English decisions.
International Crimes Database (ICD):
- Comprehensive database on international crimes adjudicated by national, as well as international and internationalized courts. In addition to case law on international crimes, the website incorporates general background information about international crimes, scholarly as well as news articles, working papers (ICD Briefs) and relevant links to other useful databases/websites on this topic
ECOLEX - 'the gateway to environmental law'
- Database operated jointly by FAO, IUCN and UNEP providing the most comprehensive, global source of information on environmental law. Contains treaties, legislation, court decisions and references to literature.
b. Treaties, decision-making practice international and regional organizations and related
Treaties per field:
- Human rights treaties:
Law of armed conflict & disarmament:
- Treaty database of the International Committee of the Red Cross - Treaties and documents in the realm of the law of armed conflict (by date, topic, State)
- Yale Law School Avalon Project - Documents in Law, History and Diplomacy
- University Of Minnesota human rights library (law of armed conflict)
- Disarmament Treaties Database - Database from the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs
- IAEA-related Treaties, Conventions and Agreements - International Atomic Energy Agency related treaties
- United States Institute of Peace - Database of peace agreements
- Crime, Drugs, counter-terrorism
International environmental agreements:
- InforMEA - United Nations Information Portal on Multilateral Environmental Agreements with over 50 global and regional environmental related treaties, including lists of parties, geographical coverage, etc.
- IEA database project - International Environmental Agreements Database Project
- UNEP - United Nations Environment Programme
- Law of the Sea/maritime affairs:
Air & Space law:
- International Civil Aviation Organization Treaty Collection - Core civil aviation treaties
- United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs - Space law treaties and principles
International trade law:
- WTO Agreements
- WTO Regional Trade Agreements Database
- WTO Database on Preferential Trade Arrangements
- World Bank, Global Preferential Trade Agreements Database
- UNCITRAL Texts - United Nations Commission on International Trade Law
- International investment law:
- International Labour Law
- Intellectual property
- Tax treaties:
United Nations (UN):
UN General Assembly:
- UNGA resolutions (as of 1945 – per session)
UN Security Council:
- UNSC documents - Resolutions/presidential statements/press statements, reports of the Secretary-General, etc.
- Repertoire of the practice of the Security Council - Agenda Items, Procedural Issues, Constitutional Issues, Subsidiary Organs, etc.
- United Nations Yearbooks - Overview of the activities of the UN per year
- United Nations Juridical Yearbook - Documentary materials of a legal character concerning the United Nations and related intergovernmental organizations
- Periodical indexes:
- UN human rights documents:
Regional organizations (and related): treaties and decision-making practice (selection):
- Council of Europe (CoE):
- European Union (EU):
- Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE):
- Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD):
- Organization of American States (OAS):
- African Union (AU):
- Economic Community of West-African States (ECOWAS)
- Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)
- League of Nations Treaty Series: Official Treaty database of the League of Nations
- Oxford Historical Treaties
- Institut für Europäische Geschichte – Europäische Friedensverträge der Vormoderne online
- Avalon Project - Documents in Law, History and Diplomacy
National treaty publications:
- France - Base des traités
- Netherlands - Tractatenblad
- United Kingdom - UK Treaties Online
- United States - Office of Treaty affairs
International courts and tribunals, and related:
- International Court of Justice
- Permanent Court of International Justice (predecessor ICJ) - Judgments, Advisory Opinions, pleadings, etc
International Criminal Law:
- International Criminal Court (ICC)
- International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY)
- International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) - Available under the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals
- Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL)
- Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL)
- Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC)
- International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea
- WTO dispute settlement
- Reports of International Arbitral Awards (RIAA) - Receuil des sentences arbitrales
- Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) - Cases settled under the auspices of the Permanent Court of Arbitration
- International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) - cases settled under ICSID auspices
- Iran-United States Claims Tribunal (IUSCT)
- International Administrative Tribunals:
Regional Courts and Tribunals:
- HUDOC - European Court of Human Rights:
- Inter-American Court of Human Rights
- African Court on Human and People’s Rights
- Curia - Court of Justice and General Court of the EU
- EFTA Court
- East African Court of Justice
- ECOWAS Community Court of Justice
- Caribbean Court of Justice
- Benelux Gerechtshof
- Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court
- COMESA Court of Justice
- Court of Justice of the Andean Community
- SADC Tribunal
d. Custom: state practice and opinio juris
Mapping relevant state practice and opinio juris to ascertain the existence and/or scope of a rule of customary international law can be a complex undertaking.
Many ‘national’ international law journals/yearbooks publish overviews of state practice. Examples include the American Journal of International Law, the revue belge de droit international, the German Yearbook of International Law and many others. See the general international law journals listed under the heading ‘secondary sources’.
In addition, below are a list of useful sources:
- Database of relevant practice in the field of the law of armed conflict brought together by the International Committee of the Red Cross. Served as the basis for the ICRC Customary Law Study, identifying 161 rules of customary international law. Updated on a regular basis.
Digest of State Practice – Journal on the Use of Force and International Law
- Unofficial compilation of state practice and opinio juris in the realm of the law on the use of force (New digests appear frequently).
- Official publication of the US State Department, providing a period overview of US practice in public and private international law.
- Scholarly initiative, compiling relevant statements by representatives of the Italian government on issues of international law.