UNRIC Backgrounders

The United Nations Regional Information Centre for Western Europe Backgrounders are a great resource for locating UN documents and sites covering international law topics and selected countries
These guides provide links to treaties, UN resolutions, UN press releases, UN reports and UN Web sites. Many thanks to the UNRIC Library staff for posting these useful guides online.

UNRIC Library Backgrounders


Backgrounders are available for the following countries:
Democratic People’s Republic of Korea
South Sudan
Sri Lanka

Backgrounders are available for the following topics:
Climate Change
Educational Resources
Food Waste
Global Food Crisis
Human Rights
Human Rights Council
Middle East
Millennium Development Goals
Nuclear Disarmament
Nuclear Non-Proliferation
Participation of the European Union in the work of the United Nations
Peacebuilding Commission
Protection of civilians in armed conflict
Responsibility to Protect (R2P)
Sustainable Development

Talk by Ambassador Eileen Chamberlain Donohoe at SLS

Eileen Chamberlain Donohoe, the U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations Human Rights Council, spoke this afternoon at Stanford Law School. She articulated five goals for the U.S.  in the upcoming years at the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

1. Improve the Council’s ability to respond in real time to human rights emergencies, including taking preventative measures.

2. Support victims of human rights abuses.

3. Promote a more diverse mix of issues that are addressed by the Council.

4. Lower resistance to investigations of violations committed by individual countries.

5. Promote human rights defenders in all jurisdictions.


Anton’s Weekly Digest of International Law Scholarship

Looks like Prof. Don Anton’s round-up of international law publications will be a useful and timely resource.

Don Anton is a professor of international law at the Australian National  University College of Law.

Anton’s Weekly Digest of International Law Scholarship


Table of Contents of the latest issue:

I. SSRN Legal Scholarship Network & bepress Legal Repository

II. Books

III. Law Journals

IV. Blogs/News Papers (Select Entries)

V. Gray Literature

VI. Documents


Bringing Fairness to International Justice: a Handbook on the International Criminal Court for Defense Lawyers in Africa

Bringing Fairness to International Justice: a Handbook on the International Criminal Court for Defense Lawyers in Africa

Jolyon Ford

Pretoria (Tshwane),: Institute for Security Studies, 2009


From the Introduction:

Consider the following six brief and related statements:


1. Impunity and inaction in response to the most serious crimes of concern to the

international community represent a failure to meet human rights principles,

to respect victims, and to deal with issues affecting future peace.


2.A global consensus exists on the need to provide an acceptable, principled

international criminal justice system as a means to deal with perpetrators of

international crimes: that consensus is reflected in the Rome Statute of the



3.The ICC is only likely to be perceived as just, effective, legitimate and

sustainable to the extent that it is fair in its treatment of those brought before



4. Representation by a competent independent legal defence counsel is, in turn,

considered indispensible to fair investigations and trials in the ICC and other

international criminal tribunals.


5.The role of the defence lawyer in ensuring systematic fairness in international

justice deserves more attention generally.


6.There is, in particular, an ongoing need for more awareness raising and

capacity building in order to enable African lawyers to engage in the work of

the ICC in general and in Africa, including by acting as defence counsel or



This handbook explores some of the issues raised in these statements with a view

to increasing African lawyers’ understanding of, and engagement, with the ICC

and its processes and in particular the role of defence counsel, in order to help

bring fairness to international justice.


United Nations Databases and Web Sites for Legal Research and Education

United Nations Databases and Web Sites for Legal Research and Education

Steven Robert Miller   (Indian Univ. Law Library)

Res Gestae, The Journal of the Indiana State Bar Association

Vol.54 # 3 , pp.12-20 (October 2010)

Nice article providing an introduction to major UN databases, such as UNTS, UN-I-QUE, and the UN AudioVisual Library of International Law,  ASIL’s ILEX database of U.S. cases, and IALS’s FLARE index of Treaties.  All web sites are free.

Hat tip to Paul

Conference on International Humanitarian Law

40th Anniversary of the International Institute of Humanitarian Law

Round Table on “Global Violence: Consequences and Responses”

San Remo, Italy

September 9-11, 2010


Conference Sessions:

I. Contemporary Forms of Armed Violence: International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights Law at a Crossroad.

II. Deprivation of Liberty in Armed Conflict and Other Situations of Violence.

III. Individual Guarantees in Detention.

Panelists include international judges, military officers, UN officials, ICRC officials, academics, NGO representatives, and government ministers.

Argentine Digital Library of Treaties

Argentina’s Ministry of Foreign Relations has produced a Digital Library of Argentina Treaties from 1811. The treaties are available in PDF format. The database includes historical documents, bilateral and multilateral treaties, and inter-institutional agreements.  They can be searched by title, citation, date, subject, country, and signatory. Currently, it is not possible to search by keyword across all agreements.  This treaty database will be useful to historians and legal researchers. The search interface is exclusively in Spanish.

Argentine Digital Library of Treaties (Biblioteca Digital de Tratados)


From the press release:

In honor of the bicentenary of Argentina’s independence, the Foreign Ministry has created a website with some 10,000 historical documents that can be copied, downloaded, printed or sent via e-mail.
Cabinet Chief of the Chancellery of Argentina, Alberto D’Alotto, officially launched the new portal that provides copies of international treaties and national historical documents that can be downloaded by citizens who require it.

The Digital Library of Treaties took about five years of work. It includes a total of 10,000 documents, including bilateral, multilateral, and historical documents (international and national). 

Many of the documents are scanned and can be viewed in their original form with signatures, for example, by Domingo Faustino Sarmiento, Juan Bautista Alberdi, Tomás Guido, Rufino de Elizalde, Carlos Tejedor, Bernardo de Irigoyen and Roque Saenz Peña.

Global Human Rights Index Proposal

Britain’s Green Party has released a proposal for a UN Global Human Rights Index that would annually evaluate all countries.

Proposed UN Global Human Rights Index


From the executive summary:

The Green Party of England and Wales is proposing that the UN establish a Global Human Rights Index (GloHRI), which would measure and rank each country according to its conformity with international human rights standards.

Using an objective points system, GloHRI would measure every country, based on its compliance with a check-list of agreed human rights norms, such as whether or not it has the death penalty, detention without trial, freedom of the media, the right to protest, equal rights for women and minorities and so on.

This simple, accessible index would enable objective comparisons between the human rights records of different countries, and permit the identification of whether each individual country’s human rights record was, year-on-year, improving or deteriorating.

Published annually, GloHRI would document where each state upholds or violates human rights; providing an incentive for all nations to improve their human rights record and ranking.

Guide to International Human Rights Mechanisms

The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission maintains an online copy of  “Making the Mountain Move: An Activist’s Guide to How International Human Rights Mechanisms Can Work for You.”  This guide provides information on the UN Treaty Based Human Rights bodies, Inter-American Human Rights system, African Union, and the European Court of Human Rights.

Making the Mountain Move: An Activist’s Guide to How International Human Rights Mechanisms Can Work for You.


Squire Law Library’s Eminent Scholars Archive

Cambridge University’s Squire Law Library maintains an oral history archive of interviews with prominent international law scholars and practitioners.  The site includes audio files and transcripts of the interviews. 

Interviewees include:

Judge Stephen Schwebel

Professor Elihu Lauterpacht

Professor Derek Bowett

Professor Martti Koskenniemi

Many thanks to the folks at the Squire Law Library for creating and maintaining this resource that brings personal and historical perspectives to the discipline of international law.

Eminent Scholars Archive