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

Additional Human Rights Instruments

In addition to the core international human rights instruments drafted under the auspices of the United Nations, there are many other treaties and soft law instruments that safeguard human rights.  Use the resources described below to help you identify and locate these instruments.

Directories of International Instruments

  • Universal Human Rights Instruments
    The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights maintains this directory, which includes both legally binding treaties and soft law instruments.  For each treaty, the text and the date of entry into force are displayed, along with a link for downloading the full text.
  • International Human Rights Instruments By Topic
    This directory, which is part of the University of Minnesota's online Human Rights Library, also includes a mix of treaties and soft law instruments.  For each treaty, you will find links to the full text in multiple languages, the date of entry into force, and citation information. Cautionary Note:  The directory is no longer updated regularly.
  • Electronic Information System for International Law (EISIL)
    EISIL is a free resource maintained by the American Society of International Law.  Click on "more information" below the name of a treaty to view its date of signature, date of entry into force, authentic languages, and citation information.   Cautionary Note:   The EISIL database is in the process of being updated and migrated to a new platform.  Many links to the full texts of treaties are temporarily broken.  If you encounter a broken link, you can use the citation information provided to retrieve the full text elsewhere.

Directories of Regional Instruments

Subject-Specific Collections of Human Rights Instruments

  • Global Health & Human Rights Instruments
    The O'Neill Institute for Global Health Law has assembled this collection of treaties and soft law instruments pertaining to health and human rights.  Use the red filters to sort by legal status (binding or non-binding), by region, or by date.
  • International Humanitarian Law (IHL) Treaties
    The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) maintains this database of IHL treaties, which govern the conduct of warfare and the treatment of prisoners and non-combatants.  While scholars continue to debate whether IHL is a separate field of study or a subset of human rights law, there is no dispute that the two are closely related.  For additional guidance on researching IHL, consult the Georgetown Law Library's War Crimes Research Guide.
  • International Labor Standards Conventions
    The International Labour Organization's NORMLEX database offers the most comprehensive collection of treaties on labor standards, including those that prohibit forced labor and guarantee the right to collective bargaining, among many others.  Treaty texts may be viewed in Web browser in multiple languages.  Note that the database includes some older treaties that have been abrogated, superseded or withdrawn.