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Public International Law Research Resources

A research guide to selected sources in public international law available at the Burns Law Library.

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International Law Dictionaries


The purpose of this guide is to introduce the researcher to the sources of international law and the basic print and electronic research tools available to find them.

Article 38 of the Statute of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) is generally considered to be the authoritative listing of the sources of international law. It lists them as the following:

  1. International conventions [treaties], whether general or particular, establishing rules expressly recognized by the contesting states;
  2. International custom, as evidence of a general practice accepted as law;
  3. The general principles of law recognized by civilized nations;

The statute also list two "subsidiary means for the determination of rules of law.", While they are not primary sources of law, they can be cited to show evidence of international law. They are:

  1. Judicial decisions
  2. The teachings of the most highly qualified publicists of the various nations

General Treatises on International Law

Reference/Foreign & International Law Librarian

Herb Somers's picture
Herb Somers
Jacob Burns Law Library, SL101B
716 20th Street NW Washington D.C. 20052

Encyclopedias of International Law