Refugee Protection Research Guide
This guide on refugee protection includes norms and principles of international law, focusing on refugee, human rights, and humanitarian law (or a combination thereof).
The focus of this research guide is refugee protection. The types of sources outlined below include norms and principles of international law, focusing on refugee, human rights, and humanitarian law (or a combination thereof). When researching in this area, one may also need sources of law (statutes, rules and procedures) from other jurisdictions. If you have questions, please feel free to contact the Wolff Library reference desk at 202-662-4195 or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also submit your question via this online form.
Locating Norms and Principles of International Law
Often you will need to locate international agreements and documents from various international organizations, such as the UN, the UNHCR, and other IGOs. For help locating treaties and agreements, see the Treaty Research Guide. For help locating documents issued by the UN and UNHCR, see Researching the United Nations.
To locate basic instruments and documents related to refugees specifically, see the following resources:
- Basic Documents on International Migration Law INTL K3275.A35 B37 1997
- Collection of International Instruments and Other Legal Texts Concerning Refugees and Displaced Persons INTL K3230.R45 A265 1995
- Conclusions on the International Protection of Refugees INTL K3230.R45 C66 1992 More recent conclusions can be found on the UNHCR website.
- Goodwin-Gill, Guy. The Refugee in International Law (2nd ed.) INTL KZ6530.G66 1996
- Refworld website has a wealth of information on the agreements and other supporting documentation.
- The International Humanitarian Law Database is available on the ICRC web site.
- UNHCR main site, as well as Country of Origin Information and Protecting Refugees pages.
- University of Minnesota Human Rights Library
Includes human rights instruments as well as refugee and humanitarian law.
- Guide to International Refugee Law Sources on the Web
Locating Relevant Foreign Law
For more in depth assistance with researching foreign and comparative law, see the Researching Foreign and Comparative Law research guide.
Great collection of constitutions and you can compare topics across multiple jurisdictions.
- HeinOnline World Constitutions Illustrated
Fabulous collection of current and older constitutions. Also provides links to scholarly commentary and articles (only to those available on
HeinOnline, so you should also search other journal databases).
- Constitutions of the Countries of the World INTL K3157.A2B4.
- International Constitutional Law
- Constitutional Law Links (WashLaw)
Asylum, Aliens, Citizenship and Nationality Laws
- Foreign Law Guide This online database is the #1 resource for foreign law research. See especially "citizenship and nationality" under the subject headings for each jurisdiction.
- International Immigration and Nationality Law INTL K3275.A48 1993
- Refworld Contains many of the laws in English for countries around the world.
- Gender Asylum Law in Different Countries : Decisions and Guidelines
INTL K3230.R45 G46 1999
- Guild, E. and P. Minderhoud, Security of Residence and Expulsion : Protection of Aliens in Europe INTL KJC6050.S43 2001
- National Implementation of Humanitarian Law (ICRC website)
To locate relevant books and journals in the Library, try title or keyword searching in the online catalog. Below is a list of some relevant titles.
- Benvenisti, Eyal et al., Israel and the Palestinian Refugees INTL K3230.R45 I87 2007
- Eggli, Ann Vibeke, Mass Refugee Influx and the Limits of Public International Law
INTL KZ6530.E38 2002
- Lomba, Sylvie da, The Right to Seek Refugee Status in the European Union
INTL KJE5124.L66 2004
- Ogata, Sadako N., The Turbulent Decade : Confronting the Refugee Crises of the 1990s INTL HV640.3.O45 2005
- Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, The State of the World's Refugees INTL K3230.R45 S675 Also available on the UNHCR web site.
- Berstein, Ann & Weiner, Myron, eds., Migration and Refugee Policies : An Overview
INTL JV6038.M54 1999
- Spijkerboer, Thomas, Gender and Refugee Status INTL K3230.R45 S66 2000
- Waldman, Lorne, Canadian Immigration & Refugee Law Practice INTL KE4454.W352 2005
Journals & Indexes
Many periodicals (both legal and non-legal) contain articles on human rights issues. Be sure to expand your search for articles beyond Westlaw and Lexis for a more global outlook. Consider using indexes and not just full-text sources for more comprehensive and historical coverage. For other indexes, see the Library's Using Articles for Legal & Non-Legal Research research guide.
- Cambridge University Press Journals
Full text access to journals published by Cambridge University Press. Search by title, abstract, or by full text. You can also limit by journal title or subject. Some relevant subjects besides law include African studies, history, latin american studies and history.
- Oxford University Journal Press Journals
Online access to journals covering legal, regional affairs, social sciences, and other subjects. Search by title, abstract, or by full text. You can also limit by journal title or subject.
- Legal Periodicals and Books (formerly ILP) and Legal Resource Index are two indexes that are more comprehensive than the full text on Westlaw and Lexis. These are not full text, so you can be somewhat general with your search terms.
- PAIS International (Public Affairs Information Service)
Want to find out if you can get electronic access to a journal article through the library? Just search for the title of the journal in Gulliver and look for the computer icon and any call number with the word electronic. You can also check the E-Journal Finder from the library homepage. To use the E-Journal Finder, type in the name of the journal, and see what sources will give you full-text electronic access. If we don't have the journal electronically, you can request the article through interlibrary loan.
There are many NGOs and institutions which are involved in refugee and related issues (especially human rights). Use the following directories to locate the relevant organizations. See also the Researching Human Rights and IGOs & NGOs research guides for detailed information about researching NGOs and for additional NGO directories.
- International Organizations List from Northwestern University Library
- UIA's International Organizations Web Sites Index Page
- University of Minnesota Human Rights Library, Refugee and Aid Links
- Refugee and Asylum Resources
Links to many Internet sites and includes a good list of available country condition reports.
- Guide to International Refugee Law Resources on the Web is written by a former UNHCR information specialist and offers many links including some full text articles, some national legislation, and case law.
- University of Michigan Law School Refugee Caselaw Site collects and indexes selected court decisions from Australia, Austria, Canada, France, Germany, New Zealand, Switzerland, United Kingdom, and the United States that interpret the legal definition of "refugee."
- University of Minnesota Human Rights Meta Search Engine allows users to choose up to 15 human rights and refugee sites to search simultaneously.
These electronic databases are available to GULC only.
Readex United Nations Index provides access to current and retrospective (1956-2000) UN documents and publications. Some full-text documents are available.
- Ethnic News Watch
Full-text collection of the newspapers, magazines and journals of the ethnic, minority and native press. Includes articles, editorials, columns, and reviews which provide a broad diversity of perspectives and viewpoints. Coverage is back at least to 1994.
- Human Rights Internet
This collection is a vast storehouse of international and a good starting point for conducting human rights research. Their databases include information on human rights organizations, bibliographic abstracts of the literature, bodies which fund human rights work, human rights awards, education programs on human rights and children's rights information.
- United Nations Treaty Collection
Includes the UN Treaty Series, Status of Multilateral Treaties Deposited with the Secretary General, and recently deposited multilateral treaties.
- Centre for Refugee Studies
- Council of Europe Human Rights Web includes conventions, case law, and other useful information.
- European Council on Refugees and Exiles
- Inter-American Commission on Human Rights includes basic documents, conventions, and ratification information.
- International Committee of the Red Cross
- United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
- United Nations High Commission for Human Rights includes documentation for all seven major human rights treaties.
- U.S. Committee for Refugees includes statistics, Internet resources, and news from the field.
- Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and Protocol
- Universal Declaration of Human Rights
- OAU Convention Governing the Specific Aspects of Refugee Problems in Africa
- Cartagena Declaration on Refugees
- Conventions on Statelessness
Many of these sites provide relevant laws, rules and procedures, and other useful information.
- Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
- U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
- Australian Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs
- Danish Immigration Service (English page available and includes some legislation)
- New Zealand Immigration Service
- United Kingdom Immigration and Nationality Directorate
Revised March 2007 (aeb)
Content Updated January 2008 (mms)
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