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Public International Law


What is public international law? 

Public International Law is composed of the laws, rules, and principles of general application that deal with the conduct of nation-states and international organisations among themselves as well as the relationships between nation-states and international organisations with persons, whether natural or juridical. Public International Law is sometimes called the "law of nations" or just simply International Law. It should not be confused with Private International Law, which is primarily concerned with the resolution of conflict of national laws, determining the law of which country is applicable to specific situations. 


Dictionaries and Encyclopaedias

The Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law (UniMelb staff & student access) is a comprehensive online resource containing over 1600 scholarly articles on every aspect of public international law.

Parry & Grant brings together terminology and descriptive information on international law. Its alphabetical arrangement offers concise but substantial information on essentials of international law such as Legal terms as used in international law; Significant doctrines; Prominent cases, decisions and arbitration; Important incidents; Judicial and literary figures; Treaties and conventions; Organizations and institutions; and Acronyms. This is available in both print and as an e-book.

Oxford Bibliographies - International Law (UniMelb staff & student access) provides concise and authoritative scholarly commentary and bibliographical guidance on many international law topics, arranged alphabetically. More on the topics included.


The Effect of International Law on Domestic Law 

Books on this topic are shelved at KC 86 and KC 334.1 on Level 5 of the Law Library. Also check the catalogue for E-books.

Books that usefully compare many countries include:

See also:

See also:

Alter, Karen J, 'National Perspectives on International Constitutional Review: Diverging Optics' in Erin Delaney and Rosalind Dixon (eds) Comparative Judicial Review (Edward Elgar, 2018) Chapter available on SSRN (open access)


International Law - Historical Documents


History of International Law Timeline

The History of International Law Timeline (open access from Oxford Academic) is a concise map of 'the broad history of public international law with particular attention paid to the signing of major treaties, the foundation of fundamental institutions, the birth of major figures in international law and milestones in the development of some of the field’s best-known doctrines'. The timeline begins with the Treaty of Tordesillas in 1494. 


Books on the History of International Law 

Oxford University Press has compiled a useful reading list of open access book chapters on the History and Theory of International Law

See also:


Other Online Research Guides 


Books on Researching International Law


International Legal Research Tutorial 

This step by step tutorial is from Duke University.


Citing international law documents using AGLC4 

Part IV (pp 133-210) of the Australian Guide to Legal Citation (4th ed, 2018) provides information on citing:

  • Treaties
  • United Nations Materials
  • International Court of Justice and Permanent Court of International Justice
  • International Arbitral and Tribunal Decisions
  • International Criminal Tribunals and Courts
  • International Economic Materials
  • European Union Materials

Guide Author 

This Research Guide is created and maintained by the MLS Academic Research Service, Melbourne Law School.

Please contact us at law-academicresearch@unimelb.edu.au with corrections, suggestions or comments about the Guide.