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5 Resources to Research Human Rights Cases

The wide range of human rights bodies across the world, from local, national and regional to international systems, has led to a better documentation of human rights cases.  We have assembled five useful resources to research human rights cases. These range from large databases, to case summaries and factsheets. Wherever you are on your human rights journey, these services are sure to benefit you.

World Courts

This resource consists of a searchable database of various human rights documents, including judgments, decisions, interim measures, advisory opinions, and other orders.  The documented cases derive from regional human rights bodies (except European ones), some UN treaty bodies, international criminal tribunals, and some sub-regional courts. Although it doesn’t contain everything, it is the most comprehensive human rights case law database, comprising of over 23’300 decisions from 36 different institutions. It is simple to use – you can type anything into the search box, and results can be filtered by source.

World Legal Information Institute

This website provides a database of case law from a range of sources, including sub-regional courts, human rights courts and commissions, international criminal tribunals, UN treaty bodies, and other international adjudicatory bodies. Although the European Committee of Social Rights and the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights are not included, select judgments from the European Court of Human Rights are available. You can view a list of decisions from each body, and this will also tell you when the list was last updated. The website provides over 1800 databases from 123 jurisdictions, and thus has a wide range of useful documents and cases.

Human Rights Law Centre

If you are looking for up-to-date cases on specific issues, this website has case summaries on a wide range of cases, from a number of jurisdictions – including national, regional, and international courts and tribunals. This resource is especially useful as it provides case summaries, so if you are not looking to read the entire case, but merely need an overview, this is the place to go. The site is laid out in chronological order (newest first), and styled similarly to a blog. However, it is completely searchable, so if you are looking for a particular case, or a certain topic or right, you can search a keyword to discover what you need. Each summary is tagged with the major issues and rights it interacts with, so this resource is particularly helpful for those who do not know of a certain case, and instead are looking to do research in a particular area.

Oxford Public International Law

This website is not a comprehensive database, but rather a map of 50 landmark human rights cases. These are cases which have set precedents, and are the most important cases to know within their respective areas of law. Each case has a description of what it was about and how it was concluded, as well as a link to a free article or report on the case – for those who are looking to discover it in more detail. The 50 cases showcase a variety of international, regional, and national human rights mechanisms, as well as a wide range of rights that have been recognised. They can be viewed in a list, or in an interactive map. Such a resource is especially useful for someone who may not have much knowledge on human rights case law, as it removes the need to do in depth searches, and provides important cases for the reader to easily view.

Major Bodies’ Websites

Human rights bodies themselves also publish cases on their websites. If you know what case you are looking for, or which body you are specifically interested in, then the source website for that body can be a great resource.

United Nations: You can search any decision from a UN treaty body using this tool on their website. This includes views and other documents concerning individual complaints from all eight bodies that currently accept complaints. The search tool allows you to filter by geographic region or state, by treaty body, by document type, and by date.

European System: All judgments and decisions from the European Court of Human Rights can be on their website. This includes judgments and decisions from the former European Commission on Human Rights. The documents are searchable by many different criteria, such as state or date, as well as keywords and exact phrases. Summaries of the most important judgments, organised by topic, can also be found on the website.

Inter-American System: All judgments, orders, and other documents from the Inter-American Court of Human Rights can be found online, whilst thematic reports from the Inter-American Commission are available here. Some of the documents may only be available in Spanish, but many of them, especially those considered most important or relevant, have been translated into English and are available on the databases. Searches can be filtered by language, as well as country, date, and type of document.

African System: All decisions from the African Commission and all decisions from the African Court are available online. These comprise of a full list of all decisions and judgments issued by the African Commission and the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights. They are organised chronologically, and can be filtered by state, violated article, or outcome.

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Human Rights Careers

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