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Foreign & International Law

This guide is intended to help researchers find the most used sources and materials in foreign & international law with a primary focus on electronic research.

What is International Law?

Public international law is the law between and among countries, i.e. treaties, agreements, international court decisions, and other commentary.

The tabs above will introduce you to these basic concepts and help you locate sources foreign and international law.

Sources of International Law

Since there is no overall legislature or law-creating body, research in this field requires the use of a wide variety of sources.

Students and scholars in the United States often use the Restatement of the Law (Third), the Foreign Relations of the United States as a guide to identifying international law as applied in the US (ALI Restatement 3rd, Section 101).

  • "International law, as used in this Restatement, consists of rules and principles of general application dealing with the conduct of states and of international organizations and with their relations inter se, as well as with some of their relations with persons, whether natural or juridical."

Article 38 (1) of the Statute of the International Court of Justice provides the sources of international law which it applies:

  • international conventions or treaties,
  • customary international law,
  • general principles of law recognized by civilized nations,
  • and judicial decisions and teachings of highly qualified publicists.

Researchers in international law may apply these sources though not necessarily in this order. In fact, it is often most efficient to begin your research with secondary sources.

Subject Guide