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International Courts and Dispute Resolution Bodies
A variety of tribunals exist to resolve disputes and interpret questions of international law. (Note that national courts also do this, sometimes concurrently with regional or international proceedings.) Some of the most important tribunals are described here, but surveying the secondary sources on your area of interest can help you identify which tribunals to investigate further.
While not comprehensive, this list offers a cross-section of tribunals covering everything from disputes between states to prosecutions for genocide to arbitration between investors and states. For a more complete list of tribunals engaged specifically in human rights, see Biddle's Human Rights research guide.
African Court on Human and People's Rights
Established in 2004, the African Court on Human and People's Rights has jurisdiction over all cases and disputes submitted to it concerning the interpretation and application of the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights, the Protocol and any other relevant human rights instrument ratified by the participating States. Information on cases reviewed by the court is available under the "Cases" and "News" tabs, while decisions are located within the "Judgments and Orders" tab.
European Court of Human Rights
Not to be confused with the European Union's Court of Justice, the European Court of Human Rights was established in 1959 by the European Convention of Human Rights. The ECHR rules on individual or state applications alleging violations of the civil and political rights set out in the European Convention on Human Rights. The HUDOC database provides access to the ECHR's judgments, advisory opinions and legal summaries, and can be found under the "Case-Law" tab. The full text of the Convention and the rules of the court are available under the "Basic Texts" tab.
European Court of Justice
The Court of Justice of the European Union interprets European Union law to make sure it is applied in the same way in all EU countries, and settles legal disputes between national governments and EU institutions.
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights
The IACHR site offers access to the basic documents of the inter-American system of human rights as well as decisions and reports on human rights violations within the members of the Organization of American States.
Inter-American Court of Human Rights
Provides access to the Court's decisions, advisory opinions, provisional measures and compliance reviews. An English-language portal is available, but using some content on this site may require Spanish language skills.
International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID)
ICSID is the world’s leading institution devoted to international investment dispute settlement. It has extensive experience in this field, having administered the majority of all international investment cases. States have agreed on ICSID as a forum for investor-State dispute settlement in most international investment treaties and in numerous investment laws and contracts
International Court of Justice
As the judicial organ of the United Nations, the ICJ settles interstate disputes and also produces advisory opinions on the matters subject to its jurisdiction, which may impact human rights. Judgments, advisory opinions and orders can be found under the "Cases" tab.
International Criminal Court
The International Criminal Court (ICC), governed by the Rome Statute, is the first permanent, treaty based, international criminal court established to help end impunity for the perpetrators of the most serious crimes of concern to the international community. Case documents, organized by country, can be found under the "Situations and Cases" tab in the left-side navigation bar.
Permanent Court of Arbitration
The PCA was the first permanent intergovernmental organization to provide a forum for the resolution of international disputes through arbitration and other peaceful means. The PCA is not a court in the traditional sense, but a permanent framework for arbitral tribunals constituted to resolve specific disputes.
Databases for International Tribunal Decisions
Most tribunals offer access to their recent decisions on their websites. However, if you're looking broadly for decisions on a given subject rather than the documents for a specific case, you may find it easier to conduct your research in one of the databases suggested here, which cover multiple tribunals and allow for more robust searching.
Note that Lexis and Westlaw do include decisions of some, but not all, major tribunals, such as the ICJ.
Investor-State Law Guide
Comprehensive research tool for investment treaty law. Includes a subject navigator, article citator, jurisprudence citator, and a full-text search. Due to compatibility issues, we recommend using a browser other than Google Chrome.
This database contains the text of major international agreements, rules, and information about the key arbitration organizations. It includes national laws, national rules, case law of awards, and even some submissions or interim orders under various arbitral regimes.
Oxford Reports on International Courts of General Jurisdiction
Covers all contentious and advisory cases from the International Court of Justice, Permanent Court of International Justice, International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, and the Permanent Court of Arbitration.
Oxford Reports on International Criminal Law
Includes decisions from several international criminal courts and tribunals, with a focus on the International Criminal Court, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, and the Special Court for Sierra Leone. It also includes decisions from post-WWII military tribunals, including the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg.
Oxford Reports on International Human Rights Law
Covers decisions on human rights from global and regional courts, including selective coverage of the European Commission and Court, selected U.N. committees, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights, and cases decided under the African Charter on Human and People's Rights, in both Court and Commission.
Oxford Reports on International Law in Domestic Courts
Includes international law as applied in the domestic courts of approximately 70 jurisdictions worldwide. The collection includes relevant cases from 2000 to the present for each jurisdiction; coverage of older cases is incomplete but expanding.
The REFWORLD Database maintains a body of human rights resolutions and resources classified by topic, agency, or document type, from a number of human rights courts and tribunals.
UN OHCHR Jurisprudence Database
This database provides easy access to jurisprudence emanating from the United Nations Treaty Bodies which receive and consider complaints from individuals: the Human Rights Committee (CCPR), the Committee against Torture (CAT), the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), the Committee on Enforced Disappearances (CED), the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR), and the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC).