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Public International Law

An introductory guide to researching public international law as defined by Article 38 of the ICJ statute.


Recall that Article 38 of the ICJ statute listed "the teachings of the most highly qualified publicists of the various nations" as a subsidiary means, on the level of case law, for determining general principles of international law. These teachings are essentially scholarly works, such as law review articles and treatises. In practice they are not treated with the same authority as case law; nonetheless, they are extremely important in international law questions, particularly those where proof of customary international law or the general principles of international law is needed. A good place to start would be to search for a treatise by the topic of interest in a library catalog; if you need help, consult a reference librarian. Another good place to start is in databases that collect foreign and international scholarly work, such as those listed below.

Law Review Articles

Index to Foreign Legal Periodicals

Multilingual index to articles and book reviews published worldwide.  Covers international (public and private), comparative, and domestic law of countries other than the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia.