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International Human Rights: General Sources


Researching international human rights law can be a confusing mess of treaties and documents. The materials (for the most part) are not set out in a coherent, well organized fashion. The sources of information range from recognized treaty law to more ephemeral materials from non-governmental organizations. There are a few things to keep in mind when doing human rights research:

  • the interdisciplinary nature of the topic
  • the complexity of the topic and the materials
  • the difficulty in locating and accessing materials issued by a variety of organizations.

The researcher needs to be resourceful, creative, and never become daunted by the task. Just when you are ready to give up is when you might find the needed material.

Background Sources

When beginning your research, a good first step is to assess your current knowledge.  If you need basic or background information about human rights law generally, the following are good starting resources.

Study Guides:


Web Guides

Research Guides

Resesarch guides provide links to relevant sources and sometimes outline research methodology.  These guides are good starting points for general human rights research:  

There are many such legal research guides available on the web.  To locate more, do a Google search for your topic and the words "research guide."  For example, African human rights research guide.  

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