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Georgetown Law Library

War Crimes Research Guide

This guide is a starting point for your research on war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide.

Treaties and Treaty Bodies

OVERVIEW

War crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide are governed by international treaties. Remember, treaties are referred to by many different names: conventions, protocols, accords, and covenants are just a few examples.

Some questions to consider when conducting treaty research include:

  • Is there an applicable treaty?
  • Is it in force?
  • Has a particular country ratified the treaty?
  • Has that country made any declarations or reservations?
  • What is the citation and where is the full text?

You may wish to consult our Treaty Research Guide for more detailed information on conducting treaty research.

MAJOR LEGAL INSTRUMENTS

Although not an exhaustive list, these legal instruments are some of the key primary sources in the area of war crimes research. Additional primary documents can be found on EISIL's war crimes page. See the next section for information on citation assistance.

LOCATING INTERNATIONAL INSTRUMENTS

The texts of most major multilateral treaties are easy to locate online. The trick is finding the official Bluebook citationEISIL, the international law database maintained by the American Society of International Law can help. If the treaty you are using is located in EISIL, then the "More Information" link under the main text link will provide you with citation information.

Finding bilateral and older versions multilateral treaties can be more difficult. For example locating in the United Nations Treaty Series (U.N.T.S.) the U.S. declaration recognizing the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice 1 U.N.T.S. 9. This is when you might want to consult some of thelarger online treaty collections or use a treaty index. Some of the best sources are listed below. For more detailed information on researching treaties, see our Treaty Research Guide.

Print and Online Sources
  • EISIL (American Society of International Law)
    Also has a list of conventions.
  • HeinOnline: Treaties and Agreements Library (Georgetown Law Only)
    Includes all U.S. treaties, whether currently in-force, expired, or not-yet officially published. Includes the United States Treaties and Other International Agreements, Bevans, Miller, Malloy and others.
  • HeinOnline: United Nations Law Collection (Georgetown Law Only)
    Select of major yearbooks, official records, and treaties from the U.N. and the League of Nations. For treaties you can search by citation.
  • The Human Rights Library (University of Minnesota)
    Offers a list of conventions on war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide and a list of law of armed conflict conventions.
  • International Humanitarian Law Database (International Committee of the Red Cross)
    Includes 100 treaties and other text, from 1856 to the present, both in full treaty text and by individual article. They can viewed by subject or date.
  • The Laws of War (Avalon Project at Yale Law School)
    This list is mostly historical in nature. The dates of the laws range from 1856 to 1975, and are presented in chronological order.
  • Multilateral Treaties Deposited with the Secretary-General available in print and online(Georgetown Law Only)
    To access the online version click on "Status of Treaties (MTDSG)". The on-line version is currently updated daily. This publication has information on when countries sign, ratify, accede or lodge declarations, reservations or objections. It is printed annually in three volumes. This does not have the the actual text of the treaties it does provide citation for locating a copy.
  • United Nations Treaty Collection (Georgetown Law Only)
    The United Nations Treaty series contains the texts of over 30,000 bilateral and multilateral treaties in their authentic language(s), along with a translation into English and French, as appropriate, for those treaties registered with the Secretariat.
  • World Treaty Index print and online
    In this index you can search by key word (e.g. criminal matters) or by parties (e.g. U.S.S.R). This resource lists the official citation which is key for locating a copy of the text of the treaty.