International Law Pathfinder
“International Law” is often popularly used as a catch-all phrase to embrace a number of legal issue as diverse as the laws of war, the law of the sea, the laws of diplomacy and international relations, the laws governing international trade and business, and, simply, the laws of foreign lands. A popular legal dictionary defines “International Law” as:
The legal system governing the relationships between nations; more modernly, the law of international relations, embracing not only nations but also such participants as international organizations and individuals (such as those who invoke their human rights or commit war crimes).—Also termed public international law; law of nations; law of nature and nations; jus gentium; jus gentium publicum;jus inter gentes; foreign-relations law; interstate law; law between states (the word state, in the later two phrases, being equivalent to nation or country).
Black's Law Dictionary 892 (9th ed. 2009). Scholarly discussions of international law can help the researcher find context for their international law issue, and lead to primary sources of international law. International organizations provide information and resources on international law and issues between nations and international bodies. Among the sources of International Law for researchers to consider are customary international law, domestic and foreign law (i.e., the laws of foreign countries), treaties and other international agreements, and case decisions from foreign and international tribunals.
This Pathfinder is designed as a study supplement for Villanova Law School students, and is not intended to constitute legal advice. The Pathfinder features resources available through the Villanova School of Law’s Law Library. It is by no means comprehensive, but does provide a point of departure for law students and researchers seeking information on international law. Certain electronic resources noted below are freely available on the Internet. Other resources are available through the Law Library’s webpage, and may require a password for access. Consult a Reference Librarian if you need assistance in accessing any of the Library’s electronic databases.
Scholarly material on International Law
Legal Dictionaries: Use legal dictionaries to define unfamiliar legal terms.
Black’s Law Dictionary , (9th ed. 2009) (Reserve KF156 .B53 2009)
- E. Lindbergh, Modern Dictionary of International Legal Terms (1993) (Reference K54 .L5 1993).
- James R. Fox, Dictionary of International and Comparative Law (2003) (Class Reserve KZ1161 .F69 2003)
Encyclopedia: Encyclopedia on international law can provide a concise introduction to the full scope of the subject, along with citations to primary and secondary sources of law that illustrate their discussion of various issues. Some suggested works appear below:
Encyclopedia of Public International Law
(Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law, under the direction of Rudolf Bernhardt, Peter Macalister-Smith, ed., 1992) (Third Floor KZ1160 .E5 1992).
International Encyclopedia of Comparative Law
(Issued under the auspices of the International Association of Legal Science, Editorial committee: R. David [and others]Tubingen, J.C.B. Mohr (Paul Siebeck) (Lower Level K530 .I5 1973).
Encyclopaedic Dictionary of International Law
(John P. Grant & J. Craig Baker, eds. 2004).
- Edmund Jan Osmacyzk, Encyclopedia of the United Nations and International Agreements (Anthony Mango, ed., Rev. 2003).
Restatements of the Law: Compiled by the American Law Institute, these authoritative secondary sources feature concise statements of legal rules, commentary, hypothetical situations illustrating the application of the rules, and citation to cases:
Restatement of the Law, The Foreign Relations Law of the United States (Hornbook Reserve; Second Floor KF4651. F685 1987)
American Law Reports International: This relatively new source features annotations (articles) on various issues of international law, supported by numerous references to primary authorities. American Law Reports is available in print form in the Library (Second Floor: KF137 .I5 2010).
Treatises: To find treatises on international law and related topics, use the Law Library’s (or another library’s) online public access catalog (OPAC), or use the WORLDCAT database available to Villanova students through Falvey Library, the main campus library (use the “Databases A-Z” link on the Falvey Library website).
Some suggested material is listed below:
- John F. Murphy, The Evolving Dimensions of International Law: Hard Choices for the World Community (2010) (Reserve KZ3410 .M868 2010).
- Brian D. Lepard, Customary International Law: A New Theory with Practical Applications (2010) (Third Floor KZ1277 .L47 2010).
- Emilia Onyema, International Commercial Arbitration and the Arbitrator's Contract (2010) (Lower Level K2400 .O59 2010).
Sources of International Law
(Martii Koskenniemi, ed., 2000) (Reference KZ3410 .S68 2000).
The Laws of War: A Comprehensive Collection of Primary Documents on International Laws Governing Armed Conflict (W. Michael Reisman & Chris T. Antoniou, eds., 1994) (KZ6383 .L39 1994).
Study Guides and General Reference:
- Marci B. Hoffman & Robert C. Berring, International Legal Research in a Nutshell (2008) (Hornbook Reserve KZ1234 .H64 2008).
- Lakshman D. Guruswamy & Kevin L. Doran, International Environmental Law in a Nutshell (3rd ed. 2007) (Hornbook Reserve K3585.6 .G87 2007).
- Thomas Buergenthal & Sean D. Murphy, Public International Law in a Nutshell (4th ed. 2007) (Hornbook Reserve KZ3410 .B84 2007).
- Ralph H. Folsom, et. al., International Business Transactions in a Nutshell (8th ed. 2009) (Hornbook Reserve K3943 .W54 2009).
- Mary Ann Glendon, Comparative Legal Traditions in a Nutshell (3rd ed. 2008) (Hornbook Reserve K560 .G48 2008).
- Valerie Epps & Lorie Graham, International Law: Examples and Explanations (2011) (Hornbook Reserve).
- Linda A. Malone, International Human Rights (2003) (Hornbook Reserve K3240 .M35 2003).
- Ralph H. Folsom, et. al., International Business Transactions (2nd ed. 2001) (Hornbook Reserve KF1976 .F65 2001).
Guide to International Legal Research
(The George Washington International Law Review, 2009) (Reference KZ1234 .G85 2009) (2010 edition on Class Reserve).
Guide to Foreign and International Legal Citations
(New York University School of Law, Journal of International Law and Politics, 2009) (K89 .G84 2009).
- N. J. Rengger with John Campbell, Treaties and Alliances of the World (6th ed. 1995) (KZ184 .T73 1995).
Law Reviews and Journals: Research law reviews and journals dealing with international and foreign law matters using legal periodical indexes and databases:
Heinonline: International & Non-U.S. Law Journals
Lexis-Nexis: International Law Review Articles, Combined
Westlaw: World Journals and Law Reviews (WORLD-JLR)
WestLawNext: International Law Reviews & Journals
Some law journals on International Law available in print at Villanova:
Penn State International Law Review
(Lower Level K4 .I352)
Oregon Review of International Law
(Lower Level K15 .R37)
Cardozo Journal of International and Comparative Law
(Lower Level K3 .A894)
Check the Library’s OPAC for more print journals.
Source Material on International Law
United States Law: The laws of the United States, how they give force to the international legal order, and are themselves shaped by international agreement and the international legal consensus make them an important source of International Law. The most essential source of United States law is of course the Constitution. Statutes and Regulations may be found at the following links and also in Lexis Westlaw and WestLawNext. Print versions of these resources are generally available in the Library’s collection; consult the Library’s Online Public Access Catalog (OPAC) or a Reference Librarian:
United States Case Law: Depending upon the forum and the claims involved in the particular case, a researcher may need to find United States cases to fully research their international law question.
West Digest System: Use the West Digest System to find United States cases relevant to International Law inquiries.
International Law is Topic Number 221 in the West Digest System.
West’s Federal Practice Digest 4th
(Second Floor KF127 .W47 1989)
West’s Supreme Court Reporter (Second Floor; Compact Shelving KF101 .S3)
Court websites (Federal courts and federal courts in Pennsylvania):
Court websites for other jurisdictions in the United States are available online.
Case Decisions from International Courts and Tribunals: Some resources for cases from International courts and tribunals follow:
Other international courts, along with international business arbitration tribunals, may be found online.
Foreign Law: Foreign law is the law of foreign sovereignties. Use the following resources to locate the laws of individual nations:
Treaties: Treaties are agreements between various sovereignties, and are an indispensable source of law in international law research. For more on treaties to which the United States is a party, see the Villanova Law Library’s Research Guides webpage for a pathfinder on U.S. Treaties. For information on multilateral treaties and other international agreements, see:
Electronic resources for researching International Law
International Organizations : A selection of websites for International organizations. Others may be found on the Internet:
International Humanitarian Organizations and Human Rights Resources:
Heinonline: This database contains several libraries of information useful to international law researchers:
- International & Non-U.S. Law Journals
- English Reports, Full Reprint (1220-1867)
- European Center for Minority Issues.
- Foreign & international law Resources Database
- Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS)
- Treaties and Agreements Library
- United Nations Law Collection
- U.S. Presidential Library
- U.S. Statutes at Large
- U.S. Supreme Court Library
- World Constitutions Illustrated
- World Trials Library
International Law Research Guides: A number of useful resources for researching international law are freely available on the World Wide Web. A few such sources are listed below:
Information on Individual Countries on the Internet: Many countries have embraced the Internet and have made available much information about their governments and laws. Use popular search engines such as Google or Ask to search for information about foreign nations, such as official information on the national legal system or business and travel information. Knowledge of foreign languages is useful in such research, although many national websites are in several languages, often including English. As with all information on the Internet, the researcher should be aware of the quality of the information presented. Commentary and even official information regarding political entities such has national governments often display certain biases. A useful resource for such research may be found at Governments on the WWW. For official information on United States relations with foreign nations, see the “A-Z List of County and Other Area Pages” link on the U.S. Department of State website.
Villanova Law Library Databases: A number of international law resources are available on the Law Library’s Databases page. To use these resources in a location other than the Villanova Law School building, it may be necessary to enter your Law School username and password. Other resources may require to you to have personal accounts. If you need assistance using these databases, please speak to a Reference Librarian. The following databases are suggested for International Law Research:
Lexis and Westlaw: Law students and practitioners who have password access to Westlaw and Lexis may use the resources provided by these legal information systems. Subscribers to Lexis and Westlaw can make a shortcut to international law databases in either system by using the database tab displays. In Westlaw, use the “Add a Tab” function to add the “International Law” tab to your browser display. In WestLawNext, look under “Browse: All Content” for the “International Materials” link. This will take you to “International Directory.” In Lexis, use the “Tab” link to add the “International Law” tab. Both databases feature resources on foreign and international law, generally organized by region, country and international organization.
The tab shortcuts in Lexis and Westlaw are helpful, but you may proceed without them if you prefer. With whatever databases you select, remember to examine the “Scope Information for the database” button in Westlaw or the “Source Description” button in Lexis to learn what a particular database contains, and tips on how to efficiently access that information.