Human Rights Law Research Guide

This guide will lead researchers through primary materials and introduce important secondary sources. While general human rights sources are covered in the guide, special attention is paid to resources that specifically address international women's human

National (Domestic) Laws on Human Rights

Table of Contents

Treaties and other international instruments are not the only legal mechanisms for protecting human rights.  Such protections also are enshrined in the domestic laws of sovereign states.  These provisions are most frequently found in constitutions, but they also may be included in legislation.

Listed below are the best free and subscription-based resources for locating constitutional texts and national legislation from jurisdictions around the world.  For additional guidance on researching the domestic law of jurisdictions outside the U.S., consult the Georgetown Law Library’s Foreign and Comparative Law Research Guide.

Constitutional Texts

  • World Constitutions Illustrated
    This HeinOnline database includes the current constitution of nearly every country in the world in its original language(s), along with English translations for most non-English-speaking jurisdictions. The database also includes many historical constitutions, national constitutional histories, and direct links to scholarly commentary (e-books and journal articles) available on HeinOnline.  For more information, download the Quick Reference Guide.
  • Constitute
    Developed by the Comparative Constitutions Project at the University of Texas, this free resource provides access to the full text of almost every national constitution currently in force.  For non-English speaking jurisdictions, the texts are provided in English translation.  All constitutional provisions are tagged by subject, making it easy to compare.  For more information, watch the following video tutorials:  Searching, Filtering, Comparing, Pinning.
  • International Encyclopaedia of Laws - Constitutional Law
    This online resource features 47 jurisdiction-specific constitutional law treatises, as well as treatises on sub-national constitutional law for the following countries with federal systems of government:  Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Germany, the Russian Federation, South Africa, and the U.S.  Also included are the full texts of 43 national constitutions.
  • Constitutions of the Countries of the World, Call No.  K3157.A2 B54
    Constitutions of Dependencies and Territories, Call No.  K3157.A2 B441 1998
    These loose-leaf print collections are updated regularly and include both current and prior constitutions, along with helpful commentary and bibliographies. Handy if you want to compare multiple versions of constitutions from multiple jurisdictions.

National Legislation

  • The Foreign Law Guide
    Content within this subscription database is organized by country and by subject.  From the homepage, scroll down to the Countries menu to select the desired jurisdiction.  After the page refreshes, select the desired subject under the Laws by Subject heading.  In some cases, you may find a direct link to the full text of a law in its original language or in English translation.  In other cases, only a citation to a print source is provided.  Citations to subject-specific secondary sources also are included.
  • LegislationLine
    The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) maintains this collection of national laws on human rights and related subjects, including freedom of assembly, gender equality, hate crimes, and human trafficking.  Use the menu on the left  to browse by topic.  Scroll all the way down to browse by country.  Laws are provided in their original language or in English translation (sometimes both).
    • Jurisdictional Coverage:  All OSCE member states, which include all countries that are located wholly or partly within the European continent, including Russia and Turkey, plus the former Soviet republics in Central Asia, Mongolia, the U.S. and Canada.
    • Additional Topical Coverage:  The OSCE also maintains separate collections of national Criminal Codes and Constitutional Texts, many of which are available in both their original language and in English translation.
  • Global Regulation
    This user-friendly subscription database allows you to search by keyword in English across the national legislative databases and/or official gazettes of 90 jurisdictions worldwide.  For non-English speaking jurisdictions, machine-generated English translations are provided, as are links to laws and regulations in their original language.
  • GlobaLex
    This free resource includes legal research guides for nearly every jurisdiction in the world.  Each guide describes the jurisdiction's primary legal sources, including the names of print publications and links to electronic resources, if available.  Many guides also include links to legislative, judicial, and government agency websites, which often provide free access to certain types of legal information.
  • World Legal Information Institute (WorldLII)
    This free resource aggregates content from national and regional organizations which provide open access to legal information from their respective jurisdictions.  Although the interface is text-heavy and some links may be broken, it can still be a reliable source of information.  Select the desired jurisdiction from the Countries menu to access a list of links to laws by subject.  In some cases, you may find a direct link to a law in its original language or in English translation.  Coverage varies by jurisdiction and is selective, not comprehenive.