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Foreign, Comparative, and International Law: Intergovernmental Organizations

International Governmental Organizations

Also called IGOs and Intergovernmental Organizations, these entities are created by a treaty or agreement between two or more states to work together on issues of common interest. This page will point out some major resources for the most commonly researched IGOs, and point researchers to additional resources.

Treaties and IGOs

  • An IGO must be created by a treaty to exist as a legal entity. Coalitions or groups of states, like the G8 or Middle East Quartet, are not international governmental organizations in a legal sense.
  • IGOs are not, however, to be confused with treaties which do not create an organizational body, like NAFTA or GATT.
  • Consult the International Law: Public page of this guide for more information on locating treaties.

IGO Website Tips

Many IGO sites are organized in similar ways. These are general tips for locating the information you want.

  • Membership, organizational structure, history, and governing documents are often found in the About section
  • Official reports, studies, yearbooks, bibliographies, and conference proceedings are often called Publications
  • Day-to-day records, like agendas, transcripts, letters, and preliminary drafts of documents are often called Materials
  • Speech transcripts of IGO leaders may be found in a News section
  • Don't hesitate to search for information or documents in the site's searchbox

United Nations

Many United Nations decisions, documents, and resolutions are now available on the UN Official Documents System website. This database includes the following:

  • Full-text, born-digital UN documents published from 1993 onward
  • Scanned documents published between 1946 and 1993
  • ODS does not have the following types of materials: documents issued before 1993 that have not yet been digitized, press releases, sales publications, such as the Yearbook and the Treaty Series, and documents that do not have a UN symbol. 

HeinOnline’s United Nations Law Collection contains exact reproductions of major United Nations legal publications. Finding Aids and additional features make it easy to find a UN Treaty by entering the UNTS Citation, search for a UN Treaty, and link to law review articles that cite a UN Treaty. 

There are a few ways to access UN materials on campus.

European Union

EUR-Lex is an official European Union site which hosts laws and other public documents, including treaties, legislation, preparatory acts, case law, and other sectors, published in 24 official languages of the EU. EUR-Lex also publishes The Official Journal (OJ) of the European Union.

Library Resources

The Law Library offers a variety of resources to help conduct your research into the European Union, including a research guide, a collected of electronic resources, and several print treatises.

World Trade Organization

The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) was a multilateral treaty intended to promote international trade by reducing or eliminating trade barriers, taking effect in 1947. The GATT was succeeded by the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 1995. The WTO is currently the only global international organization dealing with the rules of trade between nations.

Find the official documents of WTO councils, committees, working groups, and other organizations through the WTO's official document portal.

The following official WTO web pages are also excellent sources of research fodder:

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