Human Rights Treaties and Jurisprudence--Selected Resources

For presentation to Human Rights Clinic students of Professors Bridget Arimond and Sandra Babcock on September 10, 2010, by Irene Berkey, Foreign and International Law Librarian.

For questions about this guide, contact Library Reference, Foreign, Comparative, and International Law Librarian (e-mail | (312) 503-8451)

Introduction

This is a selective list of resources for researching the text and ratification status of human rights treaties and the jurisprudence of human rights bodies and international(ized) criminal courts and tribunals. For human rights bodies the list is arranged by system--United Nations and regional—and for international criminal law by the particular international(ized) court or tribunal. The list also includes resources that cover more than one human rights body, court, or tribunal, as well as selected resources for international law in domestic courts, international humanitarian law, and refugee case law. The focus is on indexes, digests, searchable databases, and other finding tools accessible to users of the Pritzker Legal Research Center.    

For treaty status information, the most important resource is the web site of the relevant IGO.  For jurisprudence, resources tend to fall into the following categories: search tools available on the organization’s web site; materials contained within commercial full text databases, such as Lexis and Westlaw; specialized products from commercial publishers, such as Oxford Reports on International Law; databases or search engines developed by academic or non-profit organizations, such as the University of Minnesota and the World Legal Information Institute; and print indexes or digests from IGOs, NGOs, and commercial sources. It is suggested that researchers use a variety of resources.      

For many topics, secondary sources, such as books and journal articles, provide background information as well as citations to significant jurisprudence and other documents. Researchers should use the library catalog (NUcat) as well as periodical indexes and databases . See Finding Articles and Papers on International Law and Finding Articles and Papers on foreign and  Comparative Law

 Also see the following pages of the library's web site:  Human Rights and Humanitarian Law and International Criminal Law/War Crimes/Genocide.

Contents

United Nations system
International Court of Justice
Inter-American system
European system
African system
International(ized) criminal tribunals
Resources for more than one court or tribunal
International law in domestic courts
International humanitarian law
Refugee case law
Human rights web sites

United Nations system

Resources from United Nations institutions

United Nations Documentation: Research Guide: Human Rights United Nations Dag Hammarskjold Library. Detailed information on finding U.N human rights documentation.

United Nations: Human Rights Portal

United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. This is the single most important resource for U.N. human rights documentation.

Treaty texts and status:

  • Click on the “quick linkâ€� to “human rights instrumentsâ€� in the right navigation panel. The page for each treaty text includes a navigational link to “Status of ratification, reservations and declarationsâ€� from the United Nations Treaty Collection, as well as a link to the relevant treaty body.
  • Click on Human rights bodies in the top navigation bar. Each treaty body page provides links to treaty texts and status information

Jurisprudence:

The first three of these may be accessed from the right navigation panel of the Human Rights Bodies page
Universal Periodic Review Documentation may be accessed from the Universal Periodic Review page.

Note: U.N. Human Rights Council. Texts of resolutions are not released separately, but may be retrieved from the Charter-Based Bodies Database. Also, texts of resolutions are included in the report to the General Assembly accessible from the Council’s home page.

United Nations Treaty Collection provides texts of treaties registered with the United Nations, as well as treaty ratification status and the texts of reservations and declarations. Under "Status of Treaties," which links to "Status of Multilateral Treaties deposited with the Secretary-General," see Chapter IV: Human Rights. Citation to United Nations Treaty Series (U.N.T.S) is provided. To access full text PDF text of a treaty from U.N.T.S, click on "full text/details" icon, then scroll down to "Text document(s)" for link(s) to PDF. (Another way to search for treaty texts by U.N.T.S citation is via the HeinOnline United Nations Law Collection, below. Treaty texts are also available in the WorldLII International Law Library, below. The U.N.T.S. is available in the law library in print format at Int 82 U58.

Documents portal  A convenient source for categories of U.N. documents, including resolutions of the General Assembly, Economic and Social Council, and Security Council.

UNBISnet (United Nations Bibliographic Information System). United Nations Dag Hammarskjold Library. The primary index to United Nations documentation published since 1979, or earlier for selected major documents. Especially useful for obtaining documents when the document symbol is not known. Links to the UNODS, which contains full text of documents.

UNODS (United Nations Official Documents System). Full text of United Nations documents. Most useful when the document symbol is know; if symbol is not known, approach via UNBISnet.

Resources from non-United Nations institutions: 

Centre for Civil and Political Rights (CCPR Centre). Includes State and NGO reports submitted to the Human Rights Committee.  A source for NGO “shadow reports� (“alternative reports,� “parallel reports.�)

EISIL: Electronic Information System for International Law American Society of International Law.  Authenticated full-text of primary and other materials. See especially the section for International Human Rights. Note: this database links to free resources only. Also note: EISIL does not link to the United Nations Treaty Collection. However, EISIL can be used to obtain a citation to U.N.T.S. (United Nations Treaty Series). Click on the "more information" link for a document; the "legal citation" provides the U.N.T.S. citation (as well as citations to other official print sources) when available.  

HeinOnline United Nations Law Collection includes the United Nations Treaty Series (U.N.T.S.) in PDF, searchable by. U.N.T.S. citation. It also includes many other U.N. materials in PDF.  A fee-based resource.

WorldLII (World Legal Information Institute) (International Law Library)  Includes searchable database of United Nations Treaty Series in PDF.

Flare Index to Treaties FIT. Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, University of London. A "searchable database of basic information on over 1,500 of the most significant multilateral treaties from 1856 to the present, with details of where the full text of each treaty may be obtained in paper and, if available, electronic form on the Internet."

The United Nations Human Rights Treaties, maintained by Prof. A.F. Bayefsky, York University, Toronto, Canada.

International Court of Justice

International Court of Justice (official site) Includes a search function (not operational 9/3/10)

LexisNexis: International Court of Justice Decisions, Combined Searchable database of “the full-text, English-language judgments and advisory opinions of the International Court of Justice from 1948, and application, written pleadings and orders from pending cases filed in 2004 forward.�  Fee-based resource.

Westlaw: International Law - International Court of Justice (INT-ICJ) Searchable database of “full text of documents from the International Court of Justice....coverage begins with 1947. Source of this material is the ICJ's publication Report of Judgments, Advisory Opinions and Orders, last published in 2000. Selected documents released and made available by the International Court of Justice prior to publication of the Report, from 2001 - current, are also included.� Fee-based resource.

HeinOnline: United Nations Law Collection includes International Court of Justice Reports of Judgmemts.Advisory Opinions, and Orders in PDF.  Fee-based resource.

WorldLII (World Legal Information Institute). International Law Library has full-text searchable database of ICJ decisions and transcripts.

International Court of Justice Reports of Judgments, Advisory Reports, and Orders are available in the law library in print format at Int 858 R31.

International Court of Justice (ICJ) Resources: A Checklist Pritzker Legal Research Center

Inter-American System

American Convention on Human Rights

The Organization of American States, Department of International Law, provides the text of the Convention , as well as a treaty status chart. The texts of other Inter-American treaties may be found via the page on Treaties and Agreements

Inter-American Court of Human Rights

Inter-American Court of Human Rights (official web site) may be searched by subject, as well as by country and date. In the English version, under "Advanced Search" click on "Jurisprudence." Then, under either of the headings "Search by date" or "Search by subject," click on the text block, rather than the heading. In Spanish, under "Buscador avanzada" click on "Jurisprudencia." Then, under either of the headings "BÚsqueda Cronologica" or "BÚsqueda Tem�tica," click on the text block, rather than the heading.

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights: Case Law and Commentary, by Laurence Burgorgue-Larsen and Amaya Úbeda de Torres (Oxford University Press, 2011). A scholarly approach to the major cases of the Court, arranged by theme.  The index includes an approach by topic, as well as by articles of the American Convention on Human Rights (under the heading “conventions�). (N,KAA KDZ 579 .I58B874 2011)

Repertorio de Jurisprudencia del Sistema interamericano de Derechos Humanos: La Corte Interamericana de Derechos Humanos: 1980-1997. Academy on Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, Washington College of Law, American University. Arranged by articles of the Convention. Spanish only.

Inter-American Commission on Human Rights

Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (official web site). Click on "Search" in top navigation. See "Tips for searching." Search includes reports.

Inter-American Human Rights Database. Washington College of Law, American University. Documents of the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights, in English and Spanish. Includes Annual Reports, Reports on Sessions, and Special Reports. Begins with first session, 1960.

Westlaw: Inter-American Commission on Human Rights - Organization of American States (IACHR-OAS). “Sections, case reports, press communiques, and press releases appearing in the Annual Report of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and Basic Documents Pertaining to Human Rights in the Inter-American System from the Organization of American States (OAS). Coverage begins with 1994 for the Annual Reports.... Coverage for the Basic Documents ... is current through the 1996 update.�

European System

European Convention on Human Rights

The web site of the European Court of Human Rights links to the text of the European Convention on Human Rights (Convention on the protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms) as well as other Council of Europe human rights treaties, from the Council of Europe Treaty Office page.

The Council of Europe  “Search on Treaties� page provides, for each treaty in the Council of Europe Treaty Series (CETS)  its full chart of of signatures and ratifications, as well as a list of declarations, reservations, and other communications, the full text of the treaty, an d the Explanatory report.

European Court of Human Rights

European Court of Human Rights. HUDOC database. A searchable database of "the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights, the European Commission of Human Rights and the Committee of Ministers," including judgments, decisions, resolutions and reports.

LexisNexis: European Court of Human Rights Cases (ECHR)  Full text searchable.  “This file contains judgments of the European Court of Human Rights each with a digest and catchwords.�  Fee-based resource.

LexisNexis: Human Rights Cases “Summaries and transcripts of decisions of the European Court of Human Rights from 1960 and Butterworths Human Rights Cases from 1996, covering landmark decisions from international, European and English courts and tribunals.� Fee-based resource.

Human Rights Case Digest. British Institute of Human Rights. Online and in print. HeinOnline, vols. 1-15 (1990-2005 only; no additional content will be added); Academic Search Premier, 1999 onward (at present to 2007). (N,EAA KJC 5132 .A52486)

European Human Rights Reports. European Law Centre, Ltd. Has index by topic. Note: references are to case number as published in the set. (N,EAA KJC 5132 .A52E97)

Search NUcat for subject HUMAN RIGHTS--EUROPE--DIGESTS

African System

African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights

African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights. Under the heading "Legal Instruments" provides the text of the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights, as well as the texts of other conventions. Under the heading "Documentation" and sub-heading "Ratifications" is a page on Status of Ratification/Accession to OAU/AU Human Rights Treaties

African International Courts and Tribunals Project on International Courts and Tribunals. A centralized source of information on regional and other international courts and tribunals "substantially touching Africa."

African Human Rights Law Reports. Also available via link in NUcat record. A joint publication of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria, South Africa. Decisions of U.N. human rights bodies, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and domestic courts in Africa. Reports are downloadable in PDF.

International criminal tribunals

International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia

International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia Official website. "The Cases" link in navigation bar leads to searchable database ICTY Court Records ,  which contains  “ more than 190,000 public records, ranging from arrest warrants, motions, exhibits, through to the final appeal judgement in every cases� (registration  required ) and ICTY Judgement List,  which contains  all ICTY judgements and judgement summaries in searchable format.�

Westlaw: International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia – Combined (INT-ICTY-ALL) “All documents (judgments, decisions, orders, indictments, transcripts, and press releases) issued by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.... Coverage begins with 1995.�

Westlaw: International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia-cases (INT-ICTY) “Judgments, decisions, orders, indictments, and transcripts released by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. Coverage begins with 1995.�

Westlaw: International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia – Basic Legal Documents (INT-ICTY-BLD) “Basic legal documents regarding the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, including rules of procedure and evidence (as amended) promulgated by the tribunal on February 11, 1994, and practice directions established by the tribunal. Coverage begins with 1995.�

Westlaw: International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia – Press Releases (INT_ICTY-PR) “Press releases issued by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia regarding indictments, judgments, and sentencings by the tribunal. Coverage begins with 1995.�

Westlaw: International Criminal Tribunal – Combined (INT-ICT) “All documents released by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. Coverage begins with 1995.�

Trahan, Jennifer. Genocide, War Crimes, and Crimes Against Humanity: A Topical Digest of the Case Law of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. Human Rights Watch, 2006. Text can be downloaded at the Human Rights web site.

International Tribunal for the Prosecution of Persons Responsible for Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law Committed in the Territory of the Former Yugoslavia since 1991. Judicial Reports / International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia = Recueils judiciaires / Tribunal pÉnal international pour l'ex-Yougoslavie. "Published for and on behalf of the United Nations." (I,MON K 5301 .A47J83) “Table of References� at end of each year is an index by article of statute, convention, etc.

International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda

International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (official site) In lower navigation bar click on  “ICTR Case Law,� which links to ICTR Basic Documents and Case Law  , a “fully searchable collection of documents pertaining to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.� This coves the period 1995 to 2006.  Also, from the home page, in the lower navigation bar click on “Public Judicial Records Database,� which links to the UN-ICTR Judicial Database.

Westlaw: International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (INT-ICTR) “All documents (judgments, decisions, orders, and indictments) issued by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda....�

Westlaw: International Criminal Tribunal – Combined (INT-ICT) “All documents released by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. Coverage begins with 1995.�

Trahan, Jennifer. Genocide, War Crimes and Crimes  Against Humanity: A Digest of the Case Law of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.  Human Rights Watch, 2010.  Print edition is on order.

Special Court for Sierra Leone

Special Court for Sierra Leone Official website

Digest of Jurisprudence of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, 2003-2005, by Cyril Laucci. (I,MON KZ 1208 .S53L38 2007)

International Criminal Court

International Criminal Court Official website. See "Situation and Cases," (left navigation panel). Under "Legal Texts and Tools" (left navigation panel) see "Legal Tools" for description of the ICC "Legal Tools Project." Some components of the project are available to the public (one must accept "terms and conditions of use") and some are available only by application.

The Annotated Digest of the International Criminal Court, compiled by Cyril Laucci. (I,MON KZ 219.2 .A48 v.1 (2004-2006) and v.2 (2007))

Resources for more than one court or tribunal

University of Minnesota Human Rights Library : Search Options More than one human rights body can be searched simultaneously. Click on "Search the University of Minnesota Human Rights Library"

Oxford Reports on International Law - Criminal Law Includes ICC, ICTR, ICTY, International Military Tribunal, Nuremburg, and Special Court for Sierra Leone. Cases may be searched by full text or head notes  (editorial content provided by publisher).

Documentation Centre, Netherlands Institute of Human Rights (SIM). University of Utrecht school of Law. Ratif database has data on the signing, ratification and entry into force of the major human rights instruments and regional instruments, with additional protocols; information on the acceptance of additional competences (such as the submission of inter-State complaints, Article 41 CCPR). Can be searched by treaty and by country. The texts of reservations, declarations, and objections can be searched. The Case Law databases provide searching of CCPR, CAT, CERD, and CEDAW; ECHR; concluding observations of the UN treaty bodies in the context of country reports ("UNCOM"); general comments and general recommendations of UN treaty bodies ("General Comments"); ICTY case law is integrated into the database for ICTR ("Tribunals"). Can be searched by treaty article and keyword (for UN materials, from Thesaurus).

WorldLII International Courts & Tribunals Project World Legal Information Institute. Searchable database includes several human rights bodies (ECHR, Inter-American Court and Commission, ICJ, CAT, CERD, UN Human Rights Committee decisions, 1977-)  and international criminal tribunals (ICC decisions and transcripts,ICTY, ICTR, Special Panel for Serious Crimes -Timor Leste, Special Court for Sierra Leone). It also includes ICJ decisions and transcripts. Courts may be searched individually or in combination.

Commonwealth and Human Rights Case Law Database (Interights). “Over 2,000 summaries of significant human rights decisions are available, from both domestic Commonwealth courts, and from tribunals applying international human rights law such as the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the European Court of Human Rights and many more.� Can be searched by subject.

Basic Documents and Jurisprudence of International/ized Criminal Courts and Tribunals War Crimes Research Office, Washington College of Law, Washington University. By subscription. “This collection of jurisprudence is the only one of its kind and is available to researchers, international/ized courts and tribunals and practitioners of international criminal and humanitarian law around the world. In the summer of 2007, the WCRO launched online access to the jurisprudence, thus expanding access and permitting easy downloading and searching of the documents.�

Annotated Leading Cases of International Criminal Tribunals. Organized by tribunal. Includes table of contents by topic. (I,MON KZ 1190 1999)

International Human Rights Reports. Reproduces documents of United Nations bodies, Inter-American Court and Commission, and some other bodies. Annual index includes case index by treaty article. (I,MON K 3239.23 .I58 )

International law in national (domestic) courts

International Law in Domestic Courts Available from anywhere to all members of the Northwestern University community Oxford Reports on International Law. A searchable database of "domestic cases in international law from over 60 jurisdictions." Fee based resources.

Commonwealth and Human Rights Case Law Databases (Interights). “Over 2,000 summaries of significant human rights decisions are available, from both domestic Commonwealth courts, and from tribunals applying international human rights law such as the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the European Court of Human Rights and many more.� Can search by keyword.

International Law Reports. This series seeks to provide “comprehensive access in English to judicial materials bearing on public international law.� Includes decisions of international tribunals, international arbitrations, and decisions of national tribunals. Note that for human rights cases: “...the Reports will continue to publish decisions of the European Court of Human Rights and of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, as well as ‘views' of the United Nations Committee on Human Rights. Decisions of national courts on the application of conventions on human rights will not be published unless they deal with a major point of substantive human rights law or a matter of wider interest to public international lawyers such as the relationship of international law and national law, the extent of the right of derogation or the principles of the interpretation of treaties.� Each volume includes a digest of cases, table of treaties, and index. Consolidated index volumes have been published at various intervals.
Call Number: Int 003 A61

Humanitarian Law

International Humanitarian Law. International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). Includes Treaty database and National Implementation database of "implementing laws and legislation" and "national case law," which can be searched by state or keyword.

Refugee case law

Michigan-Melbourne Refugee Caselaw Site. The University of Michigan Law School and the University of Melbourne Law School. A searchable database of selected recent decisions from national courts. "This site is designed to assist judges, advocates, and policymakers around the world to access leading court decisions that interpret the refugee definition set by the 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 protocol."

Human rights web sites

HuriSearch Portal HURIDOCS (Human Rights Documentation and Information Systems International) A search engine that searches over 5,000 human rights websites worldwide.

 

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