LRW Sec. 3 - Int'l and Foreign ResearchPresentation Transcript
International & Foreign Legal Research Legal Research & Writing Section 3 Spring 2005
Public International Law
Governs relationships between national governments, relationships between intergovernmental organizations, and relationships between national governments and intergovernmental organizations.
It regulates governments and intergovernmental organizations across national boundaries.
Private International Law
Governs the choice of law when there are conflicts in the municipal law of different countries related to private transactions.
Private international law deals with topics such as contracts, marriage and divorce, jurisdiction, recognition of judgments, child adoption and child abduction.
Foreign law is essentially national law such as constitutions, statutes, regulations, and court decisions.
It does not have effect outside the national boundaries, but it may regulate foreign entities
Court decisions are not always primary law.
Also called conventions, pacts, covenants, charters, executive agreements, protocols, accords, declarations, etc, or by a city name.
Three needs: text, status, and is it in force yet?
The IFs of treaty research – if it is multilateral or bilateral, if it is recent, if the US is a party to the agreement, or if the US is not a party to the treaty.
Treaties: Finding Aids
Treaties In Force (TIF) is an annual State Department publication that lists all US treaties and agreements in force arranged by country and subject. Usually provides citations to United States Treaties and Other International Agreements (UST) or Treaties and Other International Acts (TIAS). Available on Lexis with links to treaty text when possible and on Westlaw. Also on the web .
Multilateral Treaty Calendar is a comprehensive resource listing treaties in chronological order. Note that the ratification information is out of date.
Westlaw (USTREATIES) and Lexis (International Law).
International Legal Materials in print and online.
Research Databases: TIARA – contains 12000 treaties back to 1783. United Nations Treaty Collection – contains status & treaty information, some full-text.
US Treaties: Congressional Docs.
Senate Treaty Documents are part of the United States Congressional Serial Set . Also on the web , but only from 104th Congress as well as Westlaw & Lexis. These contain the treaty text submitted by the executive branch to the Senate for “advice and consent” together with supporting documentation. For recent treaties, the Senate Treaty Document may be your only source for the treaty text . Pre-1979, these documents were called Senate Executive Documents.
Senate Executive Reports are issued by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and contain the committee’s analysis and recommendations on a proposed treaty. These reports are in the Serial Set print and on the web since the 104th Congress.
Most US international agreements do not follow the traditional “advice and consent” route of going to the Senate for ratification. They are usually considered executive agreements and will not have the treaty documents above
Treaties: Full Text
United States Treaties and Other International Agreements (UST) – annual bound collection of TIAS pamphlets (Treaties and Other International Agreements). It is the current official collection. Publication often delayed about 20 years.
United Nations Treaty Series (UNTS) - contains all treaties deposited with the United Nations. Also available electronically (GULC Only).
HeinOnline – Impressive image collection of official and unofficial treaty sources including older treaty series dating back to 1776. There are also guides, indexes, other materials.
Westlaw – full texts of treaties and international agreements from mid-1979 to present. Senate Treaty Documents from the 103rd Congress.
Lexis – full text of treaties and international agreements from 1783 to present. Also includes some Senate Treaty Documents.
International Legal Materials – respected journal published by the American Society of International Law. Good place for recent agreements. Available in print, HeinOnline, Westlaw, and Lexis.
Foreign Law: Basics
Understand the structure of the foreign legal system – is it a civil law country or a common law system? Perhaps mixed?
What do you need – constitution, a statute, a citation. Full text or summary? In English?
What are the sources of law for the country? Does the country publish codes, statutes or reporters?
Consider reading a research guide on the topic or the country.
English language sources are usually the most sought after, but they must be used with caution. Most English translations are not official or authoritative, may not be up-to-date, and the quality may be an issue. Sometimes, you will have to rely on periodical literature for the text or summary. For some subject areas, such as taxation, commercial or business law, there are commercial compilations available. Court decisions and administrative law can be very difficult to locate in English. The following resource is a great starting point:
Foreign Law: Current Sources of Codes and Basic Legislation in Jurisdictions of the World , T. Reynolds & A. Flores [K38 .R49 1989 Intl Ref] Also available electronically under Research Databases (GULC only) on our website.