This page includes information for the Hastings International and Comparative Law Review (HICLR) about how to research foreign, international & comparative law. It includes print resources available in the Hastings Law Library, LexisNexis & Westlaw online resources, and key Internet links.

          Table of Contents

          Finding a Note Topic

          Current Awareness Resources

          There are several good publications and websites that provide current awareness information about evolving international legal issues.

          The Bureau of National Affairs (BNA) publishes a number of international law reporters that contain good current awareness information. The library has print subscriptions to many of these publications. Probably the most useful for finding topics is the International Trade Reporter.

          Bloomberg BNA-International Trade Reporter
          KF1975.A5 I5 or Online

          American Journal of International Law (AJIL)
          K1.M55 (First Floor Library) or Online
          Read the "Current Developments" & "International Decisions" sections.

          American Society of International Law Insights
          Full-text available online.
          These 2-3 page articles on topics of current interest are written by international law experts.

          International Legal Materials
          KZ64 I58 (First Floor Library) or Online
          Available on LexisNexis since 1962 (INTLAW;ILM)
          Available on Westlaw since 1980 (ILM)

          U.S. Law Week

          KF105 .U33 (First Floor Library) or Online
          Read either the "Summary and Analysis of Significant Court Opinions" or the "Legal News" section.

          Legal News

          Both Lexis and Westlaw have a good selection of US and foreign newspapers, where you can read about new legal issues. FindLaw also has a good section called International Law News.

          Other Websites

          Various international organizations, government agencies, and other interested parties have created websites tracking current international law issues. Such websites can be good places to find interesting topics. For example, take a look at these:

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          Contact an NGO

          Think about what you're really interested in, figure out which NGOs work in the area (if any), and contact the NGO to ask what would be useful to them. It's always more fun to write on a real-world problem. There are lots of NGO directories to find out who does what, or you can check with one of the professors.

          One good NGO directory is the book World Affairs Organizations in Northern California: A Guide to the Field published by the World Without War Council. It is in the Reference area of the First Floor Library at JX27 .W67 1995. It has a directory of organizations, profiles of 90 selected organizations, and a subject index.

          The Perkins Library at Duke University has compiled useful Non-Governmental Organization Research Guide with a list of NGOs by subject. The University of California Berkeley Library has Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) Research Guide that contains a search engine that is customized towards NGOs. 

          The Internet has provided an opportunity for smaller NGOs to spread their message around the globe. There are an amazing number of specialized NGOs. For example, the Directory of Coral Reef Organizations includes a list of over 600 NGOs & IGOs dealing specifically with the protection of coral reefs. (Such as the International Coral Reef Action Network and the UNEP Coral Reef Unit).

          Here is a list of some local NGOs that you may be interested in contacting:

          • Artists Embassy International – dedicated to the universal language of the Arts for peace...to support understanding, international friendship, inter-cultural appreciation and encouragement of artists. (SF/Richmond)
          • Asian Law Caucus – promotes, advances and represents the legal and civil rights of the Asian and Pacific Islander communities. (San Francisco)
          • Center for Justice & Accountability – works to stop torture and other serious human rights abuses around the world by helping the survivors of such abuses hold their perpetrators accountable, especially those perpetrators who live in or visit the United States. (SF)
          • Crabgrass – a small non-governmental organization based in San Francisco working globally and locally, on environmental, social justice and human rights issues. (SF)
          • Earthjustice – a non-profit public interest law firm dedicated to protecting the magnificent places, natural resources, and wildlife of this earth and to defending the right of all people to a healthy environment. Initially founded in 1971 as the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund. (Oakland)
          • Electronic Frontier Foundation – a donor-supported membership organization working to protect fundamental rights regardless of technology; to educate the press, policymakers and the general public about civil liberties issues related to technology; and to act as a defender of those liberties. (SF)
          • Global Youth Action Network – an online community designed to connect, educate, and empower young people working in the global population and reproductive health field. (SF)
          • Global Exchange – a human rights organization dedicated to promoting environmental, political, and social justice around the world. (SF)
          • Human Rights Watch – dedicated to protecting the human rights of people around the world. Their aim is to prevent discrimination, to uphold political freedom, to protect people from inhumane conduct in wartime, to bring offenders to justice, to investigate and expose human rights violations and hold abusers accountable, and to challenge governments and those who hold power to end abusive practices and respect international human rights law. (SF)
          • Natural Heritage Institute – a non-governmental, nonprofit organization founded in 1989 by a group of experienced conservation lawyers and scientists who foresaw the need for a toolkit for the next era of environmental problem solving: where the technical dimensions are more complex, the social calculus less obvious, the economics more central, the ramifications more global, and the conventional pathways less efficacious. (Berkeley)
          • Peaceworkers – a San Francisco-based international nonviolent peace organization, is the original sponsor of the proposal for a Global Nonviolent Peace Force. (SF)
          • Redefining Progress – a nonprofit public policy organization that creates policies and tools to encourage accurate market prices, to protect our common social and natural assets, and to foster social an economic sustainability. (Oakland)
          • Tibet Justice Center – committed to solving the situation in Tibet peacefully, through the rule of law. (Berkeley)
          • Women's Institute for Leadership Development – to promote human rights through the conscious leadership and action of women and girls...WILD provides human rights education, engages in public advocacy, and collaborates on the adoption and implementation of international human rights standards in the United States. (SF)

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          Doing a Preemption Check

          Hastings has created an easy-to-use seven-step online guide to doing a preemption check.  This page was created by the library to assist journal members in selecting article topics. It is set-up to allow you to quickly check various online research tools to make sure that an article has not already been researched and published about your selected topic.  Follow the seven preemption check steps below before you start writing your article.

          International & Comparative Law Research

          Research Guides

          The library has published a series of legal research guides covering topics that might be relevant when you are doing your research. Topics include:

          ASIL Guides to Electronic Resources for International Law

          United Nations Documentation: Research Guide on Human Rights Research

          Germain's Transnational Law Research: A Guide for Attorneys, by Claire M. Germain [K85 .G47, First Floor Library] - This widely-used guide is a great starting place for international and comparative law research. There are chapters covering The European Convention on Human Rights, The European Court of Human Rights, European Union, International Environmental Law, International Criminal Law, Human Rights, International Court of Justice, and International Labor Law.

          Guide to Human Rights Research, (published by Harvard Law School) K3236 T63 1994 (First Floor Library) - This research guide is also available on the web at http://www.law.harvard.edu/library/research/guides/int_foreign/human-rights-research.html

          Finding Books

          You can search Hastings Online Catalog for print titles at the Hastings Law Library. You can search other Library Catalogs (including MELVYL®) for additional print resources at local libraries. Or you can search "WorldCat" on FirstSearch to find out if any books exist on your topic at any library worldwide. (Note: FirstSearch is only available from computers on campus.) If you do find a book on your topic that we don't have at Hastings, you can submit a request to have the book borrowed by Hastings through inter-library loan (ILL). It can take up to two weeks to get books from ILL, so plan ahead.

          Finding Journal Articles

          Finding a journal article discussing the area of law you are planning to write about, can be a great way to start your research or to solidify an important point in your paper. Granted the articles you find will have a different focus than your paper, but they can help you find the major primary sources you will need. The library has created a useful guide to finding journal articles that should answer most of your questions about how to find articles in law reviews and other publications.

          Finding Primary Sources of International & Comparative Law

          International & Comparative legal research is VERY DIFFERENT from typical US legal research where you are simply finding a statute, regulation, or case. There is a lot of documentation located in a lot of different places. You will most likely need to search in books and online. The Internet is becoming a rich source of international law. Lexis and Westlaw can be useful, but are often not the best places to look for international law.

          Remember that the information you are searching for may be published by the US government, foreign governments, Inter-Governmental Organizations, Regional Organizations, or other international organizations. This can be confusing, so be patient and diligent! The library maintains a listing of some of the main sources of online international and comparative law. A few of the best sources of international law are also listed below:


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          United Nations

          • United Nations Law Research Guide
          • AccessUN - This index to the UN documents in the Hastings micrographics collection covers 1966-present. For older UN documents use the CD-ROM index listed below. (Available on campus only.)
          • Index to United Nations Documents and Publications - This CD-ROM contains an index to UN documents from 1946 to present. Once you find the UN document number using this index, you can locate the full-text online, in print, or on microfiche. The CD is kept at the circulation desk and must be used on the computers across from the reference desk. Most UN documents from 1981-present are available in the Readex UN Law Library Microfiche Collection filed at JZ5010 .U57 (ask a Reference Librarian for assistance, items must be paged for you). The CD also includes selected full-text resolutions from the General Assembly.
          • United Nations Treaty Series (UNTS) - This Internet database includes a full-text search of treaties and includes other UNTS databases as well. (Available only from computers on campus.)
          • United Nations World Wide Web Homepage - While many of the UN documents you need will be available online, for those hard-to-locate documents you may need to use the Hastings UN micrographics collection. (Ask a Reference Librarian for assistance, micrographic items must be paged for you.)
          • Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) Homepage
          • United Nations Human Rights Council
          • United Nations High Commissioner For Refugees (UNHCR) Homepage - Includes a great research page with a collection of full-text databases representing the most comprehensive and reliable refugee information available on the Internet.

          International Labour Organization

          • International Labour Organization
          • NATLEX is a continuously-updated database containing references to over 55,000 national laws on labor, social security, and related human rights, with over 300 laws in full text. Records and texts in NATLEX are in English, French, or Spanish. Search by country or subject.
          • Judgments of the Administrative Tribunal of the International Labour Organization - K1704.23 .J83 (pageable) or Online

          International Court of Justice

          International Criminal Court and Special International Tribunals

          The International Criminal Court (ICC) is the first permanent court capable of trying individuals accused of the most serious violations of international humanitarian and human rights law, namely genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. The treaty that established the ICC, the Rome Statute, entered into force on July 1, 2002, and provisional headquarters for the Court were opened shortly thereafter. The ICC is expected to begin investigating cases by 2004 or 2005. Visit the Coalition for the International Criminal Court webpage to read recent documents, press releases, and fact sheets.

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          International Environmental Law

          Human Rights

          WTO / GATT

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          Last Updated: April 9, 2013