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Finding Books and Articles on International and Foreign Law

Written by Silke Sahl
Maintained by Dana Neacsu
Last Updated April 4, 2017

The way to find books and articles continues to change as technology changes. Library catalogs evolve and use federated search engines which search across scholarship types, from books to journals, and across disciplines. 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 Office. See Law Library Services.


Arthur W. Diamond Law Library

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 of the library's foreign law collections 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.
Pegasus is an index rather than a portal to full-text sources so, remember that keyword searching is often the best way to start catalog searching. However, once you become comfortable with catalog-searches, you will find other methods more efficient.
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.

Columbia University Libraries

To find books and journal articles in a myriad of disciplines, including law, use the library search engine called, CLIO, the Columbia University Libraries' Online Catalog.

Beyond Columbia

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.

Books Online

Some texts and treatises are available in full-text online. For example Westlaw, LexisAdvance, and HeinOnline have some full-text books. . Similarly, the main Columbia University library subscribes to e-books published by major publishers, including Oxford UP. So, make sure you always check CLIO, the Columbia University Libraries' Online Catalog.


There are many ways to find information about law review and journal articles related to foreign and international law. Using federated search engines such as CLIO, may be your best first step. However, this is not a full-proof approach in terms of comprehensibility, so you may want to duplicate your search using 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, LexisAdvance and HeinOnline -- Full-text Legal Journals
Westlaw, LexisAdvance and HeinOnline have databases 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 these databases 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.
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 LexisAdvance.
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 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.

Provides indexing of business periodicals and full-text resources.
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:

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.


While many journals are available electronically, it is important to note that some are only available in paper. In particular, the library's foreign law journals are often available only in paper. Search Pegasus or the other catalogs described in the ‘Books' section for these journals.


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.
2nd Floor, 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-Comparative/Foreign Law Guides
A free web journal with excellent guides to international legal research.

Please send comments regarding this guide to Dana Neacsu, Librarian & Lecturer at