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Pritzker Legal Research Center

International Human Rights Law Research


Start your research by consulting a few secondary sources (e.g., books, journal articles) to familiarize yourself with your topic and identify the relevant sources of international law. Use a research guide to assist you with identifying resources where you can find and retrieve the sources of law. 


Start your search for books by using NUsearch, the library catalog for Northwestern University, to see what books we have available in the campus library system. If you need additional books or if you are looking for a particular title that we don't own, you can search for the item in WorldCat and submit an interlibrary request for it. 

For international law e-books, see the Oxford Scholarly Authorities on International Law. This resource provides electronic access to commentaries, scholarly works, and books on international law topics, including human rights law. A full list of the titles included in this collection is available here


Encyclopedia entries provide quick, surface-level overviews of topics. Most encyclopedia entries include a bibliography to relevant sources of international law or other secondary sources. See below for links to electronic encyclopedias on international law.

Journal Articles

Journal articles can be found through various subscription databases or in print. Articles on international law topics may be published in law or law-related journals as well as in multidisciplinary journals. You can search for the title of the publication in NUsearch to see whether you can access it through an electronic database or can find it in print at one of our campus libraries. 

NGO, IGO, and Governmental Publications

Publications and reports from non-governmental organizations (NGOs), intergovernmental organizations (IGOs), and state governments are useful sources to help you understand international law topics and situations in specific countries. Examples of NGOs include Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International. Examples of IGOs include the United Nations or the African Union.  

Google Advanced allows you to run targeted searches across regular Google and limit your results to certain file types (e.g., .pdf) and/or search across a particular website (e.g., or domain (e.g., .edu, .org, .gov). The .int domain is reserved for international treaty-based organizations, UN agencies, and organizations or entities with observer status at the UN. The .org domain is often used by non-profit organizations, but can now be used by anyone. Using Google Advanced is particularly helpful when searching across government or NGO websites because these type of websites often lack great search functions.


If you need recommendations for secondary sources, an annotated bibliography can help you easily identify where to start first. 

Research Guides

Research guides frequently include a bibliography of recommended secondary sources.