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Global Legal Studies Law Review- Legal Research Strategies and Tips



How international law legal researchers sometimes feel:

Source: PEXELS

The good news: You can do it!

What research options are available to you? What are your time constraints? Take time to create a plan that involves the sources you plan to consult.

Do you speak the language?

Do you know the difference between international law, foreign law and comparative legal research?

How many legal systems/traditions are there in the world?

How many legal systems/traditions are there in the world?

There is a tool that will keep your online research organized

There is a tool that will keep your research organized

You may want to download zotero to your browser. This tool is a true time saver!

This is a free and easy-to-use Firefox extension that helps you collect, manage, and cite your research sources. It lives right where you do your work — in the web browser itself. Check out the tutorial via this link:


Locate a libguide or research guide that covers the topic you want to do research on

Locate a libguide!

Do not try to reinvent the wheel. There are many useful guides out there that may help you jump start your research. There are plenty available on the internet.



Finding a writable topic

Finding a writable topic

This is often a challenge. If you need current events you may want to explore newspapers, current articles and blogs. 

Newpaper articles are often great resources. Here is a link to a news portal that offers access to domestic and international news. JURIST ( is a web-based legal news and real-time legal research service powered by a mostly-volunteer team of over 60 part-time law student reporters, editors and Web developers led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA. 

The search "war crimes" in this portal retrieved several articles.


Things to think about

Things to think about

*For what country?
*Are you looking for a case, code, statute, administrative rule or decision, treaty, secondary sources etc.?
*Can you understand the language? On what topic?
*How recent do the materials have to be?
*Do you know anything about the legal/political system?
*Keep in mind that:
The materials may be more difficult to get to than U.S. materials.
*The publication process and hierarchy of foreign law may also differ from what a US educated lawyer is used to working with.

Deciphering citations…..

Deciphering Citations

You will need to know how to both cite and decipher ciations. 
2. International Citation Manual by Washington University Global Law Review
3. Other sources:
    Cardiff Index to Legal Abbreviations This website allows you to search for the meaning of abbreviations for English language legal         publications from the British Isles, the Commonwealth and the United States, including those covering international and comparative     law
5. Guide to foreign and international legal citations by New York University School of Law, Journal of international law and      politics Location: Law Reserve K89 .G85 2009  

What resources are available in our library and in print?

What resources are available in our library and in print?

These days a lot of international law materials are readily available for free via the internet. However, if you choose this option then you are forced to authenticate your sources and not everything is available online or via the internet.  When researching complex legal issue often a combination of print and online resources provide the best outcome. 

This library has a huge international law print collection and provides access to premier subscription databases. lThe library catalog is your friend


Examples of LC subject headings you may be interested in:

Hint: search by subject heading and the sort by most recent book that has been published.

International Criminal Court.

International criminal courts -- Cases.

International law -- Yugoslavia -- Cases.

Crimes against humanity

International crimes Criminal liability (International law)


Political atrocities

Human rights

Crimes against humanity

Human rights and crimes against humanity.

Still not satisfied or cannot locate it in our library? Feel free to search for sources via WorldCat/FirstSearch via an interlibrary loan request.

Did you locate a title that seems interesting – but you are in a time crunch? Try searching for the same call number in our catalog. Use the electronic browse feature in the catalog to identify a book of interest to your.

Why? Your challenge as a student: Time. Why wait to have a book interlibrary loaned to you when you can find a book with a similar content in our library.


Subscription databases

Subscription databases


  1. World Trials Library This collection includes more than 3,200 trials including complete sets of American State Trials, Howell's State Trials, and the Nuremburg Trials. It also includes famous trials from Philadelphia's Jenkins Law Library, Cornell University, and the University of Missouri-Columbia's trials collections. It contains trial transcripts, critical court documents, and trial-related resources such as monographs which analyze and debate the decisions of famous trials, as well as biographies of many of the greatest trial lawyers in history.
  2. The online subscription database Oxford Reports on International Law (ORIL) reports on international courts, domestic courts and ad hoc tribunals. Case reports contain the full text of each decision, headnote, as well as analytical commentary and English translations of a number of key non-English decisions. With reports on over 4,000 cases,ORIL is now rightly regarded as a must-have resource for the international law researcher.

          The case law IN ORIL  is divided into 5 modules:

          Oxford Reports on International Law in Domestic Courts

          Oxford Reports on International Criminal Law

          Oxford Reports on International Human Rights Law,

          Oxford Reports on International Investment Claims

          Oxford Reports on International Courts of General Jurisdiction


  1. Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law Written by over 650 scholars and practitioners from around the world and edited by a team from the Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law. Includes over 700 new topics not covered in the previous print edition, and will be updated quarterly. Includes Oxford Law Citator linking to related content available in all new Oxford online legal services.
  2. Here is a link to more databases that are worth checking out:


Articles: Are you seeking articles on your topic? Try searching for articles on you topic by author/title/keyword search or the advance search option.

Your options:

  1. Index to Legal Periodicals(1980-current) Indexing of over 1,025 legal journals, law reviews, yearbooks, institutes, statutes, bar association publications, university publications, and government publications. Includes full-text of over 325 select periodicals
  2. Index to Legal Periodicals(retro 1908-1981) Indexes legal periodicals published in the United States, Canada, Great Britain, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand between 1908 and 1981
  3. Index to foreign legal periodicals IIndexes articles from more than 450 legal periodicals published worldwide, including journals, essay collections, festschrifts, and congress reports
  4. HeinOnline contains Law Journal Library, Foreign & International Law Resources Database, U.S. Federal Legislative History and Presidential Libraries, English Reports Library, Legal Classics Library and more.  Includes Index to Foreign Legal Periodicals, indexing worldwide journals, essay collections, and festschrifts. 



Foregin Law Guide

Foreign Law Guide

Here is a direct link:

Ad Hoc Tribunals

Ad Hoc Tribunals

The UN has been involved with several tribunals established to bring justice to victims of international crimes. The Security Council established two ad hoc tribunals, the ICTY and the ICTR. The UN has also been involved in various ways with the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL), the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), and others. While transitional justice and rule of law continue to be important to the UN, it is likely that the International Criminal Court will handle most situations that arise in the future. There are many secondary sources of information that can support research on various aspects of the work of the tribunals.

International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY)

Formal name: International Criminal Tribunal for the Prosecution of Persons Responsible for Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law Committed in the Territory of the Former Yugoslavia since 1991.

Basic Documents

Reports and Publications

  • Annual Reports to General Assembly and Security Council (list of symbols)
    • The full text of the annual reports can be accessed through the Tribunal's website, as well as the ODS and UNBISnet
  • The Yearbook provides information about the work, members (with biographies), jurisdiction, organization, functioning and activities of the Tribunal in a given year
    • Includes a bibliography of publications relating to the Tribunal released during the reporting period
  • The Judicial Reports reprint all public indictments as well as the decisions and judgements 

International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR)

Formal name: International Criminal Tribunal for the Prosecution of Persons Responsible for Genocide and Other Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law Committed in the Territory of Rwanda and Rwandan Citizens Responsible for Genocide and Other Such Violations Committed in the Territory of Neighbouring States between 1 January and 31 December 1994.

Basic Documents

Reports and Publications

  • Annual reports to General Assembly and Security Council (list of symbols)
  • Detailed information about cases is available on the website

International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (UNMICT)

The work of the ICTY and ICTR will soon be completed, however some tasks, including archiving of the case materials, will be carried out by a new body, the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals.  This body calls itself the UN Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (UNMICT).

Because this is a new body, and the Tribunals are still completing their work, it is not yet clear how much of the ICTY and ICTR website functions will be carried out by the Residual Mechanism.

Khmer Rouge Tribunal documents can be located via this link:

Source: United Nations Dag Hammerskjold's research guide on international law. 

Not all sources that you want to retrieve may be readily available

Not all sources that you want to retrieve may be readily available

Experienced researchers will from time to time  experience that  not all trial documents are available online nor in all of the print sources.

 For example, in the ICTR case of Alfred Musema (ICTR-96-13), the original indictment charged Musema with "genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide" and other charges. The amended indictment charged him with "genocide, or in the alternative, complicity in genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide" and other charges. The charge of complicity in genocide was omitted from the original indictment.

The ICTR website only provides the amended indictment. The print source Reports of Orders, Decisions and Judgements (ICTR) likewise only includes the amended indictment (although it is not labeled "amended").

The only sources that reprint the original indictment (the indictment not including the complicity in genocide charge) are the Global War Crimes Tribunal Collection  KZ1190.G56. The bottom line: for the most thorough research, be sure to compare online and print availability of e.g.  ICTR and ICTY documents!



ICC Legal Tools Project

ICC Legal Tools Project


The Whitney R. Harris World Law Institute of Washington University School of Law concluded a Co-Operation Agreement with the International Criminal Court in September 2009. Under the Co-Operation Agreement, the Harris Institute is responsible for collecting and uploading documents for the "National Jurisdictions" and "National Cases Involving Core International Crimes" folders in the ICC Legal Tools database.

The Harris Institute has been researching, collecting, and analyzing relevant domestic legislation and case law concerning genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes for the following States:

Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Comoros, Eritrea, Ghana, Kenya, Kiribati, Lesotho, Liberia, Malawi, Mauritania, Mauritius, Namibia, Niger, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, South Africa, Swaziland, Tonga, Tuvalu, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

For more information about the project and to access the ICC Legal Tools database, click here.

Source: Whitney R. Harris World Law Institute website.

Staying current

Staying current

Oxford Law Reports Citator: 
The law school's subscription database Oxford International Law Reports has a citator. 
Use the Citator to:
  • find a definitive citation for a piece of legal information
  • find other things that discuss or mention something (e.g. a case, or a legislative or treaty provision)
  • find other items in the same subject area or from the same jurisdiction, and
  • link onwards to reliable full text of relevant sources, on OUP services or the wider web
JustCite is a citator allows for searching the case law, statutory and regulatory law of the United Kingdom, and also offers coverage of Ireland, the European Union, parts of the Caribbean, and Singapore.
So are blogs: Here are a couple of blogs that you may want to check in with: 

About the Author

About the Author

 Tove Klovning is the  law school's  Foreign/Comparative and International Law Librarian and Lecturer in Law. She oversees foreign, comparative, and international law services at the law library and teaches Legal Research Methodologies I & II. She often guest lecturers on legal research methodology strategies in seminar classes and assists researchers with legal research questions relating to foreign law, comparative law, and international law, as well as questions related to the American legal system. She has written several research guides on American, international, and foreign legal issues. Klovning has taught in the Global Legal Studies Master Program at the Universidade Catolica Portuguesa in Lisbon, Portugal, and has been a speaker at both U.S. and international conferences. Before joining the law school, Klovning worked at the Albert Jenner, Jr. Law Library of the University of Illinois, assisted as a Visiting Research Scholar in the Ombudsman Office at Southern Illinois University, Illinois, was a law clerk intern for the Bergen Circuit Court in Norway, and a legal caseworker in Bergen, Norway. Klovning  has resided in various countries across Asia and is multilingual. She is an associate member of the American Bar Association.

Phone: (314) 935-6443

Publications and Activities  [view]

© 2013 to current date. All Rights Reserved. Excerpts and links may be shared provided that full and clear credit is given to the  authors together with a link to the original guide. External links are being provided as a convenience purposes only. This guide is in part adapted from a guide that I wrote on this topic in 2013. That guide is now archived.