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*[ Quarterly Index of African Periodical Literature] – this source is available free through the Library of Congress and indexes over 700 selected periodicals from 29 African countries from 1991-2011.
*[ Quarterly Index of African Periodical Literature] – this source is available free through the Library of Congress and indexes over 700 selected periodicals from 29 African countries from 1991-2011.
*[ Bibliography of Africana Periodical Literature] – this source is available free from and contains more than 17,6800 records from over 800 journals across Africa.
*[ Africana Periodical Literature] – this source is available free from and contains more than 17,6800 records from over 800 journals across Africa.
=== Other Relevant Journal Indexes ===
=== Other Relevant Journal Indexes ===

Revision as of 10:18, 25 October 2017

An Introduction to African Legal Resources

Written by Silke Sahl
Maintained by Deborah L. Heller
Last Updated October 25, 2017

This guide focuses on regional resources for the entire African continent, not country-specific resources. Many of the resources mentioned are subscription services available only to members of the Columbia Law School or Columbia University community. For assistance finding African resources at Columbia's Diamond Law Library, please do not hesitate to contact the reference librarians at the Reference Desk.

Legal scholarship - Monographs

When researching an unfamiliar area of law, using a research guide can be a helpful first step because it will help you identify some of the resources that you may want to consult. The research guide on Finding Books and Articles on International and Foreign Law is a good place to start; the guide will walk you through the process of finding books and articles on your topic using the resources available to you both at the Law Library and the Columbia University Libraries and locating those items on campus.

Law Library

At the Arthur W. Diamond Law Library, African legal scholarship, whether monographs or journals, is generally located in the Cellar of the law library. Some materials and recent journals may be found in the 3rd Floor Reserve area. Most of the materials are arranged according to the Schiller Classification System. Under this system, call numbers begin with the country code; for most African countries, the country code is Af., which denotes Africa, followed by an abbreviation for the name of the country. For example Af. Tun. for Tunisia and Af. Ug. for Uganda. The call number for Egypt is different in that it does not include the Af. designation and is merely Eg. Additionally, for South Africa, the call number is So. Af. The topical numbers following the country code also provide you with information about the item. For instance, reference sources will have a call number beginning with 0-99, statutes will have a call number beginning with 110, court reports and digests will begin with 150, etc. Find books at the law school using Pegasus, the law library catalog. Using the search by "Hicks/Schiller" call number function can help limit your search to books about a particular country. Furthermore, understanding the call number ranges as mentioned above can help you easily locate an item in the same subject matter across jurisdictions.

Columbia University Libraries

In addition to the law library collection, you may find African resources, both in print and on-line, by using CLIO , the Columbia University Online Catalog.

Beyond Columbia

If you cannot find the resource you need for your research in either Pegasus or CLIO, remember that the reference librarians can place an interlibrary loan request to try and get an item from another University in the United States.

Journal Articles

For a comprehensive guide to finding journal articles and using some of the resources listed below please see the research guide Finding Books and Articles on International and Foreign Law. Listed below are some of the resources that will help you locate articles on African law.

Law Journal Indexes

African Studies Journal Indexes

The following indexes, available through CLIO or for free, focus on African periodicals, but are not limited to law.

  • Africa-wide information – This database includes over 3.5 million citations and abstracts dating back to the 16th century and offers extensive coverage of all facets of Africa and African studies.
  • Africana Periodical Literature – this source is available free from and contains more than 17,6800 records from over 800 journals across Africa.

Other Relevant Journal Indexes

There are other more general academic journal indexes available through CLIO.

  • Academic Search Complete – This indexes more than 6100 full text periodicals, including more than 5100 that are peer reviewed across many different disciplines.

Finding Full Text Journals

Full-text journals can be found by searching by the title of the article in the journal in CLIO or by the title of the journal in Pegasus. Many journals are available through a variety of databases in Pegasus and in CLIO; however, some journals are only available in print.

Some journals are available in full-text electronically via Westlaw, Lexis Advance and Bloomberg Law.

Some examples of online African legal journals are:

Note that many of these journals are available through HeinOnline. However, many of the most recent volumes of the journals may only have indexing available on HeinOnline and require reading the journal through a different database or in print.

Examples of African law journals available in print through Pegasus include:

Examples of online African journals available through CLIO include:

Legal Databases

Following is a list of online legal databases, both fee-based and free. Compared to U.S. legal research, very little is available online. Researchers will need to use a combination of these online resources and paper resources, as described in the section on Books.

African Law Databases available from the Diamond Law Library

The library subscribes to the following African law databases. Most of them can be accessed from Pegasus or our Electronic Resources Page.

Tashreaat is an Egyptian legal database providing a complete reference to Egyptian legislation, rulings of the high courts (Supreme Constitutional Court, the Court of Cassation and the Supreme Administrative Court) and related legal material from Egypt. User may also view the Egyptian Gazette, studies by prominent councils, lawyers' directory and legal news. Research is only available in Arabic. You may need to modify your display settings and change the screen resolution to 800x600 pixels to view the site.
This African database includes access to Constitutional Library, Juta's Daily Law Reports, Juta's Digest of South African Law, Jutastat's Statutes of South Africa, the South African Law Reports (1947-current), the Law Reports of Zimbabwe, Statutes of Zimbabwe, Botswana Law Reports, Tanzania Law Reports, Zambia Law Reports, and Namibian Law Reports. Available only with the assistance of librarians, researchers should go to the reference desk to use this database.
This database includes case law from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and the Comesa Court of Justice. It is available with the assistance of librarians. Researchers should go to the reference desk to use this database.
This Columbia University database includes Retrospective Government Gazettes from South Africa from 1910 to 1993. It is available to all members of the Columbia University community.

Worldwide Legal Databases available from the Diamond Law Library

The library subscribes to the following worldwide law databases. Most of them can be accessed from the links below, or from Pegasus or from our Electronic Resources Page.

This database provides information on sources of foreign law for most countries. It includes citations to legislation, references to translations when available, and select secondary sources. This database is commonly referred to as Reynolds and Flores (the names of the authors).
Published by Oceana, this database includes the constitutions and related documents of 192 countries, and corresponds with their looseleaf set of the same name. Note that the 'print' option is located in the 'document details' section. Access is available by IP address from the Columbia Law School Campus. Only one user can use this database at a time, so please be sure to logoff of the database when you are finished with your search.
Lexis Advance has migrated some of the materials that they had on their platform to Lexis Advance. Lexis Advance does have materials for several African countries. Many of these countries only have general news items available and the coverage of these news sources varies widely. Lexis does include South Africa case law from Butterworths South African Constitutional Law Reports (June 1991 – current) and South Africa Tax Cases (March 31, 1920 through 1998 and a few cases preceding 1917-18). South Africa Legislation is available in Butterworths Statutes of South Africa (1912-July 2014).
Westlaw has a limited amount of African legal information. Westlaw does have the documents issued by International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda from 1995 through July 2007. Additionally, Westlaw has the 2nd Edition (2008) of Constitutional Law of South Africa, which is a treatise on South African constitutional law. Westlaw also has some journals that cover Africa, including the African Journal of International and Comparative Law, African Journal of Legal Studies, and Journal of African Law.

Free African Legal Databases and Websites

AfricanLII is a project of the Democratic Governance Rights Unit at the Department of Public Law, Faculty of Law at the University of Cape Town. The goal of the project is to promote free access of the law throughout Africa. For several countries, the website links to country specific Legal Information Institutes like SAFLII. For other countries, there are links and descriptions to resources that will provide legal information for that country in different areas of law.
This site provides free access to legal information from all Commonwealth countries, including many African Countries.

The South African Legal Information Institute publishes legal information for members of the public to access for free. Most of the materials are case law from South Africa. However, there are legal materials from other countries including Angola, Botswana, Kenya, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. Additionally, SAFLII includes Law Journals, and some Regional Courts of Justice including COMESA, East African Court of Appeal, East African Court of Justice, and SADC Tribunal.
Includes some laws from the Great Lakes region.
Includes some laws from francophone Africa.
JurisAfrica is an online law reporting service, the property of Africa Law Reporter Online. They intend to publish judgments of the superior courts of African countries and have some online already. It also includes constitutions, statutes and legal news.
Includes Supreme Court decisions from Francophone African countries.
Run by the National Council for Law Reporting, which is a semi-autonomous state corporation under the Judiciary, this site provides access to Kenya's Public Legal Information including the Laws of Kenya, Cases, Tribunals, and more.
The content is available as an Open Access collection, and includes gazettes from Algeria, Congo (Rep.), Iran, Iraq, Libya, Morocco, Mozambique, Nigeria, Somalia, Sudan, and Zimbabwe. Though CRL’s primary focus of scanning was “independence forward,” it includes numerous gazettes from earlier time periods and predecessor states (such as British Somaliland and Southern Rhodesia).
Offers free access to South African legislation, policy documents, and daily political news. The site provides PDF images of legislation from the Government Gazette. Also includes case law from the Constitutional Court, Supreme Court of Appeal, and High Courts.

Free Global Law Databases and Websites

Published by the Hauser Global Law School Program at NYU School of Law, GlobaLex is an electronic legal publication dedicated to international and foreign law research. The guides and articles are written by scholars who are well known in their fields. Under the listing for Foreign Law Research, you can find countries listed in alphabetical order.
Prepared by the Law Library of Congress Public Services Division, this resource is an annotated guide to sources of legal information available online by country. Links to international resources and resources by country are provided.
This site provides links to law online. You can find links to African resources under All regions and then choosing Africa.

Law by Subject

A Columbia Law School Library guide to beginning your foreign legal research and finding websites and databases that help you research foreign law by subject.

Research Guides

When you are researching an unfamiliar area of law, a research guide can be a very helpful tool to use. Guides to African legal research and guides to African studies in general may provide assistance.

Prepared by Columbia University Libraries, this guide includes resources for performing African studies research.
Guide available through Globalex that helps identify online resources for legal materials from African countries.

The Arthur W. Diamond Law Library has research guides in other subjects that may be helpful for African legal research. All guides are available from the library's Research Guides Page.