Legal Research: International Law

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This presentation covers how to use the LexisNexis Academic database to do legal research on international law and legal material from foreign countries. It will take about 8 minutes.

LexisNexis Academic includes Reports, decisions, and resolutions from international organizations and bodies the govern international law; and Case, statutory, and regulatory law from foreign countries.

International law refers to the body of law that governs relations between nations. There are a number of elements that play a role in international law including international or regional organizations such as the United Nations, the Organization of American States, or the World Health Organization; treaties between two or more governments on a variety of issues such as trade, health, the environment, space exploration, etc; and bodies that resolve international disputes such as the International Court of Justice.

You can search Lexis Nexis Academic to find a wealth of international law material, including Gatt (the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade) and World Trade decisions; treaties, legislation, and directives from the European Union; and the full text of International Legal Materials, a publication containing treaties and resolutions from international bodies such as the United Nations, the World Bank, and International Court of Justice.

To search in the LexisNexis Academic database, you can begin from the Information and Library Services home page. Under Resources, click Research Databases.

Jump to the letter L.

Then click on the link to LexisNexis Academic.

Once you are in LexisNexis Academic, in the left frame click International Legal.

When you see the menu expand, click on EU, Commonwealth, and Other Nations

A search form will load. Enter your search terms. You should select keywords that describe significant elements of your topic. In this example, I am interested the rights of indigenous people, so I am using “indigenous people” in quotes as my search phrase. I put indigenous people in quotes so that the database will search for the words appearing together, as a phrase. Next select a source from the drop-down list. In this example, I selected International Legal Materials because it contains full text of documents from international organizations. If you want to see some information about a particular source, select the source then click on the “I” button to the right. When you click the “i” button you get a pop up window with information about the source. In this instance, you see information about the publication International Legal Materials. This can be important for determining how complete your search is.

You can also choose a date range, or else use the default which is All Available Dates. Now you are ready to search. Click on the Search button.

Your search will yield a list of results sorted by date, with the most recent listed first. Click on a publication title to view the full text. In this example I am selecting a 2007 document from United Nations General Assembly, Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Notice that the following type of information is provided: Title: Introductory Note to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and Ca. v. Attorney General, Supreme Court of Belize, by Saira Mohamed. The Date of the Publication: September 13, 2007, and October 18, 2007. And the Full Text of the material.

At the top right of the screen are icons you can use to Print, E-Mail, Save, or Export your citation to RefWorks.

The drop down menu of sources to search in LexisNexis Academic will let you choose Treaties.

Or you can choose GATT decisions.

Now let us look at how to use LexisNexis Academic to research Case, Statutory, and Regulatory Law from Foreign Countries. The countries that are covered in this section of LexisNexis Academic include the following: Canada, The European Union, Australia, Brunei, Hong Kong, Northern Ireland, The Republic of Ireland, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, and South Africa.

To research case, statutory, and regulatory law in Canada, return to the International Legal tab as shown earlier in this presentation. You will see where to click for Canadian Cases and Canadian Legislation. You will also see a link to Canadian Law Journals for law reviews and other secondary literature.

Here you see where to enter your search terms and select your criteria. You can specify a case name, a case citation, specify a date range, or choose a jurisdiction such as the Canadian provinces.

In this example you see how to search on a subject, for instance, copyright, cases from the previous two years, the federal jurisdiction which would involve all the provinces, and all the courts in the Canadian federal system. Click Search.

Again, the results list is arranged chronologically, from most recent to earlier decisions. Click on a title to read the full entry. For further information on researching cases, please see section 2 of this Legal Research tutorial.

To research The European Union and the other countries included in LexisNexis Academic, just click the link under International Legal for EU, Commonwealth, and Other Nations.

Enter your search terms, select a source, specify a date range, and click Search. This is a search for cases about copyright in the European Union in the previous two years.

This example shows a search on “Internet service providers” as a phrase, searching for legislation in the European Union from the previous 5 years.

Again, the results list is given chronologically, with the most recent legislation given first, etc.

Please contact a UMUC librarian if you need help with researching international law, or for any of your research needs. We are available a number of ways including instant messaging, text messaging, telephone, and walk-in visits, as well as 24/7 via e-mail and live chat. Thank you for viewing this presentation.


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