Updated March 31, 2011.
Prepared by Jonathan Franklin; updated by Lori Fossum (2011).
This guide defines and identifies sources for custom, principles, and teachings in international law.
LexisNexis and Westlaw are restricted to users with individual IDs or passwords. HeinOnline is UW restricted.
"Customary international law is the generalization of the practice of States" Fisheries Case, ICJ Reports (1951) 191.
For example, United Nations General Assembly resolutions can often form the basis for an argument based on custom. For additional discussion on how to find UN resolutions, see the United Nations Research guide.
For additional information about customary law, see Ralph F. Gaebler, "Conducting Research in Customary International Law," in Contemporary Practice of Public International Law. KZ1234 C66 1997 at Classified Stacks
"Principles of Law Recognized by Civilized Nations" means principles that virtually all industrialized nations adhere to. They can be substantive or procedural principles, such as equitable claims that appear in both the common and civil law systems.
Principles are found by completing a comparative law study of how a particular issue is dealt with in a wide range of jurisdictions.
For additional information, see the Gallagher guide on Foreign Law Research.
"Teachings of the Most Highly Qualified" means scholarly writings by leading minds regarding how to treat a particular topic or question.
Teachings can be found in secondary sources (treatises, yearbooks, journals). Use the periodical indexes and library catalog.
Consult annotated bibliographies and research guides, such as Germain's Transnational Law Research. K85.G47 1991 at Reference Office
Several specific sources of teachings are:
For the U.S. perspective on customs, principles, and teachings, consult the following sources.
The U.S. State Department's Office of the Legal Adviser publishes digests to provide the views and practices of the United States in public and private international law.