Treaty FAQsBluebook treaty sourcesCitations, signatories, parties, status, subjectsUnited Nations CharterUnited Nations & League of Nations treatiesAdditional Multilateral, IGO & special subject treaty sourcesIf the U.S. is a partyBilateral treaties & treaty sources for other countriesCommentaries & travaux préparatoires (drafting history)Soft law
BITS: Bilateral investment treatiesICSID, NAFTA, WTO
The practice of international law by other statesU.S. practice of international law
Documents, legislation & cases, generallySelected country reports and booksUN human rights websites & search enginesUN Human Rights Council, Commission & CommitteeHuman rights sources for AfricaEuropean Union: Charter of Fundamental RightsCouncil of Europe: European Convention on Human RightsInter-American Court & Commission
I.C.J. and P.C.I.J.U.S. cases on international law
Official treaty sourcesUnofficial treaty sourcesTreaties in Force: Citations, signatories, parties, status, subjectsUpdating Treaties in Force: Citations, signatories, parties, status, subjectsPresidential statements, proclamations, etc.
Agreements, documents, legislation, & case law
Nuremberg TrialsICC International Criminal CourtICTY International Criminal Tribunal for the Former YugoslaviaICTR International Criminal Tribunal for RwandaSpecial Court for Sierra Leone
This is the "Soft law" page of the "International Law: General Sources" guide.
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International Law: General Sources   Tags: foreign & international law, international law  

This guide lists essential sources for researching general aspects of international law. For specialized topics, such as human rights or international arbitration, see the guide International Law: Specialized Sources.
Last Updated: Nov 20, 2017 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

Soft law Print Page

If it looks like a treaty, but... can't find it in standard treaty tools and collections, it may be "soft law" and not a treaty. Soft law is non-binding, but may indicate the objectives and principles that states are willing to support publicly. Examples often come from the economic, environmental, social, and human rights areas and may include General Assembly resolutions, declarations, e.g., the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, codes of conduct, guidelines, programs of action, and documents resulting from international conferences. See "Soft law," in Parry & Grant Encyclopaedic Dictionary of International Law (3d ed. 2009).


    Sources of soft law

    Texts of "soft law" might be located in documents of the IGO or other body that sponsored the international conference from which the document emerged, in the publications and official documents or on the website of the organization, in books, articles or websites covering the topic.

    Books, working papers, etc. 
    Law reviews, journals, articles


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