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Pritzker Legal Research Center


International Legal Research Guide

An overview of international law and where to begin research

International Court of Justice and Permanent Court of International Justice

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations. The ICJ replaced the Permanent Court of International Justice (PCIJ) in 1946. 

Decisions and Pleadings

Case materials are published in Reports of Judgments, Advisory Opinions and Orders (I.C.J.) and Pleadings, Oral Arguments, Documents (I.C.J. Pleadings). 

Permanent Court of International Justice decisions and documents were published in seven series (P.C.I.J.).

Court Rules and Acts

ICJ court rules and acts are published in Acts and Documents Concerning the Organization of the Court. PCIJ court rules and acts were published in P.C.I.J. (see links above). No. 6 is the latest issue in the series.

Unpublished and Online Materials

Citations to unpublished ICJ materials can be made to International Legal Materials (I.L.M.) or to the ICJ website. ​

European Union Courts

The Court of Justice of the European Union (formed in 1952) interprets EU law to ensure that it is applied the same way in all EU countries and ensures that countries and EU institutions abide by EU law. The CJEU consists of the Court of Justice (European Court of Justice - ECJ), the General Court, and the Civil Service Tribunal. The CJEU was formerly the Court of Justice of the European Communities.

Official Reports (E.C.R.):

Citations for pre-1990 cases should be to the Reports of Cases Before the Court of Justice of the European Communities. Citations for post-1990 cases should be to the Reports of Cases Before the Court of Justice and the Court of First Instance

Official Court of Justice of the European Union website:

If an official report is not available, citations to the official website of the Court of the European Union, an electronic database, or private service are permitted. CURIA is the official website for the Court of the European Union.

  • CURIA [coverage: 1953– ]

European Court of Human Rights

The European Court of Human Rights (founded in 1959) rules on individual and State applications alleging violations of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Cases should be cited to the European Court of Human Rights, Reports of Judgments and Decisions (Eur. Ct. H.R.).

Older decisions may be cited to Publications of the European Court of Human Rights or Yearbook of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Cases heard before the now-defunct European Commission on Human Rights until 1999 can be cited to the Collection of Decisions of the European Commission on Human Rights, if therein, or otherwise to the European Human Rights Reports

If a case is not available in print, an unofficial print source or the Court's official website can be cited. HUDOC is the official database that provides access to case law of the ECHR. 

  • HUDOC (Court's official website) 

Inter-American Commission on Human Rights

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (created in 1959) is an organ of the Organization of American States, comprised of seven independent members.

Cases should be cited to the Annual Report of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights

If an official report is not yet available, the Commission's official website can be cited.

Inter-American Court of Human Rights

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights (established in 1979) is the judicial organ of the Inter-American human rights system, which is composed of the Commission and the Court. 

Cases should be cited to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, Decisions and Judgments. Advisory opinions should be cited to Series A, contentious cases should be cited to Series C, and Provisional Measures should be cited to Series E. 

Official online sources may also be cited. 

International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea

The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (established in 1982 and entered into force in 1994) is an independent judicial body established by the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. 

Cases should be cited to the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea Reports of Judgments, Advisory Opinions and Orders.

If print reports are unavailable, citations to the Tribunal's official website are acceptable. 

International Criminal Court & International Criminal Tribunals

International Criminal Court: The International Criminal Court (entered into force in 2002) investigates and prosecutes individuals charged with genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. Cases can be found on the ICC's official website. 

International Criminal Tribunals: Most cases can be found on the official websites. Below are links to the official sites for international criminal tribunals.

The ICC Legal Tools Database is a great resource for finding documents from the ICC and international criminal tribunals.