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Free Legal Research Resources

This guide contains selected free (or low-cost) online legal research resources. These resources are meant to act as a starting point for legal research when paid databases are inaccessible or unfeasible.

Research Guides

Beginning Your Foreign Legal Research
Columbia's guide to researching foreign legal research. Sections include: understanding legal systems, identifying relevant legal systems, identifying specific sources of law, locating specific material in print and electronic formats, and translations resources.

GlobaLex is an electronic legal publication dedicated to international and foreign law research. It is published by the Hauser Global Law School Program at NYU School of Law and has guides to international, comparative, and foreign law.

Library of Congress
The Law Library of Congress provides research guides for U.S. treaties, public international law, foreign law, and much more.

Organizations & Collections

Human Rights

European Court of Human Rights
The European Court of Human Rights' library contains a large collection of general human rights literature as well as items on other human rights systems.

Human Rights Library
The University of Minnesota's collection of human rights documents is one of the largest available and includes several hundred human rights treaties and other primary international human rights instruments. The site also provides a research tool that simultaneously searches multiple human rights websites.

Nuremberg War Crimes Trials

Databases & Archives

Audiovisual Library of International Law
The United Nations' collection of audiovisual materials, including: historical archives, lecture series, mini-series, and more.

The AVALON Project:  Documents in Law, History and Diplomacy
Yale Law School's Avalon Collections encompass Ancient Documents  (4000bce - 399); Medieval Documents (400-1399); Project Diana: An Online Human Rights Archive; The International Military Tribunal for Germany; and Blackstone's Commentaries on the Laws of England.

EUR-Lex provides access to European Union Law, including: treaties, international agreements, EU legislation, EU case law, national case law, official journal, and more.

Foreign Relations of the United States
The Office of the Historian's electronic version of its Foreign Relations of the United States allows for full-text search, bookmarking, and note-taking.

Global-Regulation is a database containing over 1.55 million laws from around the world, with over 700,000 translated into English through automated translation. The first ten searches are free for non-subscribers.

A database of Supreme Court decisions from 42 francophone countries. The site is entirely in French.

LawCite is an automatically-generated international legal case and journal article citator that searches for instances where a legal document has been cited or discussed. It focuses on materials from common law countries.

A database of national labor, social security and related human rights legislation from 196 countries provided by the International Labour Organization (ILO).

World Intellectual Property Organization's WIPO Lex is a global database of legal information on intellectual property (IP) such as treaties, other IP-related treaties, and laws and regulations of some 200 countries.

United Nations

United Nations
Browse and search the international organization's workcharter, member states, main bodies, and more.

Judicial Bodies

International Court of Justice

International Criminal Court

International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia

International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda


UN Commission on International Trade Law
The UN's working group website contains conventions, model laws, contractual texts, notes and recommendations, and secondary resources on the subject area.