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Human Rights : Getting Started

Guide to Human Rights research and resources, including International Human Rights

What are Human Rights

The United Nations defines human rights as follows:

“Human rights are rights inherent to all human beings, regardless of race, sex, nationality, ethnicity, language, religion, or any other status. Human rights include the right to life and liberty, freedom from slavery and torture, freedom of opinion and expression, the right to work and education, and many more.  Everyone is entitled to these rights, without discrimination.” - https://www.un.org/en/global-issues/human-rights


This guide is designed to help users find resources on the topic of Human Rights Law. It is divided into 3 tabs: The "Getting Started" tab lists large collections of information available online. The "Primary Resources" tab lists courts, tribunals, international and regional human rights instruments, cases and legislation.  The "Secondary Resources" tab lists journals, books and other reports available online and in print. 

Large Collections of Human Rights Information - Online

These Online Resources are available freely on the Internet generally without a subscription or login, although individually linked resources may have subscription requirements. Descriptions are provided by the individual resources themselves.

  • International and Inter-Governmental Resources
    • United Nations Human Rights Documentation  Human rights are fundamental to the United Nations. The Preamble of the UN Charter states: "We the peoples of the United Nations [are] determined... to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small."
    • European Court of Human Rights The Library of the European Court of Human Rights has a rich collection of material on the European Convention of Human Rights, the European Court of Human Rights, as well as material on human rights, international law, national legislation and case-law.
    • EUR-Lex: Human Rights EUR-Lex is your online gateway to EU Law. It provides the official and most comprehensive access to EU legal documents. It is available in all of the EU’s 24 official languages and is updated daily.

  • Collections
    • Human Rights Library from the University of Minnesota one of the largest collections of more than sixty thousand core human rights documents, including several hundred human rights treaties and other primary international human rights instruments. The site also provides access to more than four thousands links and a unique search device for multiple human rights sites. This comprehensive research tool is accessed by more than a 250,000 students, scholars, educators, and human rights advocates monthly from over 150 countries around the world. Documents are available in nine languages: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Japanese, Korean, Russian, Spanish and Swedish. 
    • Human Rights Archive from Columbia University An initiative of CUL's Center for Human Rights Documentation and Research, the Human Rights Web Archive is an effort to preserve and ensure access to freely available human rights resources created mainly by non-governmental organizations, national human rights institutions, and individuals.
    • HURIDOCS (Human Rights Information and Documentation Systems) is an NGO that helps human rights groups gather, organise and use information to create positive change in the world. Since 1982, we have developed methodologies and tools that make it easier not only to manage collections of evidence, law and research, but also to analyse them for insights. Some resources require a subscription, some subscriptions are available free by request to academics (see for example "Mapping Death Row")
    • HeinOnline: US Treaty Library This library includes all U.S. treaties, whether currently in-force, expired, or not-yet officially published. It includes prominent collections such as the United States Treaties and Other International Agreements set (commonly referred to as the "Blue set"), as well as famous sets from Bevans, Miller, Malloy and others. [Requires Widener University Log-in]
  • Reports
    • Amnesty International Research Resources organized by Human Rights Topic or Country, including reports, newsletters and briefings.
    • Human Rights Watch  investigates and reports on abuses happening in all corners of the world. We are roughly 550 plus people of 70-plus nationalities who are country experts, lawyers, journalists, and others who work to protect the most at risk, from vulnerable minorities and civilians in wartime, to refugees and children in need.
    • Country Reports on Human Rights Practices from the U.S. Department of State, The annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, also known as the Human Rights Reports, cover internationally recognized individual, civil, political, and worker rights, as set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international agreements.