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

United Nations Databases and Web Sites for Legal Research and Education

United Nations Databases and Web Sites for Legal Research and Education

Steven Robert Miller   (Indian Univ. Law Library)

Res Gestae, The Journal of the Indiana State Bar Association

Vol.54 # 3 , pp.12-20 (October 2010)

Nice article providing an introduction to major UN databases, such as UNTS, UN-I-QUE, and the UN AudioVisual Library of International Law,  ASIL’s ILEX database of U.S. cases, and IALS’s FLARE index of Treaties.  All web sites are free.

Hat tip to Paul


UN Pulse reports that the World Intellectual Property Organization has formally released WIPO  Lex, a portal of IP legislation and treaties searchable by country and subject.


From the WIPO description:

“WIPO Lex is a one-stop search facility for national laws and treaties on intellectual property (IP) of WIPO, WTO and UN Members. It also features related information which elaborates, analyzes and interprets these laws and treaties. It provides streamlined access to reference material of key importance for optimal information on the global IP System.”

Argentine Digital Library of Treaties

Argentina’s Ministry of Foreign Relations has produced a Digital Library of Argentina Treaties from 1811. The treaties are available in PDF format. The database includes historical documents, bilateral and multilateral treaties, and inter-institutional agreements.  They can be searched by title, citation, date, subject, country, and signatory. Currently, it is not possible to search by keyword across all agreements.  This treaty database will be useful to historians and legal researchers. The search interface is exclusively in Spanish.

Argentine Digital Library of Treaties (Biblioteca Digital de Tratados)


From the press release:

In honor of the bicentenary of Argentina’s independence, the Foreign Ministry has created a website with some 10,000 historical documents that can be copied, downloaded, printed or sent via e-mail.
Cabinet Chief of the Chancellery of Argentina, Alberto D’Alotto, officially launched the new portal that provides copies of international treaties and national historical documents that can be downloaded by citizens who require it.

The Digital Library of Treaties took about five years of work. It includes a total of 10,000 documents, including bilateral, multilateral, and historical documents (international and national). 

Many of the documents are scanned and can be viewed in their original form with signatures, for example, by Domingo Faustino Sarmiento, Juan Bautista Alberdi, Tomás Guido, Rufino de Elizalde, Carlos Tejedor, Bernardo de Irigoyen and Roque Saenz Peña.

International Fisheries Sites from Ocean Law Publishing

Ocean Law Publishing maintains online research resources for international fisheries law. Of particular interest is “Fisheries Treaty Database” available at the  Internet Guide to to International Fisheries Law.

Free Online Resources from Ocean Law Publishing


International Fisheries Law and Policy Portal www.intfish.netInternet Guide to International Fisheries Law www.intfish.net/igifl

IFLPP Research Centre  www.intfish.net/research

International Fisheries Law and Policy Updater www.intfish.net/updater



WTO’s new Regional Trade Agreements Information System

The World Trade Organization has released a new database of bilateral and regional trade agreements. The site provides full-text for most of the agreements , as well as the legal authority for the agreements under the GATT articles.  The database is researchable by country, date or topic. Many thanks to the WTO for offering this useful treaty research tool. 

WTO Regional Trade Agreements Information System (RTA-IS)


Online draft of Promoting Women’s Human Rights: A Resources Guide for Litigating International Law in Domestic Courts

Global Rights, a human rights NGO, has posted a draft version of their resource guide – “Promoting Women’s Human Rights: A Resources Guide for Litigating International Law in Domestic Courts.”  This would be useful for international human rights courses and clinics.

From the book’s introduction:

Promoting Women’s Rights: A Resource Guide for Litigating

International Law in Domestic Courts was designed as a practical

tool to help lawyers and other legal advocates use international

law to advance the promotion and protection of women’s human

rights in their daily lives. This guide considers how lawyers can

integrate international human rights standards into domestic

litigation and legal policy advocacy involving women’s rights; seeks

to encourage lawyers to undertake such advocacy; and provides

practical strategies on how lawyers might go about doing this.

Promoting Women’s Human Rights: A Resources Guide for Litigating International Law in Domestic Courts


U.S. treaty research in the Congressional Record

Researchers investigating U.S. treaty questions often need to determine if an international agreement is self-executing or not.  For treaties submitted to the Senate for advice and consent to ratification, you can use the declarations of advice and consent that appear in the “Congressional Record.” At the end of the declaration a note will appear if the treaty is self-executing. Hat tip to the Opinio Juris blog. 

Here is an example from the September 23, 2008 Congressional Record. page S9330. http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/F?r110:37:./temp/~r110bzXCJP:e11421:

The Senate advises and consents to the ratification of the Protocol to the Treaty between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the Republic of Hungary on Extradition signed December 1, 1994, as contemplated by Article 3 (2) of the Agreement on Extradition between the United States of America and the European Union, signed June 25, 2003, signed at Budapest on November 15, 2005 (Treaty Doc. 109-14), subject to the declaration of section 2.

   Section 2. Declaration.

   The advice and consent of the Senate under section 1 is subject to the following declaration:

   This Treaty is self-executing.

New United Nations Treaty Database

The United Nations released today the new United Nations Treaty Collection Database, including the full-text of agreements in the UN Treaty Series.  For those that miss the old interface, it does include a link to the legacy site.  It does include a new search interface. Many thanks to the folks at the UN Treaty Section of the Office of Legal Affiars for their work on the new database.

New United Nations Treaty Collection http://treaties.un.org/

Old legacy site: http://untreaty.un.org/

Tools of the Trade, Part V

This week’s tool has international flair.  The International Legal Research Tutorial is the product of a collaboration between Marci Hoffman (University of California, Berkeley) and Katherine Topulos (Duke University) and benefits greatly from the knowledge and experience of these two Foreign & International Law librarians. 

The tutorial takes users through a brief introduction to Interational Law and then delves into meatier sections on Treaties & Agreements, Customary Law and Interanational Organizations.  The tutorial ends with a list of Essential Sources that form the backbone of international legal research.

We have assigned this tutorial to the students in our Advanced Legal Research class several times over the past three years and many students have noted is utility in the research process.