Finding Books and Articles on International and Foreign Law
Last Updated January 2013
There are many ways to find books and articles focused on international, foreign and comparative law. The following guide is an introduction to catalogs, key journal indexes, and other finding aids relevant to international and foreign legal research. Most of the databases described are fee-based and available only to members of the Columbia community. This list is not exhaustive. For additional assistance, please visit the Reference Desk.
The Arthur W. Diamond Law Library collection is on 5 floors of law library. See the law library website for a description of the library collections and for maps to the collections.
- International Books
- International books in the library are classified in the Library of Congress Classification System. For more information on this system, see the Library of Congress Classification System page on the library website.
- Foreign Books
- Most foreign books are arranged in the Schiller Classification System. More details are available at the Schiller Classification System page on the library website. In the Schiller System, call numbers begin with the country code, for example Af. Tun. for and Ger. for Germany.
- Find books at the law school library using Pegasus, the law school library catalog. Keyword searching is often the best way to start catalog searching, but many more sophisticated search methods are available.
- For example, subject searching can help find titles. Subjects are assigned by librarians and often include meaningful terms for searching. For example, searching the title field for the word 'genocide' will not find the book We Wish to Inform You that Tomorrow We Will be Killed with our Families: Stories from Rwanda. However since it was assigned a subject 'genocide--rwanda', you can find the book with a subject search of 'genocide--rwanda' or a general keyword search for 'genocide'.Once you find a title that is relevant to your research, look for relevant subjects assigned to the book and search by those subjects to retrieve other items.
- Call number searches are very useful, especially for foreign legal research. For example, using the search by "Hicks/Schiller" call number function can help limit your search to books about a particular country. For example, search for the call number GER for books about . See the Schiller Classification System page for more information.
There are many other excellent libraries in the Columbia University system. Find books at other Columbia libraries by using CLIO, the Columbia University Libraries' Online Catalog.
To look for materials beyond Columbia , search for books at other major research libraries using the following databases. Books found listed in these databases can often be borrowed using Interlibrary Loan. See the Reference Librarians to request Interlibrary Loan materials.
- Contains over 48 million records, covering all materials cataloged by OCLC member libraries around the world.
- Global Books in Print
- Find information on books in print, including links to publisher websites. Limited to books published in the U.S., Canada and the U.K.
- Foreign Law Collections in U.S. Libraries
- Is there a library in the United States that collects the country you are researching more extensively than Columbia does? Use this list to find out. Currently, only a few libraries are represented, but new libraries are being added. Patrons can identify a useful library and then search the individual library catalog for more references. This site is currently under renovation.
- The Library Index
- Still not finding what you need? Use this library index to look for libraries in other countries. This is particularly useful for foreign material. There, you may find online catalogs and citation information for resources not held in the U.S. While it is unlikely that we can inter-library loan these titles, patrons can recommend titles for the library to purchase.
Some texts and treatises are available in full-text online. In Westlaw, look in the Texts and Treatises (TEXTS) database. In Lexis, some treatises are available in the 'secondary legal' section.
There are many ways to find information about law review and journal articles related to foreign and international law. Unfortunately, there is no one single, comprehensive database. Instead, researchers generally must check several indexes to search for articles on a subject. These indexes focus on current literature. For information on retrospective indexes, please see the reference librarians.
Indexes to Legal Literature
Neither the full-text sources of legal journals nor the indexes are comprehensive. Even with good coverage, not one covers everything available. It is important to review the content note in a database (often called information or scope) to see the extent of an index's coverage. Also, researchers will normally have to search several places in order to conduct a thorough search.
- Westlaw and Lexis Full-text Legal Journals
- Westlaw and Lexis have databases (Westlaw-JLR; Lexis-LAWREV) that include the full-text of journal articles. Searching these full-text databases can be very useful because you can search all parts of the text, including the citation-rich footnotes. Therefore it is often the best place to start if you are looking for a specific fact or citation. However, keep in mind that the full-text legal journal databases in Westlaw and Lexis only cover some journals. It is not uncommon for full-text coverage to go back only a few years, or to only pick up selected articles from journals. For more extensive research, consider the journal indexes. Even indexes do not cover all journals.
- Index to Legal Periodicals and Books (Wilson)
- Wilson Web is a bibliographic database that cites articles from legal periodicals and indexes law books. The majority of the journals indexed are American journals, but they do cover some Commonwealth countries and often index articles dealing with foreign and international law.
- Legal Resource Index
- Accesible via Westlaw and Lexis.
- Index to articles from hundreds of journals, including law reviews, bar association journals, and legal newspapers from 1980 to present. This is an Information Access Company Product, and companion to the print product, Current Law Index. This index covers more journals than are available full-text in Westlaw and Lexis.
- Index to Foreign Legal Periodicals
- A multilingual index to legal articles and book reviews published worldwide. Also analyzed are the contents of legal essays, festschrifts, melanges, and congress reports. The Index to Foreign Legal Periodicals covers international (public and private), comparative, and municipal law of foreign countries. A list of journals covered can be found at Berkeley's IFLP website. Coverage is from 1985 to the present.
- European Legal Journals Index
- Available through Westlaw and as the Legal Journals Index (LJI). Includes references to or abstracts of articles from more than 430 legal journals published in the and other European countries or covering topics pertaining to the laws of the European Union and its member states. Coverage begins with 1986.
- Articles Index via Lawtel
- The Articles Index database provides abstracts of legal journals specializing in European Union law. It covers journals such as EU Focus, the Common Market Law Review, the European Law Journal and more. Articles Index is available through Lawtel, a commercial database.
- Indexes to Foreign Law Journals by Country
- Some, but not all, foreign countries have indexes to their legal periodicals. These indexes are often short-term indexes and are not necessarily comprehensive. Search Pegasus or see the reference librarians for assistance in finding these indexes.
Indexes to Non-Law Journals, Relevant to Legal Research
Often, articles on legal subjects are published in Non-Law Journals. The following is a selective list of indexes that will help you find these articles. Other indexes may exist for other subjects.
The following databases are available through the Columbia University Libraries. Search their Databases Page for additional subject indexes.
- ABI/INFORM Global
- Provides indexing of business periodicals and full-text resources.
- Africa-wide: NiPAD
- Citations and abstracts of African studies material in all disciplines.
- Indexes international publications related to economics. Available through the Columbia University Libraries.
- Indexes international publications on education. Available through the Columbia University Libraries.
- Indexing and full-text of articles on women's studies, feminism, feminist theory, gender studies and gay and lesbian studies.
- Handbook of Latin American Studies
- Indexes international publications on Latin America and the Caribbean . Available through the Columbia University Libraries
- Index Islamicus
- Indexes international publications on Islam, the Middle East and the Muslim World. Available through the Columbia University Libraries.
- International index of publications dealing with women, gender studies and feminism. Available through the Columbia University Libraries.
- PAIS International
- Indexes international publications related to public affairs. Particularly useful for human rights research. Available through the Columbia University Libraries.
- Includes citations and full text articles covering business, economics, management, health, news and general interest from the databases including ABI/INFORM global.
The following non-legal databases are available on the Internet and are free to the public.
- ECLAS - Catalog of the European Commission Library
- This database of documents on European affairs includes the departmental collections of 20 directorates general. The catalog also includes web resources and secondary sources that were previously cataloged in SCAD. This database is an index and does not contain full-text documents.
- This is a catalog of UN publications and documentation indexed by the Dag Hammarskjöd Library and the UN Library in Geneva , as well as non-UN publications held at the Dag Hammarskjöd Library. Covers from 1979 to present.
Full-Text Journals Online
Some journals can be found online in full-text. To see if a journal is available in full-text online, search the following places:
- They can be found via the catalogs, Pegasus or CLIO.
- Some journals are available in full-text electronically via Westlaw or Lexis.
The Columbia Law Library and the Columbia University Libraries subscribe to several good journal collections online. Note that the individual journal titles covered in the following databases are cataloged in Pegasus or CLIO, and most of the articles in these journals are indexed in the indexes listed above. Also note that some of the following online journal collections do not include coverage of the most recent issues of the journals they cover. Following is a list of a few of the journal collection databases, most useful for international legal research.
Many journals are only available in paper. Search Pegasus or the other catalogs described in the ‘Books' section for these journals.
DICTIONARIES AND ENCYCLOPEDIAS
The following dictionaries and encyclopedias provide definitions of legal terms and can include citations to books and articles about the terms.
Parry and Grant Encyclopaedic Dictionary of International Law. Parry, Clive. 3rd ed. New York: Oxford Publications, 2009.
3rd Floor Reference, KZ1161 .P37 2009
Dictionary of International and Comparative Law. James R. Fox. 3rd ed. Dobbs Ferry, N.Y. : Oceana Publications, c2003.
3rd Floor Reference and Reserve, JX1226 F832 2003
Modern Dictionary of International Legal Terms: English, French, German. E. Lindbergh. Boston : Little, Brown, c1993.
2nd Floor, JX1226 L64 1993
Encyclopedia of Public International Law. Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law, under the direction of Rudolf Bernhardt. Amsterdam: New York, North-Holland.
3rd Floor Reference, JX1226 En19a 1992and online
There are many excellent research guides on foreign and international law that can lead researchers to relevant books and articles. Some are general guides to foreign and international legal research, and others are on specific subjects, such as international environmental law or international criminal law.
Foreign Legal Research Guides
For foreign legal research guides, both online and in print, see the Arthur W. Diamond Law Library guide, A Selective List of Guides to Foreign Legal Research.
International Legal Research Guides
- The Arthur W. Diamond Law Library maintains several research guides to international legal research.
- Beyond Columbia , the following resources are mega sources and provide access to the many international guides available.
- ASIL Guide to Electronic Resources for International Law
- From the American Society of International Law. This excellent resource provides links to electronic resources around the world.
- Electronic Information System for International Law (EISIL)
- Electronic research guides for international law subjects such as international human rights, international environmental law, international air and space and more.
- An electronic legal publication dedicated to international and foreign law research. Published by the Hauser Global Law School Program at NYU School of Law
- LLRX-International Law Guides
- A free web journal with excellent guides to international legal research. Also see their Comparative and Foreign Resource Center .
Print Research Guides
The following print guides are also excellent resources.
- The Accidental Tourist on the New Frontier: An Introductory Guide to Global Legal Research. Edited by Jeanne Rehberg and Radu D. Popa. Littleton, Colorado : F.B. Rothman, 1998.
- 3rd Floor Reference: Comp 077 Ac25 1998
- Germain's Transnational Law Research: A Guide for Attorneys. Claire M. Germain. Ardsley-on-Hudson, NY : Transnational Juris Publications, Inc.,c1991-
- 3rd Floor Reference and Reserve: Comp 077 G317
- Guide to international legal research . 5th Edition. Lexis Publishing. Salem, N.H. : Butterworths Legal Publishers, 2005.
- 4th Floor, KZ1234 .G85
Please send comments regarding this guide to Silke Sahl, International, Foreign and Comparative Law Librarian, Columbia University , Diamond Law Library at firstname.lastname@example.org.