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George W. Hopper Law Library|College of Law

Researching International Human Rights Law

Introduction

This research guide will first introduce the primary instruments of international human rights law including declarations, treaties, reports, and case law. Next the guide will list relevant treatises, databases, and law reviews available from the George W. Hopper Law Library.  Finally, current awareness tools, country reports, relevant organizations, and resources for further research will be covered.  Please feel comfortable asking for assistance in person at the reference office, by phone (766-5737), or by email (lawref@uwyo.edu).

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Adopted in 1948 by the U.N. General Assembly, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/index.shtml) outlines the fundamental rights inherent to all people.  In its thirty articles, the document expresses many basic human rights including the rights to life, liberty and security of person, the right to marry and to form a family, the right to own property, the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, the right to peaceful assembly, the right to work in favorable conditions, the right to rest and leisure, the right to a standard of living, and the right to education.  In addition all people have the freedoms from torture or from cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment and from arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.  The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is available in over three hundred languages from http://www.ohchr.org/EN/UDHR/Pages/Introduction.aspx.

International Human Rights Treaties

The following table outlines the seven core international human rights treaties and their monitoring bodies.  Supplemental optional protocol are listed as well.   

Treaty

Date

 

Monitoring Body

Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD)

http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-2&chapter=4&lang=en

21 Dec 1965

 

CERD

 

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)

http://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/CCPR.aspx

16 Dec 1966

HRC

 

International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR)

http://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/CESCR.aspx

16 Dec 1966

 

CESCR

 

Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women  (CEDAW)

http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/cedaw/text/econvention.htm

18 Dec 1979

CEDAW

 

Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment  (CAT)

http://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/CAT.aspx

10 Dec 1984

CAT

 

Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC)

http://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/CRC.aspx

20 Nov 1989

CRC

International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families (ICRMW)

http://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/CMW.aspx

18 Dec 1990

 

CMW

 

Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)

http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/CRPD/Pages/ConventionRightsPersonsWithDisabilities.aspx

13 Dec 2006

 

CRPD

 

Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights  (ICCPR-OP1)

http://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/OPCCPR1.aspx

16 Dec 1966

 

HRC

 

Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty  (ICCPR-OP2)

http://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/2ndOPCCPR.aspx

15 Dec 1989

HRC

 

Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women  (OP-CEDAW)

http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/cedaw/protocol/

10 Dec 1999

CEDAW

 

Optional protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict  (OP-CRC-AC)

http://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/OPACCRC.aspx

25 May 2000

 

CRC

 

Optional protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography  (OP-2CRC-SC)

http://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/OPSCCRC.aspx

25 May 2000

CRC

 

 

Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment  (OP-CAT)

http://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/OPCAT.aspx

18 Dec 2002

 

CAT

Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)

http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/CRPD/Pages/OptionalProtocolRightsPersonsWithDisabilities.aspx 

13 Dec 2006

 

CRPD

 

Locating Treaty Reports and Other Documents

An important part of human rights research is the identification of documents required to be produced by treaty parties.   State parties must report progress through observations and commentaries.  These observations and commentaries may be found using one of the following resources.

Bayefsky.com / The United Nations Human Rights Treaties, http://www.bayefsky.com/bycategory.php
This site leads you not only to the text and amendments of human rights treaties, but also to relevant supporting documents.  The researcher will find ratifications, reservations, declarations, objections and derogations, reporting history, state reports, lists of issues, summary records, and concluding observations. The database is searchable by state, category, or subject matter.

United Nations Document System, http://documents.un.org/
The Official Document System (ODS) is available in multiple languages and covers all types of official United Nations documentation since 1993. The ODS also provides access to the resolutions of the General Assembly, Security Council, Economic and Social Council and the Trusteeship Council from 1946 onwards. A simple, advanced, or global search can be conducted.

U.N. Treaty Body Database, http://www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf
The U.N. Treaty Body database supplies the same supporting treaty documents as Bayefsky and then more.  Treaty documents are given in English, French, and Spanish and can by searched by county, symbol, treaty, type or date. 

Regional Human Rights Systems

In additional to the international human rights treaties, there are regional human rights systems as well.

Africa: African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights (Banjul Charter), http://www1.umn.edu/humanrts/instree/z1afchar.htm

Americas: American Convention on Human Rights, http://www.cidh.org/Basicos/English/Basic3.American%20Convention.htm

Europe:  Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, http://conventions.coe.int/Treaty/Commun/QueVoulezVous.asp?NT=005&CM=8&DF=4/25/2006&CL=ENG  

Locating Case Law

International courts, national courts, commissions, and treaty bodies all hear human rights cases.  There are several print reporters specifically publishing international human rights case law, though our library does not subscribe to these titles.  Our access to international human rights case law will be limited to electronic resources.

Oxford Reports on International Law, http://libproxy.uwyo.edu/login/?url=http://opil.ouplaw.com/home/ORIL
Oxford Reports on International Law is intended to be a single point of reference for all international law jurisprudence, providing researchers access to the widest possible range of international law jurisprudence. Modules include Oxford Reports on International Law in Domestic Courts, Oxford Reports on International Criminal Law, Oxford Reports on International Human Rights Law, Oxford Reports on International Courts of General Jurisdiction, and Oxford Reports on International Investment Claims. All reported decisions have a headnote, the full text of the decision, and are linked to the Oxford Law Citator. Access the International Law in Domestic Courts database from any University of Wyoming computer or off-campus with UWYO username and password.

Lexis, http://www.lexisnexis.com/lawschool/
Available to law school students, Lexis.com has a database specific to human rights case law.  To access the database, click on Area of Law - by Topic, then International Law, and select International Human Rights Cases.  This database provides 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.  This content is not yet available in Lexis Advance.

Westlaw, http://lawschool.westlaw.com
With a password, Westlaw Classic offers human rights case law searching as well.  Click on Directory and then run a search for "Human Rights Law Reports."  Available titles include Human Rights Law Reports (European Union and European Economic Community cases since 1999) and the European Human Rights Reports (European Court of Human Rights and selected reports from the European Commission of Human Rights since 1979).  This content is not yet available in WestlawNext.

Fortunately, many courts and commissions offer case law freely and directly from their websites.

Commonwealth and International Human Rights Case Law Database, https://sslvpn.uwyo.edu/commonwealth-and-international-law-database/,DanaInfo=www.interights.org+index.html

European Court of Human Rights / European Commission of Human Rights, http://www.echr.coe.int/
HUDOC is the name for the European Court of Human Rights Portal which is a database that provides free online access to the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights, the European Commission of Human Rights and the Committee of Ministers. (See link on top right of page for access to HUDOC)

Inter-American Court of Human Rights / Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, http://www.corteidh.or.cr/casos.cfm (cases since 1997)
http://cidh.org/casos.eng.htm  (cases since 1970)

SAFLII (South African Legal Information Institute),
http://www.saflii.org/

U.N. Committee Against Torture,
http://www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf (select CAT, then jurisprudence, cases since 1993)
http://www.bayefsky.com/docs.php/area/jurisprudence/node/3/treaty/ (conduct a search and limit to Jurisprudence)     

U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women,
http://www.bayefsky.com/docs.php/area/jurisprudence/node/3/treaty/
  (conduct a search and limit to Jurisprudence)

U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, http://www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf (select CERD, then jurisprudence, cases since 1988)
http://www.bayefsky.com/docs.php/area/jurisprudence/node/3/treaty/
 (conduct a search and limit to Jurisprudence)     

U.N. Human Rights Committee, http://www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf (select CCPR, then jurisprudence, cases since 1977) http://www.bayefsky.com/docs.php/area/jurisprudence/node/3/treaty/   (conduct a search and limit to Jurisprudence)                                                

World Legal Information Institute, http://www.worldlii.org/        

"In House" Treatises

Our library subscribes to a number of e-book collections which include international human rights law including Brill /Martinus Nijhoff Online, Cambridge Books Online, DeGruyter Online, Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law, Oxford Scholarly Authorities on International Law, and Oxford Scholarship Online.  Run a search in the Law Library Catalog to link to e-books in these collections.

Aside from e-books, these more current treatises, and perhaps others, are found on the George W. Hopper Law Library shelves.  Browse through the table of contents and index of a treatise for coverage. 

All Necessary Measures:  The United Nations and Humanitarian Intervention, Carrie Booth Walling
Location: Treatise Room                       Call Number: JZ 6369 .W353 2013

The Cambridge Companion to Human Rights Law, Conor Gearty et al.
Location: Treatise Room                       Call Number: K 3239.8 .C36 2012

Contemporary Issues in Refugee Law, Satvinder Singh Juss
Location: Treatise Room                       Call Number: K 3230.R45 C66 2013

The Development of Human Rights Law by the Judges of the International Court of Justice, Shiv R. S. Bedi
Location: Treatise Room                       Call Number:  K 3240 .B427 2007 

Encyclopedia of Human Rights, David P. Forsythe
Location: Reference Room                    Call Number:  JC 571 .E673 2009 (vols. 1-5) 

Global Health and Human Rights, John Harrington et al.
Location: Treatise Room                       Call Number: K 3260.3 .G58 2010

Human Rights and Criminal Procedure, Jeremy McBride
Location: Treatise Room                       Call Number: KJC 9485 .A52 2009

Human Rights and Gender Violence : Translating International Law into Local Justice, Sally Engle Merry
Location: Treatise Room                       Call Number:  HQ 1237 .M47 2006

Human Rights in International Relations, David P. Forsythe
Location: Treatise Room                       Call Number:  K 3240 .F67 2006

Intellectual Property, Human Rights, and Development, Duncan Matthews
Location: Treatise Room                       Call Number: K 1401 .M38 2011

International Human Rights in a Nutshell, Thomas Buergenthal
Location: Reserve Collection                Call Number: K 3240.4 .B84 2009

International Human Rights Law Sourcebook, Andrew Borene et al.
Location: Treatise Room                       Call Number: on order, 2014

International Human Rights Lexicon, Susan Marks and Andrew Clapham
Location: Treatise Room                       Call Number: K 3240 .M365 2005

International Humanitarian Law, Andrew Borene et al.
Location: Treatise Room                       Call Number: on order, 2014

The Legitimacy of International Human Rights Regimes, Andreas Follesdal et al.
Location: Treatise Room                       Call Number: K 3240 .L45 2014

Legitimizing Human Rights, Angus J.L. Menuge
Location: Treatise Room                       Call Number: K 3240 .M48 2013

Making Treaties Work : Human Rights, Environment and Arms Control, edited by Geir Ulfstein et al.
Location: Treatise Room                       Call Number: KZ 1301 .M35 2007

The Slave Trade and the Origins of International Human Rights Law,  Jenny Martinez
Location: Treatise Room                       Call Number:  K 3267 .M37 2012

Toward a Theory of Human Rights : Religion, Law, Courts,  Michael J. Perry
Location: Treatise Room                       Call Number:  JC 571.P4215 2007

Women's Human Rights, Anne Hellum et al.
Location: Treatise Room                       Call Number: K 644 .W6445 2013  

Electronic Resources

The library has access to the following free and subscription databases which can be used for researching international human rights law.  One's first instinct might be to head straight to Lexis or Westlaw, but note that these databases generally do not include non-U.S. journals and therefore may not include non-U.S. perspectives.  Access information for databases are noted.

CIAO, (Columbia International Affairs Organization) http://ciaonet.org/

Customary International Humanitarian Law Database, http://www.icrc.org/customary-ihl/eng/docs/home

Foreign Law Guide, (access database campus wide, full text) http://libproxy.uwyo.edu/login/?url=http://foreignlawguide.com/

HeinOnline - Foreign and International Law, (access database campus wide, full text) http://libproxy.uwyo.edu/login/?url=http://heinonline.org/HOL/Index?collection=intyb

HeinOnline - United Nations Law Collection, (access database campus wide, full text) http://libproxy.uwyo.edu/login/?url=http://heinonline.org/HOL/Index?collection=unl

HeinOnline - World Constitutions Illustrated,  (access database campus wide, full text) http://libproxy.uwyo.edu/login/?url=http://heinonline.org/HOL/Index?collection=cow

Human Rights Documents Online, (access database campus wide, full text) http://libproxy.uwyo.edu/login/?url=http://hrd.idcpublishers.info/

Index to Foreign Legal Periodicals, (access database campus wide, full text) http://libproxy.uwyo.edu/login/?url=http://heinonline.org/HOL/Index?collection=iflp&set_as_cursor=clear  

Legal Scholarship Network, http://ssrn.com/en/index.cfm/lsn/

Legislation Online, http://legislationline.org/

Refworld, http://www.refworld.org

United Nations Treaty Collection, (access database campus wide, full text) https://treaties.un.org/

"In-House" Law Reviews

Curious as to which human rights journals the library subscribes?  This list includes journals within our law reviews room on the second floor of the library (physical locations identified) as well as journals included in our HeinOnline database.  To access HeinOnline directly, visit http://libproxy.uwyo.edu/login/?url=http://heinonline.org/HOL/Welcome/.   Searching for a journal in the Law Library Catalog will directly link you to the relevant title within HeinOnline as well.

African human rights law journal
Location:          HeinOnline

Asia-Pacific journal on human rights and the law
Location:          HeinOnline

Buffalo human rights law review
Location:          HeinOnline
Location:          Law Reviews Room
Call Number:    [S-E-6]

Canadian human rights yearbook
Location:          HeinOnline

Columbia human rights law review
Location:          HeinOnline
Location:          Law Reviews Room
Call Number:    [S-W-1]

Columbia survey of human rights law
Location:          Law Reviews Room
Call Number:    [S-W-2]

The East African journal of human rights and democracy
Location:          HeinOnline

Harvard human rights journal
Location:          HeinOnline
Location:          Law Reviews Room
Call Number:    [S-W-12]

Harvard human rights yearbook
Location:          Law Reviews Room
Call Number:    [S-W-12]

Human rights
Location:          HeinOnline
Location:          Law Reviews Room
Call Number:    [S-W-14]

Human rights case digest
Location:          HeinOnline

Human rights law journal: HRLJ.
Location:          Law Reviews Room
Call Number:    [S-W-14]

Human rights law review
Location:          HeinOnline

Human rights quarterly
Location:          HeinOnline
Location:          Law Reviews Room
Call Number:    [S-W-14]

Intercultural human rights law review
Location:          HeinOnline
Location:          Law Reviews Room
Call Number:    [S-W-16]

International human rights reports
Location:          Law Reviews Room
Call Number:    [S-W-17]

New York Law School human rights annual
Location:          Law Reviews Room
Call Number:    [S-S-24]

New York Law School journal of human rights / Journal of human rights
Location:          HeinOnline
Location:          Law Reviews Room
Call Number:    [S-S-24]

Northwestern University journal of international human rights
Location:          HeinOnline

South African human rights yearbook
Location:          HeinOnline

South African journal on human rights
Location:          HeinOnline
Location:          Law Reviews Room
Call Number:    [S-S-16]

Yale human rights & development law journal
Location:          Law Reviews Room
Call Number:    [S-S-3]

Current Awareness

These current awareness websites may be useful in keeping up with international human rights issues and identifying possible paper topics.  The information may be provided in article form, RSS feed, or podcast.

AllAfrica.com, http://allafrica.com

Amnesty International Human Rights Now Blog, http://blog.amnestyusa.org/

Human Rights: The World Affairs Council Blog, http://www.worldaffairs.org/blog

Human Rights Watch, http://www.hrw.org/

Country Reports

To locate information on human rights conditions in specific countries, consider reading through country reports made available by these organizations and government bodies.

Amnesty International, Reports, http://www.amnesty.org/en/library

Annual Report of International Religious Freedom, http://www.state.gov/g/drl/irf/rpt/

Freedom House, Freedom in the World, http://www.freedomhouse.org/report-types/freedom-world

Human Rights Watch, World Report, http://www.hrw.org/node/79288 

Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, http://www.cidh.oas.org/publi.eng.htm

International Committee of the Red Cross, Annual Report, http://www.icrc.org/Web/Eng/siteeng0.nsf/htmlall/section_annual_report?OpenDocument

Trafficking in Persons Report, http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/tiprpt/

UNICEF, The State of the World's Children, http://www.unicef.org/publications/index_pubs_su.html

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Human Development Reports, http://hdr.undp.org/en/reports/

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), The State of the World's Refugees, http://www.unhcr.org/pages/49c3646c4b8.html

U.S. Department of State, County Reports, http://www.state.gov/g/drl/hr/c1470.htm

IGO's and NGO's

Inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations focusing on human rights issues may prove helpful to your research as well.   Selected organizations are listed.

IGO's:

African Union, http://www.au.int/en/

Council of Europe, http://www.coe.int/

Gateway to the European Union, http://europa.eu/index_en.htm

High Commissioner for Human Rights, http://www.ohchr.org/english/

International Labour Organization, http://www.ilo.org/

Organization of American States, http://www.oas.org/

Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, http://www.osce.org/

U.N. Human Rights Council, http://www.ohchr.org/en/hrbodies/hrc/pages/hrcindex.aspx

UNESCO, http://portal.unesco.org/en/

UNHCR: The UN Refugee Agency, http://www.unhcr.org/  

United Nations Human Rights Page, http://www.un.org/en/rights/index.shtml

NGO's:

Amnesty International, http://www.amnesty.org/

Human Rights First (formerly Lawyers Committee for Human Rights), http://www.humanrightsfirst.org

Human Rights Internet, http://www.hri.ca/

Human Rights Watch, http://www.hrw.org/

International Committee of the Red Cross, http://www.icrc.org/eng

US Human Rights Network, http://www.ushrnetwork.org/

Links to Bibliographies and Guides

A plethora of bibliographies and guides to researching human rights law is available on the web.  Save yourself time by starting with the list compiled by the University of Minnesota Human Rights Library.

University of Minnesota Human Rights Library, Bibliographies and Guides http://www1.umn.edu/humanrts/bibliog/biblios.htm

This site offers over forty guides and bibliographies, published by various institutions, linking to electronic and print resources on human rights law.  Sample resources include ASIL Guide to Electronic Resources for International Law: Human Rights, Bibliographies on Issues in Human Rights (Univ. of Calif., Berkeley Human Rights Center), Bibliography: Human Rights in the African Context, and the International Humanitarian Law Database. 

For historical research, our library does have this multi-volume bibliography.

Human rights bibliography: United Nations documents and publications, 1980-1990,
United Nations Library, Geneva, in cooperation with the Centre for Human Rights
Location: Treatise Room           Call Number:  K 3236 .H863 1993

Library Assistance

If you find a reference to a perfect resource, but our library does not offer it, let us know.  We'll do our best to purchase the resource or track it down for you using interlibrary loan.  Do note that our ILL service can take anywhere from a couple of days to a couple of weeks.

 

This guide was adapted from Georgetown Law Library's guide and is current through 4/14.

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