UNRIC Backgrounders

The United Nations Regional Information Centre for Western Europe Backgrounders are a great resource for locating UN documents and sites covering international law topics and selected countries
These guides provide links to treaties, UN resolutions, UN press releases, UN reports and UN Web sites. Many thanks to the UNRIC Library staff for posting these useful guides online.

UNRIC Library Backgrounders


Backgrounders are available for the following countries:
Democratic People’s Republic of Korea
South Sudan
Sri Lanka

Backgrounders are available for the following topics:
Climate Change
Educational Resources
Food Waste
Global Food Crisis
Human Rights
Human Rights Council
Middle East
Millennium Development Goals
Nuclear Disarmament
Nuclear Non-Proliferation
Participation of the European Union in the work of the United Nations
Peacebuilding Commission
Protection of civilians in armed conflict
Responsibility to Protect (R2P)
Sustainable Development

Indian Legal Research Sites

A roundup of free Indian legal research resources:

Indian Kanoon


Full-text access to Supreme Court and state court case law.

Legal Information Institute of India


part of wonderful WorldLII consortium and the Free Access to Law Movement.

India Legal Information Institute


LegalSutra – Law Students’ Knowledge Base


This site provides student generated class outlines and commentaries on specific legal issues.



Indian legal search engine.

AdvocateKhoj Law Library


links to legislation, case law, legal conferences, information about Indian law schools, and attorney directories.

hat tip to Rob Richards and Anoop Vincent.

Article: Enabling Free On-line Access to UK Law Reports: The Copyright Problem

Enabling Free On-line Access to UK Law Reports: The Copyright Problem

Philip Leith and Cynthia Fellows

18 International Journal of Law & Information Technology   72 (Spring 2010)


The history of publishing legal decisions (law reporting) in the UK has been that of a privatised system since its inception, and that history has encompassed several hundred years. The privatised nature of this has meant that the product (the law report) has been, except in limited cases, viewed as the property of the publisher, rather than the property of the court or public. BAILII is an open access legal database that came about in part because of the copyrighted, privatised nature of this legal information.

In this paper, we will outline the problem of access to pre-2000 judgments in the UK and consider whether there are legal or other remedies which might enable BAILII to both develop a richer historic database and also to work in harmony, rather than in competition, with legal publishers. We argue that public access to case law is an essential requirement in a democratic common law system, and that BAILII should be seen as a potential step towards a National Law Library.

Researching Chilean Law

Julienne Grant, FCIL librarian at Loyola University Chicago, has created a wonderful research guide to Chilean Law, in Libguide format. The guide concentrates on English language sources, but also includes many important Spanish language resources. The guide includes books, journals, databases, Web links, and translation resources.

Many thanks to Julienne for building this excellent useful tool.

Researching Chilean Law


Text-to-Speech Translation

Google Translate and Bable Fish provide free machine translation of text from various languages. The Text-to-Speech Web site now allows you to hear how the text should be pronounced. Over two dozen languages are available. The Spanish options include Chilean, Mexican, Castilian and Argentine accents.   English options are American, Indian, Irish, Australian, Scottish, and South African. These are machine translations so the voices are a bit robotic.

Text-to-Speech Translation

Foreign Law Portal – InformáticaJurídica.com

InformáticaJurídica.com is a foreign law portal focusing mainly on Internet law, privacy, and intellectual property issues. It provides citations to statutes from hundreds of countries. It also posts selected full-text statutes and case law in the vernacular, principally from Latin American and European countries. The site also contains a bibliography of Spanish and English language secondary literature, a list of past and future conferences and meetings, and links (click on directorio).  Site navigation is entirely in Spanish.



ILO Database: Use of International Law by Domestic Courts

Free online resource from the International Labour Organization:

Use of International Law by Domestic Courts


From the Web site’s description:

Use of International Law by Domestic Courts contains a compendium of court decisions in which domestic courts have relied on elements of international law to resolve the cases brought before them]. The compendium is composed mainly of cases falling within the province of labour law but also comprises decisions concerning basic human rights more generally. The decisions are presented in the form of summaries underlining how international law was used in each specific case. At the end of each summary, the full text of the decision is available in the original language.

Each decision is classified according to the following four sets of criteria:

country of origin of the decision

main subject on which international law was referred to

role of international law

type of international instruments used in the decision

Whenever the legal system of the countries included in the compendium stipulates how international law is to be incorporated into national law or the authority to be attributed to it, the decisions of the country in question are preceded by an insert citing the relevant provisions.

Decisions can be accessed through three indexes: by country, by subject and according to the role of international law.

And finally, the compendium is complemented by a library that contains: the texts of ILO Conventions and Recommendations, as well as the texts of other international instruments referred to in the compendium; the work and documents of the international supervisory bodies; and a selection of publications.

Online Publication:Human Rights and Climate Change

This month, the Commonwealth Secretariat published a short discussion paper on climate change and human rights. It is available online for free, although registration is required.

Human Rights and Climate Change: An Approach that Puts People in the Forefront of the Debate. July 2009


From the introduction:

A human rights model shifts the paradigm from

one that identifies ‘victims’ (who are most often

perceived as passive) to one acknowledging affected

groups as active stakeholders and critical voices.

Indeed, a rights-based approach frames the terms of

engagement and lays the basis for claims to be made

by ensuring affected populations are given the space

to speak, be heard, take action and influence


Perilous state of free resources: HuriDocs & HuriSearch

The extremely useful HuriSearch human rights search engine has placed the following annoucement on their home page:

As of 1 July, the costs of providing the present HuriSearch on the FAST-Microsoft platform increased with about 500%. Unfortunately, HURIDOCS cannot cover these costs. We are looking for alternative ways to set up a human rights search engine which will also be accessible through this page. 

Hurisearch is maintained by the Human Rights Information and Documentation System (HURIDOCS).

HuriSearch allows one to search for human rights publications and Web sites by language, country and organization. As of this morning (July 15th) the site was still working. It would be a shame to lose this resource since subject searching of international law is always troublesome. 



PixeLegis: University of Seville Digital Legal Books Project

The University of Seville Library has an ongoing project to digitize its law related titles. The PixeLegis project is posting out of  copyright texts online., The majority of texts are from the 19thCentury. The focus of the collection is Spanish law and civil law in general. Books are available in Spanish, Latin, French, German and English.  A nice feature of the site is the breakdown of texts by area of law. This should prove useful to scholars interested in historical legal developments in Spain or Latin America. Un millón de gracias a nuestros colegas en la Universidad de Sevilla. 

PixeLegis  http://bib.us.es/derecho/recursos/pixelegis/index-ides-idweb.html