Jurisprudence & Document Databases
Download our guide to Researching International Human Rights Law (pdf), or use the links below to access judgments, decisions, and other interpretations of international human rights law.
While each human rights body generally makes its decisions, recommendations, reports, and other documents available on its own website, such databases are often difficult to effectively search and their content is limited. However, other online databases allow users to search the documents of multiple bodies simultaneously. This page provides links to the best available search facilities, arranged by scope.
In addition to case-specific decisions, researchers should not overlook general treaty interpretation (such as the UN treaty bodies’ general comments and UN special rapporteurs’ reports) or human rights monitoring bodies’ reports on States’ compliance with their treaty obligations. Further, domestic courts’ decisions are an important and often rich source of international law interpretation and application.
- WorldCourts provides a searchable database of case decisions from the United Nations, African, and Inter-American human rights bodies’ complaint mechanisms, as well as judgments of internationalized criminal tribunals. The database is not absolutely up-to-date, and does not include decisions issued within the previous 6 to 12 months.
- The University of Minnesota’s Human Rights Library houses a wealth of decisions from regional and UN human rights bodies and international criminal tribunals, as well as secondary sources and country condition research tools, accessible through the principal search page. The website also allows users to search 14 external sites (including IGOs, national government sites, and NGOs) at the same time, for any document, by keyword.
- INTERIGHTS’ Commonwealth and International Human Rights Law Databases provide summaries of significant judicial decisions from Commonwealth countries’ domestic courts, regional human rights bodies, and UN human rights treaty bodies, searchable by keyword. Note that the databases do not contain documents published after 2011.
- ESCR-Net Caselaw Database is a searchable repository of domestic and international jurisprudence on economic, social, and cultural rights.
United Nations Bodies
- To look up any UN document using the document symbol (such as E/C.12/GMB/1 or A/HRC/27/L.1), type in www.undocs.org followed by the symbol number (e.g., www.undocs.org/E/C.12/GMB/1 or www.undocs.org/A/HRC/27/L.1).
- Bayefsky.com contains a limited database of UN treaty body documents related to State reports and individual complaints, arranged by State, category, or subject matter.
- The Universal Human Rights Index of United Nations Documents provides a database of Universal Periodic Review documents and treaty bodies and special procedures’ observations and recommendations, searchable by keyword, country, right, body, affected group, and document symbol.
- The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights maintains searchable databases of treaty body documents and Charter body documents, which include decisions, reports, and jurisprudence. These are searchable by: document symbol, State, body, and type of document, but not by keyword.
- If you know you are looking for a document from a particular session of a UN body (such as a treaty body, the Universal Periodic Review Working Group, or Human Rights Council), go directly to the documents for that session using the following links:
- Human Rights Council
- Universal Periodic Review (also available by Country)
- Human Rights Committee
- Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
- Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women
- Committee against Torture
- Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
- Committee on Migrant Workers
- Committee on Enforced Disappearances
- Committee on the Rights of the Child
- Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
- To conduct a keyword search of jurisprudence regarding individual complaints decided by the treaty bodies, use the Jurisprudence Database.
Other Universal Bodies
- The International Criminal Court maintains a list of past and current situations and cases.
- The International Labour Organization also maintains searchable databases of decisions, instruments, and national legislation on labor and employment standards
- WorldCourts provides a searchable database of case decisions from the African and Inter-American human rights bodies’ complaint mechanisms. The database is not absolutely up-to-date, and does not include decisions issued within the previous 6 to 12 months.
- The University of Minnesota’s database is perhaps most useful for searching the decisions of the regional human rights tribunals. However, the database is generally a few years out-of-date.
- The African Human Rights Case Law Analyzer is a searchable database of human rights decisions from supranational judicial and quasi-judicial bodies in Africa, including the African Commission and Court of Human and Peoples’ Rights, African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of Children, ECOWAS Community Court of Justice, SADC Tribunal, and East African Court of Justice.
- The regional human rights bodies also provide the texts of their decisions online, at the following links:
- African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (decided cases)
- African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (list of applications received)
- European Committee of Social Rights (searchable case law database)
- European Court of Human Rights (excellent searchable case law database)
- Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (decisions by type and year)
- 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 (currentness varies by body). The focus of WorldLII and the subsidiary country and regional LII bases is weighted toward current and former Commonwealth countries and the Pacific region. See the list of information available (for example, 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:
- Asia (AsianLII)
- Australia (AustLII)
- Canada (CanLII)
- Commonwealth countries (CommonLII)
- Hong Kong (HKLII)
- Ireland (IRLII)
- New Zealand (NZLII)
- the Pacific Islands (PacLII)
- the Philippines (the LAWPHiL Project)
- Southern Africa (SAFLII)
- Uganda (ULII)
- United Kingdom and Ireland (BAILII)
- United States (LII)
- Google Scholar is a good source of U.S. judicial decisions, from both state and federal courts, and also contains legal scholarship.
- ESCR-Net is a searchable database of domestic and international jurisprudence related to economic, social and cultural rights.
- 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.
International Criminal Tribunals
- The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) provides a list of cases and the Washington College of Law provides judgment summaries.
- The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) maintains a list of cases and provides additional documents in its Legal Library.
- Search the jurisprudence of the ICTR and ICTY through the ICTR/ICTY/MICT Case Law Database.
- The Special Court for Sierra Leone website lists its completed cases.
- The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia provides a list of cases.
- The Special Tribunal for Lebanon lists its pending cases.