Monday, January 25, 2021

Updated Globalex Research Guides on International Law

GlobaLex, a very good electronic collection created by the Hauser Global Law School Program at the New York University School of Law, has updated a number of its research guides relating to international law:

  • European Union –Tracing Working Documents: "In legal research, particularly in international and comparative law, it is often necessary to trace working documents, or travaux préparatoires, in order to get a clear view of how negotiations have affected the original draft of a document. The status of these documents varies greatly between different countries and organisations: while governments in some countries have long had a culture of openness, others have always preferred secrecy. Reports or articles may often refer to documents to which the author has had privileged access; often the sources are not indicated, and this can be very frustrating for researchers (...)The situation in the European Union is further complicated because some of the working documents involved originate in the European institutions, while others come from individuals or governments in the member states. In the formative years of the European Communities, which later evolved into the European Union, documents had a relatively informal status. Although many documents relating to the early treaties have been deposited in the official archives, they are not generally available in any other form. Because the proceedings of the institutions and of legislative or treaty negotiations have always been multi-lingual, many documents will only be available in French or German, although official documents were often translated into English even before the United Kingdom joined the European Economic Community in 1973 (...)  The EU has pioneered the use of electronic media in providing information and many official documents are now available online through the EU web server, Europa, and its legal service Eur-Lex, both of which provide information in all official EU languages. However, administrative processes and translation can often cause considerable delays in access, and some documents are never made public. This article aims to clarify some of the distinctions between different categories of working documents and provides details of some of the databases and collections that are essential for research into the workings of the European Union."
  • À la Recherche des Travaux Préparatoires: An Approach to Researching the Drafting History of International Agreements: "There are two good reasons why one would go in search of the travaux préparatoires to an international agreement (and/or ask for the assistance of a law librarian in doing so). Before we go into those reasons, what exactly are travaux préparatoires? The phrase is of course French and translates literally as 'preparatory works.' Synonymous phrases in English are 'negotiating history' or 'drafting history.' It is better to avoid using the phrase “legislative history” as a synonym. While they bear similarities, treaty interpretation differs significantly from statutory construction (...) The first reason for seeking out travaux préparatoires can be called the interpretive reason. If there is doubt or disagreement about the meaning of an international agreement, those charged with interpreting the agreement - it could be a court, or an arbitral tribunal, or anybody who is interested in the meaning of the agreement, including scholars -- will want to consult the travaux préparatoires for insight into the 'common intentions and agreed definitions' of the negotiators (...) There is another reason for consulting travaux préparatoires that has little to do with interpretation as a matter of law. We can call this other reason the genetic reason. There may be absolutely no doubt about the meaning of the treaty text; it is clear to every reader, even to a lawyer. Yet, we may take great interest in how the text of the agreement evolved into its final form. In other words, the evolution of the text has intrinsic historical interest."
  • Researching International Human Rights: "This article explains the procedures of the major international human rights systems because it is procedures that create the need to record or communicate. In other words, documents emanate from critical junctures in a process. The article does not touch on the content of the human rights themselves or explicate the websites that hold the documents (...) International human rights are based on treaties that have secretariats that monitor the contracting parties’ adherence, interpret the treaty, perhaps provide an enforcement mechanism, and provide other support to the members of the intergovernmental organization, potential victims of abuses, and other adherents of human rights. Contemporaneously with the sharp increase in the number of these intergovernmental organizations, information technology has taken on new forms, increased its reach to the entire globe, and decreased the cost of disseminating information. These two waves of development have combined so that now one can find an enormous portion of the documents one needs on international human rights online. The first part of this article is organized geographically. It covers the intergovernmental organizations that cover the globe, followed by those that cover the regions that have major human rights treaties. It does not cover Middle East because it doesn’t have such a system or any comprehensive human rights system. Following that the article will list both domestic and foreign human rights journals."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:10 pm


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