This guide highlights the central human rights treaties and instruments for the international (UN) human rights system and each of the regional human rights systems. To find additional treaties and instruments relevant to your particular topic or region of interest, you may find it helpful to consult:
To facilitate cite-checking, links to some of the treaty sources mentioned in the Bluebook are provided below.
A variety of institutions interpret and apply international human rights law through monitoring activities, court proceedings, and other adjudicative procedures. Most of these institutions post their recent decisions, reports, and other publications on their websites. Some older materials may be available only in print or microfiche.
Documents related to UN human rights monitoring mechanisms are available on their websites linked below. You can also do an aggregated search using the Universal Human Rights Index, the charter-based bodies document search, the UN Treaty Body Database, or the Jurisprudence Database.
Each of the core international human rights treaties has a corresponding treaty monitoring body (also called a treaty body), a committee of independent experts that monitors implementation of that treaty.
Important documents to look for include:
The treaty bodies are:
The Special Rapporteurs, Working Groups, and other Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council are independent experts that monitor human rights related to a particular country or thematic issue.
All member states of the United Nations undergo a Universal Periodic Review of the human rights situation in the state, conducted under the auspices of the Human Rights Council. Documentation related to the UPR includes reports from the state, UN bodies, NGOs, and the Human Rights Council.
Major bodies that interpret and apply international human rights law (in particular the European Convention on Human Rights and other regional instruments) include:
Major bodies that interpret and apply international human rights law (in particular the American Convention on Human Rights and other regional instruments) include:
Ad hoc tribunals and truth and reconciliation commissions have been established in many countries following massive human rights abuses. The United States Institute of Peace has a list of truth commissions, though it's not necessarily comprehensive, as new tribunals and commissions continue to be established.
The following collections aggregate records from multiple tribunals and commissions:
Many tribunals and commissions, especially those that were established recently, have websites where they post records including founding documents, court/commission decisions, and reports. When viewing websites available in multiple languages, it may be helpful to switch to the vernacular, as some websites have not translated all of their content into English.
Records of some tribunals and commissions are also available in print and microfiche in Diamond Law Library. You can find them by searching by subject or keyword on Pegasus.