Start Your Research: (7) Resolutions and Decisions of International Organizations

A basic introduction to international legal research in the Peace Palace Library. Your road map for approaching an international legal research problem. Step 7.

Continue your legal research with resolutions and decisions of international organizations. Although they cannot themselves constitute international law or serve as conclusive evidence of a rule of customary law, such resolutions do have value in providing evidence of existing or emerging law. This point of view has been acknowledged by the International Law Commission.

Focus your research on the actions of the United Nations and its various organs. As every Member State has been recognized and has a vote in the UN General Assembly, finding General Assembly resolutions that passed unanimously or near-unanimously may serve as an excellent starting point in the legal research process. Pay attention to the language of the resolution. Those with firm obligations versus those that are merely aspirational or advisory in nature are more likely to be considered valuable as evidence of customary international law.

A State’s conduct in relation to the resolution may support the development of customary international law as it shows evidence of general and consistent practice, and secondly evidence of opinio juris. To satisfy the last element, a legal researcher must find materials that reveal a State’s motivations for acting. Please, consider the Library’s Catalogue and Research Guides in finding your way.

Worth mentioning also are the excellent services of the UN Dag Hammarskjöld Library, New York. This library provides research and information to support the work of United Nations Member States. As an integral part of the UN Organization, the library also aids in the dissemination of UN information to a wider public audience through online services, and a global depository library network.

Step 6 ← Step 7 → Step 8

You might consider our Library Instruction on how to conduct legal research in the Library at all levels.