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International Law: Home

A guide to researching international law for law students, bar examinees, and other researchers.


Duty: A tax imposed on a commodity or transaction, especially on imports. 

Hague Convention: The short name for any one of the many numerous international conventions that address different legal issues and attempt to standardize procedures between countries.

International Agreement: A treaty or other contract between different countries, such as GATT or NAFTA.

International Law: The legal system governing the relationships between countries; more modernly, the law of international relations, embracing not only countries but also such participants as international organizations and individuals (such as those who invoke their human rights or commit war crimes.) 

Neutral: A person or country taking no side in a dispute; esp., a country that is at peace and is committed to aid neither of two or more belligerents.

Sovereign state: A state that possesses an independent existence, being complete in itself, without being merely part of a larger whole to whose government it is subject.

Tariff: A schedule or system of duties imposed by a government on imported or exported goods.

Territory: A geographical area included within a particular government's jurisdiction; the portion of the earth's surface that is in a state's exclusive possession and control.

Treaty: An agreement formally signed, ratified, or adhered to between two countries or sovereigns; an international agreement concluded between two or more states in written form and governed by international law.

United Nations: An international organization established in 1945 to promote and ensure international peace and security, to promote friendly relations between countries, and to contribute in resolving international problems related to economic, social, cultural, and humanitarian conditions.

All definitions from Black's Law Dictionary (11th ed. 2019).


Traditionally, international law consisted of rules and principles governing the relations and dealings of nations with each other, though recently, the scope of international law has been redefined to include relations between states and individuals, and relations between international organizations.  Public international law, concerns itself only with questions of rights between several nations or nations and the citizens or subjects of other nations. In contrast, Private international law deals with controversies between private persons, natural or juridical, arising out of situations having significant relationship to more than one nation. In recent years the line between public and private international law have became increasingly uncertain. Issues of private international law may also implicate issues of public international law, and many matters of private international law have substantial significance for the international community of nations.

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Subscription Databases

Bloomberg Law: On the main page type in "International Law" in the search box on the home page, and select All Legal Content from the drop down menu. You may then refine your search results by date or by source type using the filters on the left side of the screen.

Lexis Advance: Click on Browse Topics located above the search box, and find “International Law” or “International Trade”. There you can choose from a number of preselected topics or search for additional topics within the environmental law topic.

Westlaw: Under the “All content” browse box, select the “International Materials” link (located on the lower right-hand corner). This will allow you to filter results by notable locations, such as Hong Kong, or by document types.

Subject Guide

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American Society of International Law — The Electronic Resource Guide, often called the ERG, has been published online by ASIL since 1997. Systematically updated and continuously expanded, the ERG is designed to be used by students, teachers, practitioners, and researchers as a self-guided tour of relevant, quality, up-to-date online resources covering important areas of international law. The ERG also serves as a ready-made teaching tool at graduate and undergraduate levels.

European Union – Main website of the European union.

Library of Congress — The Guide to Law Online, prepared by the Law Library of Congress Public Services Division, is an annotated guide to sources of information on government and law available online. It includes selected links to useful and reliable sites for legal information.

International Committee of the Red Cross — Links to international treaties and the states parties to those treaties.