Public International Law



Public International Law is perhaps best described as an authoritative language, used by States, international organizations, individuals and other participants in the international legal order to interact with each other. International law is a value-oriented jurisprudence used by policymakers and other members of the international community (governments, diplomats, international judges and arbitrators, elements of the “UN family,” etc.) to make difficult choices based on shared values. The traditional definition of international law has broadened in scope to include additional topics or branches of international law. For detailed research guidance on individual topics of public international law, see other research guides on special topics Air (and space) law, Cultural heritage, Environment, Food, Health, Labour, Law of the Sea, Sport, Territory and Water.

This Research Guide is intended as a starting point for research on Public International Law. It provides the basic legal materials available in the Peace Palace Library, both in print and electronic format. Handbooks, leading articles, bibliographies, periodicals, serial publications and documents of interest are presented in the Selective Bibliography section. Links to the PPL Catalogue are inserted. The Library's classification index code 38a. Public International Law : General Principles; Various Essays and subject heading (keyword) Public International Law are instrumental for searching through the Catalogue. Special attention is given to our subscriptions on databases, e-journals, e-books and other electronic resources. Finally, this Research Guide features links to relevant websites and other online resources of particular interest.



Reference works


Leading articles


Periodicals, serial publications


New titles

1. Völkerrecht
Völkerrecht / von Dr. Dr. h.c. Matthias Herdegen. - 14., überarbeitete und erweiterte Auflage. - München : C.H. Beck, 2015. - XXIV, 484 pages. ; 20 cm. - (Grundrisse des Rechts) First edition: 2000. - Includes bibliographical references and index. - 2015
Keywords: Public international law, International law, Manuals,

2. The Migration of Constitutional Ideas to Regional and International Economic Law
The Migration of Constitutional Ideas to Regional and International Economic Law : the Case of Proportionality / Valentina Vadi In: Northwestern Journal of International Law and Business = ISSN 0196-3228: vol. 35, issue 3, page 557-589. - 2015
Keywords: Proportionality, Constitutional law, Community law, International economic law, Investment arbitration, International dispute settlement, Judicial dialogue,

Librarian's choice

  • Beham, M., M. Fink, R. Janik, Völkerrecht verstehen: Lehrbuch, Wien, Facultas, 2015. Showcase item


    Das vorliegende Lehrbuch bietet eine konzise und zugleich innovative Darstellung des Völkerrechts. Die Aufbereitung des Stoffs aufgrund von Erfahrungen aus der Lehre und mit praktischen Beispielen soll dem Leser das Verständnis auch hochkomplexer Bereiche erleichtern. Ein Schwerpunkt liegt dabei auf den konkreten Fragen, die sich im Zusammenspiel von Völkerrecht und der österreichischen Rechtsordnung stellen. Analogien und Verweise zum innerstaatlichen Recht ermöglichen dabei einen leichteren Zugang zum Verständnis des Völkerrechts. Der Abdruck von Fallpassagen sowie zentraler Rechtsbestimmungen in deutscher Sprache bietet eine rasche Orientierung hinsichtlich der relevanten Materialien. Weiterführende Fragen am Ende jeden Kapitels erlauben eine zielorientierte Prüfungsvorbereitung. Index und Kapitelverweise sollen zugleich die Verwendung als Nachschlagewerk und Einführung in die verschiedenen völkerrechtlichen Teilgebiete ermöglichen.

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  • Harris, D., S.Sivakumaran, Cases and Materials on International Law, 8th edition, London, Sweet & Maxwell, Thomson Reuters, 2015.


    Students of Public International Law require access to an overwhelming variety of materials which are not always easy to obtain. Cases and Materials on International Law draws together in one volume an exhaustive selection of cases, materials and background information on the subject, which is supplemented by authoritative commentary and expert analysis.


    Widely recognised as the leading text of its kind, the eighth edition of Cases and Materials on International Law incorporates all major developments in the subject, including:

    • International Court of Justice judgments on the jurisdictional immunity of states (Germany v Italy) and on the obligation to prosecute or extradite in cases of torture (Belgium v Senegal), as well as the Court’s advisory opinion on the legality of the declaration of independence in respect of Kosovo
    • New judgments of the International Court of Justice and the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea on maritime dispute.
    • The International Law Commission’s Guide to Practice on Reservations to Treaties
    • The use of force in Crimea, Libya and Coté D’Ivoire
    • Developments in the UN human rights system
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  • Crawford, J., Hasard, Ordre et Changement: Le Cours du Droit International, Leiden, Boston, Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 2015.


    Comprendre le droit international, c’est en comprendre l’évolution dans le temps. L’ambition de ce cours est de promouvoir cette forme de connaissance, qui implique de se départir des présentations habituellement rencontrées dans les manuels, axées sur des thématiques comme les sources, les sujets, les compétences. Etudier le cours du droit international, c’est étudier ses problèmes irrésolus, qui, de ce fait même, mettent en cause son autonomie en tant que discipline. Or ces problèmes sont, sinon résolus, du moins atténués par une lecture novatrice de nos pratiques juridiques communes et de notre histoire partagée. L’accent est ainsi mis sur le processus, qui forme en vérité le droit international. En effet, les institutions internationales – au premier rang desquelles les Etats – se trouvent dans un rapport dialectique avec le droit : elles le façonnent tout en étant façonnées par lui, elles l’élaborent tout en étant élaborées par lui. Mais, pour illustrer ce rapport dialectique, le cours fait abondamment référence à la pratique. Partant, il est également un cours classique de droit international.

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  • Lung-chu, C., An Introduction to Contemporary International Law: A Policy-Oriented Perspective, 3rd ed., New York, Oxford University Press, 2015.

    498 A 13

    An Introduction to Contemporary International Law: A Policy-Oriented Perspective introduces the reader to all major aspects of contemporary international law. It applies the highly acclaimed approach developed by the New Haven School of International Law, viewing international law as an ongoing process of decision-making through which the members of the world community identify, clarify, and secure their common interests. Unlike conventional works in international law, this work is organized and structured in terms of the process of decision making in the international arena, and references both classic historical examples and contemporary events to illustrate international legal processes and principles. Using contemporary examples, this Third Edition builds on previous editions by contextualizing and dramatizing these changes with reference to seven features that characterize the New Haven School approach to international law: participants, perspectives, arenas of decision, bases of power, strategies, outcomes, and effects. This new edition highlights the major developments in international law since 2000, including the right to self-determination, the expanding scope of international concern and the duty of states to protect human rights, the trend towards greater accountability for states and individual decision-makers under international law, and the vital role individual responsibility plays in the emerging field of international criminal law.

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  • Thirlway, H., The Sources of International Law, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2014.

    Thirlway, H., The Sources of International Law, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2014

    The question of what is, and what is not, part of international law is of course fundamental. Traditionally, treaties between states and custom (state practice) have been seen as the primary means by which international law is created. These two sources, along with the 'general principles of law', are specified in the Statute of the International Court of Justice (Article 38), and this text has long been treated as generally authoritative. However, whether this is still an adequate definition of the sources of international law, and how they may operate in modern international society, has been questioned in significant ways. Taking Article 38 ICJ Statute as starting-point, this book provides a careful assessment of all the recognized, or asserted, sources of international law.

    • Provides a clear and accessible guide to the sources of international law
    • Comprehensively analyses the classic sources of international law as well as more controversial modern bases for international obligations, such as decisions by international organizations
    • Offers an invaluable resource for students of international law, as well as for practitioners and scholars needing to revisit the key principles underlying the sources of international law
    • Written by one of the key authorities in the field, with more than 40 years' experience
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  • Currie, J.H, C. Forcese, V. Oosterveld and J. Harrington (eds.), International law : doctrine, practice, and theory, Toronto, Irwin Law, 2014.

    Currie, J.H, C. Forcese, V. Oosterveld and J. Harrington (eds.), International law : doctrine, practice, and theory, Toronto, Irwin Law, 2014.

    International Law: Doctrine, Practice, and Theory is an innovative and unique volume which crosses the traditional boundaries between textbook, casebook, and scholarly monograph. The book is designed primarily as an introduction to the system and substance of international law. It is also a convenient and comprehensive reference work on the most important aspects of this burgeoning field.

    The book includes introductory materials on the nature, history, and theory of international law from an international relations, as well as a legal, perspective. Carefully selected and edited primary materials — including treaties, UN documents, and cases — take readers to the very sources of the rules and principles that comprise modern international law. Extensive and critical commentary on, and analysis of, these primary materials guide the reader to an understanding of the rules, their strengths and weaknesses, and their place in the international legal system. Descriptions of contemporary real-world situations provide concrete context to the discussion.

    Remarkable for both its depth and breadth, International Law: Doctrine, Practice, and Theory sets a new standard for the study of international law in Canada. It will make an invaluable addition to the reference collection of practitioners, judges, and scholars working in this ever-increasingly important area of modern law.

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  • Bibliotheek van het Vredespaleis viert 200 jaar Nederlandse Grondwet

    On Saturday 29 March, the Netherlands will celebrate the 200-year anniversary of the 1814 Constitution. During the so-called Grondwetfestival (Constitution Festival) government buildings normally off limits to the public, like the Catshuis and Trêveszaal, will open especially for this occasion. The Peace Palace Library will also participate in this event with an interactive tour – in Dutch – explaining the relationship between the Dutch Constitution and international law. [Further information in Dutch]

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  • The Hague Academy of International Law: Celebrating 90 Years of Academic Excellence

    On July 24, 1923, ten years after the opening of the Peace Palace, the Hague Academy of International Law was solemnly inaugurated in the Peace Palace ‘to teach subjects which are most important from the point of view of theory, practice, legislation and international jurisprudence, in particular from deliberations of conferences and arbitral awards’ (Art. 3 of its statute adopted in 1914).

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  • Immunities in Public and Private International Law - 9th Session of the Seminar for Advanced Studies, 13-19 January 2013

    Each year the Hague Academy of International law, one of the most renowned academic institutions in Europe, holds a seminar devoted to various aspects of public and private international law. The theme of this year’s seminar will be: ”Les immunités en droit international public et privé” (Immunities in public and private international law). This Programme of Advanced Studies will take place from 13 to 19 January 2013 at the Academy building in The Hague.

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  • When Röling Waves Advanced Towards the Shores of International Law

    Invitation to lecture about the influence of Röling’s work on international law practice and scholarship by Prof. Nico Schrijver, organized by the Peace Palace Library. The lecture takes place on Wednesday 22 June, 2011, at 17.30-19.30 (lecture starts at 18.00). The location is the Historic Reading Room of the Peace Palace Library. Entrance is free.

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  • The Influence of NGOs on International Law

    From a traditional point of view, International Public Law has been understood as a set of rules produced by states in order to regulate relations between them. Since the end of the Cold War, the role of NGOs in international law is growing in importance and their activities are reaching the remotest parts of the world. In this blog, I will briefly discuss how NGOs have transformed international law as well as how they continue to contribute to the development of international law.

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  • In memoriam: Sir Ian Brownlie CBE QC (1932-2010)

    Sir Ian Brownlie, the second from the right on the photo, taken at the International Court of Justice when he was arguing the Nicaragua-Honduras case for Nicaragua. The great British international lawyer, Sir Ian Brownlie, died on January 3th 2010, in a car­-accident while on holiday with his family in Egypt. His name is a […]

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  • First Lady of International Law

    Tuesday last week the First Lady of International Law, Rosalyn Higgins, President of the International Court of Justice bade farewell to her colleagues at the Court in The Hague, after serving nearly fourteen years as judge and as its President.
    This event coincided with the presentation of her latest book “Themes and Theories. Selected speeches and writings in International Law” (OUP 2009). An impressive collection of her thoughts over the last forty years. Ten chapters on various aspects of international law, reflected in articles, speeches, lectures and in her work as a member of the International Court of Justice.
    Oxford University Press kindly donated this two volume set to the Peace Palace Library, completing the collection of Higgins’ publications.

    The Library hopes that Dame Higgins, having spent so many years in The Hague, the Legal Capital of the World, will continue to be inspired by its excellent possibilities for research in international law.

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  • UN Audiovisual Library of International Law

    The United Nations Office of Legal Affairs launched the Audiovisual Library of International Law. The Audiovisual Library aims to provide free, scholarly resources to students and practictioners around the world, particularly in regions where there are few resources for the study of international law.

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See also

More Research guides on Public International Law

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