Responding to the Fragmentation of International Law - WorldLII's International Courts & Tribunals Project
Canadian Law Library Review (2005) Vol. 30 (1), 13- 21
19 Pages Posted: 10 Apr 2013 Last revised: 7 Aug 2013
Date Written: April 9, 2005
International law arising from the decisions of international Courts and Tribunals used to be relatively easy to find in the sense that it arose from a only small number of permanent Courts and Tribunals. Since World War II there has been a proliferation of more than thirty permanent international Courts and Tribunals, both on a regional basis, and subject-specific ones such as those dealing with human rights, trade, the law of the sea, and international criminal law. While almost all of these Courts and Tribunals provide their decisions in some form via the Internet, no previous facilities allow all of those decisions to be searched in combination or in a uniform format. In this sense, there has been a ‘Balkanisation’ or fragmentation of international law.
After a year of development, the World Legal Information Institute (WorldLII) through its International Courts and Tribunals Project provides search and browse facilities over 20,000 final decisions in full text, from twenty such Courts and Tribunals. In most cases the decisions go back to the start of the Court or Tribunal. Databases and decisions continue to be added, and the collection kept up to date. Interlocutory or interim decisions and procedural matters are generally not included, only the final decision(s) in each matter. The decisions can be searched together, in convenient groupings (‘All Human Rights Courts and Tribunals’, ‘All Trade-Related Courts and Tribunals’ etc), individually, or in any desired combinations.
The decisions are hosted on the most appropriate available Legal Information Institute, either or a regional basis (e.g .BAILII for European decisions) or on a linguistic basis (e.g. Droit Francophone for decisions in French), and all other decisions are hosted on WorldLII. It is a decentralised project of the world’s LIIs.
WorldLII also provides an extensive Catalog and Websearch of Court and Tribunal websites from around the world, providing convenient browsing access and some search facilities over more extensive information than the decisions themselves. Taken together, these facilities make up WorldLII’s International Courts and Tribunals Project.
Any international Courts and Tribunals not yet included are invited to join the Project.
(Note: This was the first paper published about what subsequently became the International Law Library on WorldLII.)
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