While each judicial or quasi-judicial body generally makes its decisions available on its own website (see Body-Specific Databases or Lists, below), such databases are often difficult to effectively search and their content is limited. However, there are other online databases which allow researchers to search the caselaw of multiple bodies simultaneously. This page provides links to the best available search facilities, maintained by universities and NGOs.
In addition to case-specific decisions (including Concluding Observations in the UN system and case reports published by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights), researchers should not overlook general treaty interpretation outside the case-specific context (such as the UN treaty bodies’ General Comments and UN special rapporteurs’ reports). Further, domestic courts’ decisions are an important and often rich source of international law interpretation and application.
- WorldCourts provides a searchable database of all judicial and quasi-judicial decisions from the regional and international bodies’ complaint mechanisms and international(ized) criminal tribunals. It appears to be mostly up to date, although some bodies’ most recent decisions may not be included.
- The Netherlands Institute of Human Rights (SIM) manages a searchable database of decisions of the UN treaty bodies, European Court of Human Rights, ICTR and ICTY, as well as of UN treaty body comments and general comments.
- The University of Minnesota’s Human Rights Library houses a wealth of domestic and international materials on human rights, including legislation, secondary sources, and country condition research tools. See the principal search page. It is perhaps most useful for searching the decisions of the regional human rights tribunals and international criminal tribunals, but also contains decisions from the UN treaty bodies. These databases are not entirely up to date, and may be about one year out of date. Users can search within the UM Human Rights Library and 14 external sites (including IGOs, national government sites, and NGOs) at the same time, for any document, by keyword.
- WorldLII, the World Legal Information Institute, is a collection of smaller databases containing case law, legislation, treaties, reports and articles from international courts and the domestic courts of more than 20 countries. Search the international law library for international (and not domestic) documents, or the international courts and tribunals library for international jurisprudence. The focus of WorldLII and the subsidiary country and regional LII bases is weighted toward current and former Commonwealth countries and the Pacific region, presumably due to the Australian origins of the facility. See the list of information available (e.g. jurisprudence of the Constitutional Court of Indonesia from 2006 onward), by country, here.
- Use the region- and country-specific LII databases if looking only for documents pertaining to a particular country or region because the search results are sometimes more accurate when the relevant LII database is used:
- ESCR-Net is a searchable database of domestic and international jurisprudence relevant to economic, social and cultural rights.
- Bayefsky.com contains a limited database of UN treaty body decision excerpts and comment summaries, arranged by State, category or subject matter.
- The Universal Human Rights Index of United Nations Documents provides a database of UN treaty body and rapporteurs’ observations and recommendations, searchable by country, right or body.
- UNHCR’s Refworld contains an online database of international and domestic judicial decisions and other documents relevant to refugee and asylum law.
- The University of Michigan Law School’s Refugee Caselaw Site provides a searchable database of asylum-related decisions from the highest courts of 33 countries.
- The Global Legal Information Network (GLIN) site is most useful for finding domestic legislation, through its searchable database of domestic and international jurisprudence and law made available by the following States and organizations:
- Arab League, Brazil, Cameroon, Canada, Cape Verde, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Gabon, Guatemala, Honduras, Indonesi, Justice Studies Center of the Americas, South Korea, Kuwait, Mali, Mauritania, Mexico, Nicaragua, Organization of American States, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Portugal, Qatar, Spain, Taiwan, Tunisia, United Kingdom, United States, USIP/INPROL
BODY-SPECIFIC DATABASES OR LISTS:
Each judicial or quasi-judicial human rights body provides the texts of its decisions online, at the following links: