PIL Research Guide

Table of contents:

1 International conventions (ICJ art. 38 no 1 lit a)

a. Determine if there exists an international instrument that may apply to a particular issue

United Nations Treaty Series (UNTS)

  1. Enter keywords describing the issue
  2. Click "Search", evaluate results

Council of Europe Treaty Office

  1. Choose a topic/area
  2. Click "submit" to see treaties and protocols relating to this subject

Norwegian Treaties

  1. Choose between search in title "I tittel" (only in Norwegian) and search in text "I teksten" (If you dont´t have the Norwegian title)
  2. Enter a word from the title in the field "Søk i Norges traktater"
  3. Click "Søk", evaluate results

b. Find the instrument in the authoritative source (taking account of language and resources available)

United Nations Treaty Series (UNTS)

  1. Search by a word in the title
  2. Click "See Details"
  3. Find official version through the link "Volume In Pdf"

Council of Europe Treaty Office

  1. Find the treaty or protocol in the list (use Ctrl + F to search)
  2. Click on the title
  3. Click on one of the flags by "Official Texts"

c. Determine if the instrument is applicable

I. Entry into force
II. Parties, ratifications and signatures
III. Declarations and reservations
IV. Determine if the instrument has been modified since adoption

United Nations Treaty Series (UNTS)

  1. Search by a word in the title
  2. Click "See Details"
  3. Find status, entry into force for states in the table at the bottom of the page
  4. Find any declarations and  reservations by clicking on the relevant state at the bottom of the page

Council of Europe Treaty Office

  1. Find the treaty or protocol in the list (use Ctrl + F to search)
  2. Click on the title
  3. Click on "Signatures and ratifications" or "Reservations and declarations"

d. Clarify meaning and intent through background documents (travaux préparatoires)

Check if travaux préparatoires have been compiled for the treaty

  1. General web search
  2. Collected Travaux Préparatoires at Yale
  3. UN Human Rights Treaties - Travaux Préparatoires at University of Virginia

  4. The Historical Archives section of the Audiovisual Library of International Law
  5. Travaux Préparatoires in the United Nations Official Document System (ODS)

e. Cite the instrument in an authoritative source 

Chicago Manual of Style requires the following format:

  • Official title, Parties, Signature date, Reference to authoritative text.
  • International Convention against doping in sport, multilateral, Oct. 19, 2005, UNTS vol. 2419 p. 201.
  • Treaty on the limitation of anti-ballistic missile systems, USSR and USA, May 26, 1972, UNTS vol. 944 p. 13.

2 International custom (ICJ art. 38 no 1 lit b)

a. Find evidence of state practice

I. Records of a state's foreign relations and diplomatic practices

Norwegian state practice:

Practice of other states:

Digest of United States Practice in International Law

II. Legislation concerning a country's international obligations


  1. Go to Lovdata Pro [subscription only]
  2. Search by topic in Norwegian:

Lov 19. jun 1947 Nr. 5 om internasjonale organisasjoner mv
Samarbeidsavtale 23. mars 1962 mellom Norge, Danmark, Finland, Island og Sverige [Helsingforsavtalen]
Lov 7. jun 1968 Nr. 4 om vedtak i FNs Sikkerhetsråd
Lov 13. jun 1969 Nr. 38 om oppskyting i verdensrommet
Lov 19. des 1969 Nr. 75 om gjennomføring av nordiske konvensjoner
Lov 17. des 1976 Nr. 91 om økonomiske soner
Lov 6. jun 1980 Nr. 18 om sanksjoner mot Iran
Lov 11. mar 1983 Nr. 8 om reingjerder mellom Norge og Finland
Lov 3. mai 1985 Nr. 24 om avtale mellom Norge og Kina
Lov 6. mai 1994 Nr. 10 om konvensjon om kjemiske våpen
Lov 24. jun 1994 Nr. 38 om krigsforbryterdomstol, Jugoslavia m m
Lov 13. jun 1997 Nr. 47 om europarådsavtale om handel med narkotika
Lov 18. jun 1999 Nr. 40 om traktat mot kjernefysiske prøvesprengingar
Lov 25. jun 1999 Nr. 43 om særlige tiltak mot Jugoslavia
Lov 27. apr 2001 Nr. 14 om sanksjoner
Lov 15. jun 2001 Nr. 65 om gjennomføring av Roma-vedtektene
Lov 27. jun 2003 Nr. 58 om særlige tiltak mot Zimbabwe
Lov 4. sep 2015 Nr. 85 om Haagkonvensjonen 1996

b. Find practice of intergovernmental organizations

I. UN Security Council
II. UN General Assembly

  1. Go to United Nations Official Document System
  2. In the field "Keyword Search", search with keywords or document symbols (see format examples below)
  3. Security Council Resolution No. 1910 = S/RES/1910
    Resolution from Generalforsamlingsresolusjon nr 3068 = A/RES/3068
    Generalforsamlingsresolusjon nr 48/114 = A/RES/48/114

c. United Nations human rights committees and other relevant intergovernmental organizations

UN human rights bodies:

Country specific information:

d. Find and cite international custom in an authoritative source if available

 The Law Library recommends the following format:

  • Organ reference (year) Title. URL
  • Security Council resolution S/RES/2029 (2011)  International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). http://www.un.org/en/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=S/RES/2029(2011) 
  • General Assembly resolution A/RES/38/16 (1983) Universal realization of the right of peoples to self-determination. http://www.un.org/documents/ga/res/38/a38r016.htm
  • General Assembly resolution A/RES/67/262 (2013) The situation in the Syrian Arab Republic. http://www.un.org/en/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=A/RES/67/262
  • Committee against Torture. General comment CAT/C/GC/3 (2012) Implementation of article 14 by States parties. http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cat/docs/GC/CAT-C-GC-3_en.pdf


3 General principles of law (ICJ art. 38 no 1 lit c)

Understand the types of rules that may constitute general principles of law. This concept is vague and there are several different interpretations in legal theory. These principles include principles of international law, principles of national law and rules of legal logic.

Rules that have been claimed as general principles of law include:

  • a right to self preservation,
  • equity
  • state liability
  • state responsibility and reparations for illegal actions
  • respect for property rights
  • good faith
  • pacta sunt servanda
  • procedural principles

What evidence is required to claim a rule as a general principle of law? What arguments can be made for and against considering protection of the environment as a general principle of law?


4 Judicial decisions (ICJ art. 38 no 1 lit d)

a. Find relevant decisions of international tribunals

I. International Court of Justice (ICJ)

  1. List of All Cases
  2. Find the relevant case by year of conclusion, year of introduction or searching the page (Ctrl + F)
  3. Click on the case title to get an overview of the case and other case details
  4. Click on "Judgments" in the right hand menu to find the full text of the judgement, and also declarations, separate and dissenting opinions

II. International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS)

  1. List of All Cases
  2. Find the relevant case by searching the page (Ctrl + F)
  3. Click on the case title to see the details including judgements

III. International Criminal Court (ICC)

  1. List of All Cases
  2. Find the relevant case by defendant, using the filters on left hand side, i.e. act of crime,or searching the page (Ctrl + F)
  3. Click on the defendants name to see case details

IV. World Trade Organization Appellate Body (WTO AB)

  1. Appellate Body Reports
  2. Find the relevant case by searching the page (Ctrl + F)
  3. Click on the case number to see the details
  4. See the findings by clicking on "Summary of key findings" or "Just the findings and conclusions in pdf format"

V. Other international and regional courts and tribunals

European Court of Human Rights 

  1. Go to HUDOC (around 17 500 cases available)
  2. Limit the search scope by choosing facets in the left column, for instance language, respondent state and relevant article
  3. Use the search box on the top of the page to search

    Inter-American Court of Human Rights 

    1. Go to Jurisprudence Finder
    2. Search in Spanish in the using the search box
    3. Click on "See Technical data of the case" or "See file of the case"

    b. Find court decisions of an individual state concerning their international obligations


    1. Go to LovdataPro [subscription only]
    2. Click on "Avansert søk"
    3. Choose "Rettsavgjørelser", for instance 
      "Alle sivile avgjørelser (SIV)" og "Alle strafferettslige avgjørelser (STR)"
    4. Search by topic in Norwegian or by "Lovhenvisning":

    ECHR art. 8: "lov-1999-05-21-30-emkn-a8"
    CCPR art. 14: "lov-1999-05-21-30-spn-a14"
    CESCR art. 8: "lov-1999-05-21-30-oskn-a8"
    CRC: "lov-1999-05-21-30-bkn*"
    CEDAW: "lov-1999-05-21-30-kdkn*"

    Australia, Canada, European Union, Hong Kong, Korea and United Kingdom:

    1. Go to Westlaw  [subscription only]
    2. Click on "Cases" under "Content Types"
    3. Click on the relevant jurisdiction
    4. Search with keywords in the search box at the top of the page

    c. Find and cite a judicial decision in an authoritative source

    • Rt 2007 s. 1308 para. 42
    • HR-2006-00682-A
    • RG 1957 s. 499 (Eidsivating)
    • LA-2005-184543
    • Democratic Republic of the Congo v. Belgium. International Court of Justice, The Hague, 14. februar 2002.
    • Vidal v. Belgium. Publications of the European Court of Human Rights, Series A vol. 235, s.93. 

    5 Teachings of the most highly qualified publicists (ICJ art. 38 no 1 lit d)

    a. Find relevant writings of legal scholars

    I. Treatises

    1. Go to the University of Oslo library catalogue
    2. Enter a search term in the search field, click "søk"
    3. Limit your search to specific types of sources by using the facets in the left column

    II. Periodicals

    III. Publications of regional international law associations


    b. Cite writings of legal scholars correctly

    Citation guidelines from the Faculty of Law Library can be found here.


    Publisert 19. aug. 2019 08:44 - Sist endret 24. feb. 2020 10:49