Customary International Law, General Principles of Law, and Other Sources

Research Guides & Background Information

Background Information

Department of State

Research Guides & Background Information


Domestic Law Concerning a Country's International Obligations

Resolutions, Declarations, and Legislative Acts of Intergovernmental

IGO yearbooks


Judicial Decisions of
International Tribunals

Court Decisions of Individual Countries Concerning International Obligations

Scholarly Works

Review Questions

Department of State Publications

The U.S. Department of State Digests provides some of the best sources for U.S. practice in international law.

Department of State Digests include analysis as well as excerpts from documents (e.g. treaties).

The Digest of United States Practice in International Law (1973-1988, 2000-) is the most recent digest; it had not been published in some years, but was revived in 2000 by a commercial publisher working with the Department of State. The documents cited in the print volume are available on the State Department's web site. The American Journal of International Law updates the Digest with a feature called “Contemporary Practice of the United States Relating to International Law.”

Earlier digests are important for historical research:

In addition to these digests, the Department of State publishes several compilations of documents that provide useful sources for research in foreign relations and U.S. practice:

Foreign Relations of the United States presents “the official documentary historical record of major U.S. foreign policy decisions and significant diplomatic activity of the U.S. government.” Unfortunately, there is a time lag of more than twenty years. Some volumes are available on the web.

U.S. Department of State Dispatch (which continued the U.S. Department of State Bulletin) published speeches, policy statements, fact sheets and other foreign policy information; it ceased publication in December 1999. This information is now available on the Department of State’s website . Back issues of the Dispatch are available on the archived Department of State’s website . Both publications are also available in the subscription databases LexisNexis (GENFED;DSTATE) and Westlaw (USDPTSTDIS).

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