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International Human Rights: Getting Started   Tags: comparative, foreign, human rights, international law  

What you need to think about when starting international human rights research, and some selected resources.
Last Updated: Feb 25, 2014 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

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Purpose of this Guide

The purpose of this guide is to identify a few good resources and provide tips on how to use these resources and prepare a research strategy.  The sheer quantity of material is daunting and this guide does not even try to be comprehensive; however, it is a tool to aid the user in picking a path through the maze of international human rights law.


Getting Started

Human rights is a muilti-discipline subject so don't forget to use and research non-legal terms and non-law resources.

Do you know your specific subject area or focus?

  • Are you interested in the human rights of children, immigrants, prisoners of war?
  • Are you interested in the human rights situation in a specific nation?
  • Are you interested in a combination of the above?  For example, the rights of child brides in India?

Write down a clear statement of your issues and questions.  This defines the focus and scope of your project.

Now you are ready to develop your research strategy. 

  • What background information is needed? 
  • What are the primary documents?  Are they in English?  If you are OK with another language, what is the availability of their laws and other legal documents?
  • What other disciplines do you need to research?
  • What IGOs or NGOs are active in your research area?  Do they provide data, statistics or reports?
  • Is the use of current awareness materials indicated?
  • What resources are available?

Talk to a librarian.  We are here to assist you at each step. 

Recommended Resources

  • Foreign, Comparative & International Legal Research: A Quick Guide  
    Identifies resources available at and through Hofstra University Libraries. This FCIL quick guide will help you locate resources for foreign, comparative and international legal research. There will be little duplication within this International Human Rights Guide of the databases, web links and research services presented in the FCIL quick guide.
  • International Human Rights Law Sourcebook
    K3238 .I573 2014
    The Universal Declaration of Human Rights -- Major human rights instruments -- Organizational documents -- Additional documents for context and consideration.
  • ASIL:International Human Rights Law by Marci Hoffman
    This chapter will attempt to provide a guide to the ever expanding area of international human rights law. The focus will be on the electronic sources available for this topic, regardless of the format. This chapter will include general tips for doing research as well as for locating necessary documents and materials. The scope of this chapter will encompass both primary and secondary sources (including documents from non-governmental organizations). The emphasis will be on English-language materials, but the availability of resources in other languages is noted.

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