Public international law is sometimes called “the law of nations” because it governs the relationships among national governments and international organizations. Topics include environmental, trade, and human rights issues. Private international law governs the choice of law that applies when there are conflicts between individual parties in different countries. Topics include contracts, marriage and divorce, and jurisdiction.
Foreign law involves the national law of a sovereign nation, such as French law. Depending on the country's legal system, foreign law may include constitutions, laws, cases, customary law, regulations, executive declarations, and more. Availability of translated materials varies, and research may necessitate navigating a patchwork of free and subscription databases.
Comparative law studies the differences and similarities between the laws of different countries or legal system.
The best way to start your international and foreign legal research is to find the right research guide. This guide highlights the best places to look for country-specific and subject-specific research guides. It also contains tips for finding articles on international or foreign law—if someone else has already done the hard work researching another country's laws, you can use their findings as a shortcut. Last, this guide provides advice on citing to international & foreign law, which can be especially tricky due to gaps in the Bluebook's coverage.
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