In the early days of the world wide web, the appearance of an indeterminate assortment of international legal documents on the internet led the American Society of International Law to launch the ASIL Guide to Electronic Resources for International Law. The idea was to have an electronic guide to electronic materials, freely accessible to international law researchers around the globe. Now the ERG, as it is commonly known, is the most frequented section of the ASIL’s award-winning website.
Currently there are eight chapters <www.asil.org/resource/home.htm> that are critically revised and updated on a six-month basis. Rather than just compiling lists of links, the authors discuss the parameters and vagaries of electronic research in their fields of expertise. They set out basic strategies to find international legal materials and examine what resources are available on international environmental, economic and criminal law, private international law, human rights, treaties and the United Nations. One chapter explains how to find information using listserves, newsgroups and other networks as research tools.
Each chapter is arranged in a logical fashion to aid the researcher. In some cases the author outlines general search strategies for the particular subject area, and then links to specific aids such as specialized periodical indexes and bibliographies, before drilling down to organized listings of links to primary resources.
For example, the international environmental chapter, by Anne Burnett (University of Georgia School of Law), organizes links to subject-relevant sections of a wide variety of international organizations -- the UN and its Specialized Agencies, ASEAN, Council of Europe, the EU, WTO, NAFTA, OAU, OECD, OAS and more. Later, she identifies and links to secondary sources and online discussion groups.
David Levy’s (ASIL) chapter on private international law specifies those international organizations that are producing conventions, model laws, legal guides, and other documents and instruments related to issues such as commercial arbitration and sales of goods. There are links to the UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules, the UNIDROIT Conventions on International Financial Leasing, and the Hague Conventions on Private International Law that cover taking of evidence, child abduction, and service of documents abroad among others.
The criminal law chapter, by Gail Partin (Dickinson School of
Law, Pennsylvania State University), links to international, regional,
and national courts, as well as to law enforcement organizations such as
INTERPOL. She guides researchers to websites that address special categories
of crimes -- war, environmental or drug-related, not to mention terrorism
and genocide -- as well as to statistical and clearinghouse information
Jean Wenger (Cook Country Law Library) in her chapter on international economic law presents “an overview of electronic resources in this dynamic and evolving area of law.” She divides the material generally into “International Trade Law” including export-import materials, ISO and ICC information, as well as treaty sources; “International Financial Law” from such organizations as the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), MIGA, IFC and the World Bank; “Regional Economic Integration;” “International Development Law;” “Private International Law” and “International Business Regulation” which includes subsections on competition, e-commerce, environment, and taxation.
The more than 800 links covered in the eight chapters are provided in two access modes: incorporated in a full-text narrative, or in outline form as “Quick Links.”
The ERG is managed and edited by Marci Hoffman, (Georgetown University School of Law), who also authors the chapter on human rights. Other authors include Jill McC. Watson (ASIL) on treaties, Lyonette Louis-Jacques (University of Chicago School of Law) on “lists, newsgroups and networks,” and Paul Zarins (Stanford University) on the United Nations.
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