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International Law: General Sources: Soft law

This guide lists essential sources for researching general aspects of international law. For specialized topics, such as human rights and international arbitration, see the guide International Law: Specialized Sources.

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 of the organization or on its website, or in books, articles or websites covering the topic.

Books, Ebooks, Working papers, etc. 
Law reviews, journals, articles