Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Resources for International Legal Research

For those of you who are interested in doing primary source research in international law, a great (relatively) new online resource is the Electronic Information System in International Law or "EISIL". A project of the American Society of International Law, EISIL acts as a central clearinghouse of key treaties across a broad spectrum of topics in public and private international law. (Truth in advertising disclaimer: I had been involved with beta-testing an early version of EISIL when I was Director of Research and Outreach at the ASIL.)

According to the EISIL website:

ASIL’s goal is to ensure, through EISIL, that web searchers can easily locate the highest quality primary materials, authoritative web sites and helpful research guides to international law on the Internet. To this end, EISIL has been designed as an open database of authenticated primary and other materials across the breadth of international law, which until now have been scattered in libraries, archives and specialized web sites.

EISIL’s collection covers the following topics:

General International Law
States & Groups of States
International Organizations
Inidviduals and Groups
International Air, Space & Water
International Environmental Law
International Economic Law
International Human Rights
International Criminal Law
Communications & Transport
Use of Force
International Dispute Settlement
Private International Law

This leads me to a more general concern about international legal pedagogy: that although U.S. law students may take a doctrinal course in international law, at the end of their three years of law school they still have relatively little idea how to actually research this stuff. Consider if we taught Constitutional Law, but students didn’t know how to find Supreme Court cases or Congressional statutes.

In addressing this concern, resources such as EISIL and the ASIL’s guide to Electronic Resources in International Law, as well as the other research guides that are out there (such as George Washington International Law Review's Guide to International Legal Research) , are more important than ever.


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