Skip to Main Content

International Legal Research: International Human Rights Cases

This Guide covers essential print and electronic resources for researching international and foreign law.

International Criminal Tribunals & Decisions

International human rights law includes the jurisprudence of international courts (i.e. ICJ and ECHR) and other international bodies with quasi-judicial properties (i.e. HRC and IACHR). International criminal law is closely related to international human rights law. As discussed under the Development of International Human Rights Law, the international human rights system has traditionally focused on holding states internationally responsible for human rights violations. Under international criminal law, individuals can be held responsible for violations of international criminal law.

International Criminal Court

Unlike the ICTY and ICTR and earlier Nuremberg and Tokyo War Crimes tribunals which were established to to try crimes committed only within a specific time frame and relating to a specific conflict, the International Criminal Court (ICC) is the first permanent, treaty based, international criminal court. The ICC was established under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, 37 I.L.M. 1002 (1998), 2187 U.N.T.S. 90. The Rome Statute entered into force in 2002 after ratification by 60 countries.

The ICC is an independent international organisation. It is not part of the United Nations system. Its seat is at The Hague in the Netherlands. Although the Court’s expenses are funded primarily by States Parties, it also receives voluntary contributions from governments, international organisations, individuals, corporations and other entities.

Special Criminal Courts

A number of special criminal courts have been established to deal with specific situations during a limited period of time. The decisions of these courts are another source of international criminal law and international human rights law. The decisions can be located at the websites of the courts themselves. In addition, find the scope of jurisdiction, treaty authority, procedural requirements and practice rules at these websites.

In addition, Westaw provides access to decisions of the ICTY and the ICTR via International Materials > Other International Jurisdictions.


Decisions from International Human Rights Courts and Commissions

The wide range of possible sources for international human rights case law means that there is no place to find all these cases together. Hoffman & Rumsey at 218. However, one print source comes close. The International Human Rights Reports (IHRR), K3239.23 .I58 are edited and published by the Nottingham Human Rights Law Centre. They include decisions of the U.N. Human Rights Committee, the U.N. Torture Committee, the Inter- American Court of Human Rights and the African Commission of Human and Peoples' Rights.


The IHRR set contains cumulative and annual indexes. To find the most recent cases, it is often easiest simply to browse the cover page of the most recent IHRR issues.

International Legal Materials (ILM) discussed under the Treaties tab as an unofficial source for World Treaties is also a source of selected international human rights and criminal law decisions.

As described earlier under Court Decisions, the Hague Justice Portal gathers public international law cases, including human rights and international criminal law decisions from courts located in the Hague.