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International Human Rights

Human rights may be inalienable rights but they depend on State actors to enforce through laws and policies. This guide helps you research those laws and policies.



Project on International Courts and Tribunals, (last visited 6/17/2014).

HeinOnline’s Foreign & International Law Resources Database(last visited 6/17/2014)

This is another subscription database that can only be accessed from a UC computer or through UC’s virtual personal network (sslvpn). It has four parts: 1) International Yearbooks and Periodicals; 2) US Law Digests; 3) International Tribunals/Judicial decisions; 4) Other Significant Works Related to Foreign and International Law. The International/Judicial decisions include a couple of series of arbitral awards.

International Court of Justice (ICJ),  (last visited 6/17/2014)

The International Court of Justice is the judicial arm of the United Nations. It has jurisdiction over disputes between states members of the UN that consent to its jurisdiction. Although only states can bring contentious claims, international organizations may be admitted before the Court. It has an excellent web site (last visited 6/17/2014) that contains all of its published documents including:

Basic Documents, (last visited 6/17/2014);

This page includes links to the Charter of the United Nations, the Statute of the Court, Rules of Court, Practice Directions, and Other Texts.

Cases, (last visited 6/17/2014).

This page includes links to pending cases, a list of all cases, contentious cases, and advisory proceedings.


The Court of Justice of the European Union

This is the judicial arm of the EU. It adjudicates disputes that arise under any of the EU treaties. This includes cases from the national courts of the member states, cases involving the limits of the powers of the organs of the EU, requests for preliminary rulings (advisory opinions) from other organs of the EU, cases involving the legality of international agreements under the EU Treaties, and cases involving the staff of the EU. At the heart of the Court’s jurisdiction is judicial review of EU treaties, legislation, and administrative acts and review of member states’ adherence to their rules. The Court has 27 Judges and 8 Advocates General. The Judges are appointed for renewable terms of six years and elect the President of the Court from among their number. “The Court of Justice may sit as a full Court, in a Grand Chamber (13 Judges) or in chambers of three or five Judges.” (last visited 6/17/2014) The Court of Justice has a lower court, the General Court, which has its own judges and its own areas of jurisdiction. The two courts interact as needed. A decision may be appealed from the General Court to the Court of Justice and it may affirm, overturn, or remand that decision back to the General Court. The two Courts may have separate cases that have the same parties and depend on the same facts, but deal with different legal issues. The Court of Justice may refer a case that was originally, but mistakenly, brought to it to the General Court.


The Court (last visited 6/17/2014) has an excellent website, which contains the following:

Search for a Case(last visited 6/17/2014) 

Scroll down for the most recent opinions of the European Court and the General Court.

Court of Justice Procedure, (last visited 6/17/2014) 

General Court Procedure(last visited 6/17/2014)

Case Law Search(last visited 6/17/2014)

Content of the Database (last visited 6/17/2014)

Digest of the Case-Law(last visited 6/17/2014)

Alphabetical Table of Subject Matter, (last visited 6/17/2014)

Annotation of Judgments(last visited 6/17/2014)

EUR-Lex(last visited 6/17/2014)

The Official Journal of the EU is the source of most documents in EUR-Lex, which contains legislation, international agreements, preparatory acts and parliamentary questions as well as the judgments of the European Court of Justice and of the Court of First Instance, the opinions of the Advocates-General, the Commission documents, the collection of consolidated legislative texts and the texts of the Treaties of the European Communities and later the European Union. EUR-Lex’s “...includes some 467000 references in several languages,[and] 2815000 texts in total.” (last visited 6/17/2014) The oldest documents go back to the founding of the European Coal and Steel Community in 1951.


Court of Justice of the European Communities, Reports of Cases before the Court (1983-98). Location: LAW Stacks KJE924.5 .R47.

Neville Brown & Tom Kennedy, The Court of Justice of the European Communities (5th ed., 2000). Location: LAW Stacks KJE5461 .B76 2000.

This is an excellent, comprehensive description of all aspects of the Court’s organization and operation.

European Free Trade Association Court(last visited 6/17/2014) 

The EFTA performs a function similar to that of the EU for the states that were left out of the EU: Iceland, Norway, Lichtenstein, and Switzerland. Its Court performs functions similar to that of the ECJ. It began its work, which is the interpretation and application of the European Economic Area Agreement, in 1994. The horizontal bar just below the banner lists the major divisions of their website: Court, Cases, News, Contact and Links. The section on the Court includes an introduction, ESA/Court Agreement, members – staff, procedures, and publications. The ESA is the European Surveillance Authority. It appears to be something like a department of justice. It appears to act in some ways as an administrative agency that can issue decisions and guidelines, make recommendations, and encourage cooperation and the sharing of information. Cases is a list of all the cases including both pending and decided of the Court. Each entry for decided cases includes the judgment of the court and the report of the hearing.


There are a number of courts of regional organizations in Africa, but only the African Court of Justice has built up a significant jurisprudence. The first of the two items listed below is a guide to all of the international courts in African; the second is for the African Court of Justice.

African International Courts & Tribunals(last visited 6/17/2014) 

This organization is part of the Project on International Courts & Tribunals discussed at the very beginning of this guide.

The African Court of Justice

This court is the judicial arm of the African Union. It has both contentious and advisory jurisdiction over the interpretation and application of the Constitutive Act of the Union; issues of international law; disputes that arise under treaties and subsidiary legal instruments adopted under the Unions auspices; disputes that concern any of the Union’s organs; disputes that arise under any other agreements that States Parties may conclude among themselves or with the Union and which confer jurisdiction on the Court; any breach of an obligation owed to a State Party or to the Union; disputes concerning the nature or extent of the reparation to be made for the breach of an obligation. Cases can be submitted by “(a) States Parties to this Protocol; (b) The Assembly, the Parliament and other organs of the Union authorised by the Assembly; (c) The Commission or a member of staff of the Commission in a dispute between them within the limits and under the conditions laid down in the Staff Rules and Regulations of the Union; (d) Third Parties under conditions to be determined by the Assembly and with the consent of the State Party concerned.” Art. 18, Protocol Of The Court Of Justice Of The African Union, [6] (last visited 6/17/2014) 

Latin America

Organization of American States

The OAS has no court of general jurisdiction. Members of the OAS are obligated to use pacific means of settlement first, submission of a dispute to the ICJ, and finally submission to the UN Security Council. Any peaceful method of dispute settlement on which the parties agree may be used regardless of the priorities of the Organization. OAS dispute settlement is governed by the American Treaty on Pacific Settlement "Pact Of Bogotá" April 30, 1948 (last visited 6/17/2014). It recognizes the following means of settlement: good offices; mediation; investigation; conciliation; and judicial procedure including arbitration. All states parties to this treaty accept the compulsory jurisdiction of the ICJ. It is in force for 15 out of 35 states. The OAS has also formalized cooperation among its members through treaties that cover areas such as criminal law, evidence, sentences, extradition, economic development, and international commercial arbitration.

The Court of Justice of the Andean Community (Tribunal de Justicia de la Comunidad Andina (TJAC)), (last visited 6/17/2014)

Central American Court of Justice (CACJ), Corte Centroamericana de Justicia (CCJ), (last visited 6/17/2014)

This Court is an organ of the Central American Integration System (SICA), (last visited 6/17/2014)

2 Id., at 379

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