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Public International Law: A Beginner's Guide

Judicial Decisions

The Restatement Third, §103 states that evidence of international law can be derived from the judgments and opinions of international tribunals, and the judgments and opinions of national (domestic) tribunals. Commentary from the Restatement Third suggests that previous decisions from courts are not binding on future courts' decisions, unlike the concept of stare decisis (precedent) that is followed in the United States and other common law system. While these decisions do not set a binding precedent, it is well established that international tribunals give great deference to previous decisions; decisions from domestic courts are given less weight, but are still considered persuasive authorities.

The following resources provide access to legal decisions from foreign and domestic courts, as well as international tribunals. While the decisions in these resources provide evidence of international law, they not necessarily create binding international legal precedent.

Below you will find a list of legal reference materials, including reporters and other compilations, relating to international law cases that are available in the Law Library's collection.

The following titles link to fuller bibliographic information in the Library of Congress Online Catalog. Links to additional digital content are provided when available.

Official gazettes are primary sources of law published by national governments to disseminate new legislation, regulations, and decisions of governmental bodies. These publications may also contain other information including the text of international agreements, court decisions, official announcements, and government notices. For countries with civil law systems, the official gazette often serves as the sole source of the authoritative texts of laws until updated codes are published. In most countries, a law enters into force on the date of publication in the official gazette. The list below is by no means exhaustive, but is meant to illustrate different examples of gazettes. For a complete list of the Law Library's gazettes, please visit the Foreign Legal Gazette Collection.

The following titles link to fuller bibliographic information in the Library of Congress Online Catalog. Links to additional digital content are provided when available.

The following links connect researchers to published decisions of selected international tribunals.

The following links are for finding tools for general research into international decisions.