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Topics in International Law: International Courts

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What is the International Court of Justice?

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) is the judicial organ of the United Nations. Only states (nations) may submit disputes as parties to the ICJ.  The court also issues advisory opinions for United Nations organizations and agencies. The ICJ is based in The Hague, with 15 judges from different states.

  • Reports of Judgments, Advisory Opinions and Orders are available in print at the MacMillan Law Library (KZ214. I58). 
  • Judgments are available on Westlaw and Lexis.
  • The website of the International Court of Justice includes pdfs of judgments, orders, and other documents. It also has judgments of the predecessor Permanent Court of International Justice. The ICJ website includes written and oral statements that are part of a case's procedural history.
  • International Court of Justice judgments are reported in other publications, along with other international court judgments and national court decisions on international law.
    • International Legal Materials (KZ64 .I58).  Available online through Hein Online, Westlaw, and Lexis.
    • International Law Reports (KZ199 .I58).  Available online through Justis.
  • Hein Online's United Nations Law Collection includes the ICJ Reports and Yearbook, other UN yearbooks, and UN conferences on international law.
  • Oxford Reports on International Law includes judgments of the ICJ.

Researching the E.U. Court of Justice and E.U. caselaw

The European Union Court of Justice issues judgments and order interpreting the E.U. treaties and legislation.  Cases can be brought by E.U. institutions, member states, and individuals against E.U. institutions; against E.U. member states for failing to fulfill their treaty obligations; and by national courts requesting preliminary rulings on the validity or interpretations of E.U. law. The General Court hears administrative disputes and competition cases.

Documents from the Court of Justice can be found in:

  • Reports of Cases Before the Court:  Print version in the MacMillan Law Library (KJE 924.5 .R47). No longer published in print version.
  • ECJ Curia website:
  • Eur-Lex: Search by fields including words in title or text, date, institution, member state, result, act affected, subject matter, or EuroVoc descriptor. 
  • European e-Justice portal: Information on EU law, plus links to judicial websites of member states.
  • Westlaw: Databases for ECJ cases and for the Common Market Law Reports.
  • Hein Online: Court of Justice Reports in pdf, from 1954 to 2012.
  • Justis: EU Caselaw 1954-current.

Decisions of member state national courts on EU law can be searched in the Dec.Nat database.

European Court of Human Rights

The European Court of Human Rights is the judicial body of the Council of Europe, with 47 member states. It interprets the articles of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Materials can be found at: 

Other International Courts

Caselaw of international tribunals, courts and other international law jurisprudence may be found in United Nations yearbooks and other international law yearbooks. The UN Juridical Yearbook includes decisions of international and national courts related to the UN and its treaties, plus decisions of UN administrative tribunals.

The International Criminal Court has judgments and pending case information from the ICC.

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights has decisions, judgments, advisory opinions available in pdf and as Word documents. Most are available in English and Spanish, some in Portuguese or French.

Materials for the International Criminal Tribunals for Yugoslavia and Rwanda can be found in:

  • ICTY: Basic legal documents, cases, and judgments
  • ICTR: Basic legal documents, cases, and judgments
  • Global War Crimes Tribunal Collection (KZ 1190 .G56 1997).
  • International Courts and Tribunals: Selected Documents and Materials (KZ 6250 .I57 2001).

International Legal Materials (Hein OnlineWestlaw, Lexis) reports judgments and orders of international courts and tribunals.

Oxford International Law Reports includes international court reports on human rights and international criminal law and a citator for finding related cases and secondary source materials.

The Library of Congress’ Global Legal Monitor includes news of international courts with links.

The International Justice Research Center has news and calendars of the international courts and human rights tribunals, with the reports and documents before the tribunals linked.

The Library of Congress International Tribunals Web Archive is a searchable archive of documents from international tribunals from relevant websites including Human Rights Watch, the University of Minnesota Human Rights Library, and  the UN Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals.


The Nuremberg Trial Decisions

  • Trial of the Major War Criminals before the International Military Tribunals and Trial of the German Major War Criminals (D804 .G42 I55; 4th floor).  Available online through Hein Online's World Trials.
  • Trial of the Major War Criminals Before the International Military Tribunal in the Library of Congress’ Military Law materials.
  • Trial of War Criminals Before the Nuernberg Military Tribunals (the industrialist trials) (US Government Documents D 102.8).
  • The Library of Congress’ Military Legal Resources also includes War Crimes Trial materials, JAG materials, and the Manual for Courts Martial.
  • Declassified documents from the National Archives Nazi War Crimes and Japanese Imperial Government Records Interagency Working Group
  • Documents and transcripts are being added to the Harvard Nuremberg Trials Project.


National court decisions on international law

  • International Law Reports (KZ199 .I58).  Available online through Justis.
  • International Legal Materials (KZ64 .I58).  Available online through Westlaw, Lexis and Hein Online.
  • International Law in Domestic Courts database (ILDC), part of Oxford Reports on International Law.
  • International Law Update: Reports on new international law cases, mostly in U.S. courts.  Available online through WestlawLexisHein Law Journal Library.

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