A New Course in International Law Research Will Be Offered in the Spring Term

Professor Butler, a reference librarian on the law school library staff, will offer a new one credit course in international law research in the spring term. This course is specifically designed for students taking courses in international and foreign and comparative law at the school, participating in the Jessup International Moot Court and International Commercial Arbitration Moot Court Competitions, as well students writing articles on international law topics for the law school’s law journals.   The course would also be of interest to any students interested in international law practice.

The class will introduce students to concepts and skills used in international and foreign legal research.  Students will learn basic concepts of legal research, research strategies, evaluation of materials in various formats, and search techniques for effective use of electronic sources.  Both primary and secondary materials will be considered in various formats.  Topics include public international law, foreign and comparative law, private international law, the European Union, the United Nations, and other international organizations.  In addition, the course will explore resources and research strategies for international human rights, international environmental law, international trade and arbitration, and family law as an international topic.

Techniques for locating bilateral and multilateral treaties and customary international law will be explored in detail. The documentation of international organizations, chiefly the United Nations and European Union, and research strategies for locating such documents, will be considered.

Each class will include exercises that will allow the students to use and evaluate the various sources being considered in the class.  Grading will be bases on a final research guide on an international law topic or an international organization.

Written by A. Hays Butler.


The UN Treaty Collection






Researching international law, including the treaties between nations, can be intimidating.  Treaty research requires you to use specialized terminology and parse through layers of drafting, approval, ratification, and other legal concepts that don’t translate directly from research within a single jurisdiction.

Fortunately, there are some excellent tools to help you access primary treaty sources.  One of these, the United Nations Treaty Collection, is a free and open-access source of treaty information.  Article 102 of the United Nations Charter requires that the Secretariat register and publish all treaties and agreements entered into by member states.  The United Nations Treaty Collection offers downloadable versions of all agreements and ratification status, organized to help you make sense of different areas of international law.

Within the United Nations Treaty Collection, there are two treaty databases.  The MTDSG database contains all multilateral treaties deposited with the UN Secretary General (plus all of those treaties previously deposited with the League of Nations); the UNTS database contains bilateral and multilateral treaties registered with and published by the UN Secretariat.  You can search or browse the collections to find agreements by topic, participating nations, date of entry, and other criteria.  The database contains key dates and member-state ratification information, as well as full-text copies of each treaty.  There is also a Cumulative Index, which allows researchers to search treatise chronologically or by subject matter.  It also includes helpful definitions of treaty terminology and a glossary of treaty actions.

You can find a link to the United Nations Treaty Collection on our Research Resources page.

Written by Genevieve Tung.

Treaty Research with Flare

The Institute of Advanced Legal Studies has released a new treaty index, the Flare Index to Treaties (FIT). FIT is searchable by any of the following: key words from the title of the treaty; additional keywords relevant to the subject matter; the date on which the treaty was concluded; and the place where the treaty was concluded. For example, a free text search for genocide will take you to the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide. When you click on the Convention, you will discover that the treaty was concluded on 9/12/1967 in New York and is published at 78 U.N.T.S. 777. There are also several links that will take you to the full text of the treaty. For more resources related to treaty research, see the Rutgers International Resources page.