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Pritzker Legal Research Center

International Legal Research Guide

An overview of international law and where to begin research


Your research may require you to find background or historical information about the drafting of the treaty, how the treaty was implemented in a country, or how the treaty has been interpreted by a country's courts. 

Travaux Préparatoires

Travaux préparatoires ("preparatory works) are official documents about the negotiations, discussions, and drafting of the treaty. To find this material,  search NUSearch using the name of the treaty and "trauvaux," "history," or "commentary" to see if someone has already compiled a drafting history. Another tactic is to visit the website of the sponsoring organization for the treaty or the conference where the treaty was drafted. 

Treaty Implementation and Interpretation

Self-executing treaties do not require implementing legislation and thus become effective as domestic law upon entry into force. Non-self-executing treaties require implementing legislation, which may take the form of a new law in that country or modifications to an existing law in that country. Implementing legislation can be found by researching the foreign law. Domestic cases will provide insight into how treaties have been implemented or interpreted by a country. To find case law and legislation from other countries, use one of the below research guides for the country of interest to identify the relevant sources of law and where to find them.