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Foreign and International Law Research Basics: International Law and International Organizations

A basic introduction for those interested in researching international law or the national law of non-US jurisdictions.

Working with International Law and International Organizations

International law exists at the international, regional, and national levels, in both political forums and dispute resolution bodies. If you are new to international law, you should begin by understanding the concepts and the players before delving into your particular project area. Some great introductory resources are:

Useful General Databases for International Law

Westlaw and Lexis may be useful for a given area of international law research, so it is worth looking in the International Law sections to see what is available in each database. However, they are not always the most user-friendly tool for the job (e.g. treaty research in these databases can be confusing, and PDF copies from official sources are rarely available), so consult a good research guide or a librarian to identify the best tool for your particular search.

International and Regional Organizations

While the United Nations springs most immediately to mind when discussing international legal regimes, in fact a variety of international and regional organizations may have jurisdiction over, or at least influence, any given dispute, territory or subject matter.

A few of the most frequently-researched are linked and described below. In order to determine which international law institutions may touch upon your area of interest, it is best to start with a good secondary source describing the legal frameworks.