Start your research by consulting some secondary sources, such as books or journal articles, to familiarize yourself with your topic and identify the relevant sources of international law, then use this research guide to assist you with finding the sources of law.
Use NUsearch to search for books available through the Northwestern Libraries system. Search by keyword (e.g., women's rights, international human rights) or use the advanced search if you have a specific title in mind.
Selected relevant subject headings:
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.
NUsearch allows you to conduct keyword searches for articles similar to how you would search for books. An article search across NUsearch will retrieve results from databases from all disciplines (e.g., JSTOR, Academic Search Premier, Science Direct, etc.). In the basic search, select "Articles" in the dropdown next to the search bar. Alternatively, after running a search, select "Articles" as a filter under "Format." You can refine your results to only include peer-reviewed journals or by date, subject, or language.
Alternatively, you can run searches for articles using Google Scholar. If you choose this option, you may wish to install the Northwestern VPN to ensure easy access to articles that are behind a paywall and otherwise available through our subscription databases.
Encyclopedias provide a surface-level overview of a topic and usually are accompanied by a bibliography of additional primary and secondary sources.
Annotated bibliographies identify important books, articles, and other materials on specific topics or subject areas.
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 IGOs include the United Nations or the African Union. Examples of NGOs include Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International.
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., https://www.hrw.org) 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.
Selected IGO and NGO Websites
Directories of International Organizations
News articles are great sources to keep up with timely and recent developments relating to an issue or topic. If you are working on a long-term research project on a topic, consider setting an alert to automatically run a search and notify you of any recent news articles on that topic.