The Albert Sloman Library Guide to Human Rights


The Human Rights Centre at the University of Essex, formerly known as the Centre for International Human Rights Law, was established in 1983. The Centre is a forum for multi-disciplinary and inter-disciplinary co-operation in research, teaching and practice, with its membership drawn from the departments of Philosophy, Sociology and Government, as well as Law.

In 1983, the University of Essex established the first postgraduate degree in international human rights law in the United Kingdom. And, as the new Millennium began, the University introduced a suite of undergraduate human rights degrees - among the first in the United Kingdom and the world.

Following the example set by the 1993 Vienna Declaration which emphasises the inter-relationship between all human rights - civil, political, economic, social and cultural - the Albert Sloman Library aims to bring all of these elements together in its collection. The collection is hybrid in content consisting of official documents, books, periodicals, archival materials and electronic information sources, details of which are available from a variety of indexes, both printed and online. This leaflet aims to provide a brief introduction to the main tools for human rights research available in the Library.

The Albert Sloman Library: Human Rights Site

The basic source with which human rights students should become familiar is the Albert Sloman Library's Human Rights web pages, which includes links sections on how to find treaties and case-law, links to inter-governmental organisations, sections on human rights by subject and by region and a list of human rights related NGO's.


Reference Materials

Basic documents in international law Edited by Ian Brownlie. 6th ed. (2009) KZ 3092.B2

Basic documents on human rights Edited by Ian Brownlie. 6th ed. (2010) JC 571.B2

Blackstone's statutes international human rights documents edited by Alison Bisset. 9th ed. (2014) JC 571.B6

Further information: Albert Sloman Library Human Rights Directory: Treaties

For more information see the sections on individual organisations.


The main resources in the Library for international cases are the series International Law Reports found at class-mark KZ 199.I6 or online & Oxford Reports on International Law, both these resources contain decisions from many international courts such as the European Court of Human Rights, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, the International Court of Justice, and the United Nations Human Rights Committee.

For more information see: The Albert Sloman Library Human Rights Directory - International Case-Law  and the sections on individual organisations below.

United Nations


An excellent resource is the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights web site, which has a list of all human rights treaties with the full text and status information.

The UN also has a full-text database UN Treaty Collection which contains all UN international treaties plus information on status and reservations.

Further sources are available on the Albert Sloman Library


International Court of Justice

The main series of law reports from the ICJ is called:

International Court of Justice: Reports of judgments, Advisory opinions and orders 1947-1949; 1951-1979; 1981 onwards KZ 210.I6 and the E-Journal

This series contains the reports of the decisions of the Court in both the English and French. The official citation of the series: I.C.J. Reports, plus an indication of the year.

Other sources of ICJ judgments include:

ICJ website   - contains information on the current docket of the Court, contentious cases and advisory opinions. The material found on the web-site is uncorrected whereas the official reports series (above) have been checked for errors.

International Law Reports -

Oxford Reports On International Law -

Human Rights Committee

Cases heard by the Human Rights Committee are reported in several publications:

International Law Reports

Oxford Reports on International Law: International Human Rights Law

Treaty Bodies Database

Decisions and Views of the Human Rights Committee

A searchable website from the University of Minnesota Human Rights Library.

Other Committees

Treaty Bodies Database

Oxford Reports on International Law

Variable coverage at University of Minnesota Human Rights Library

Further information at Albert Sloman Library Human Rights Directory

Official Documents

The Library receives documents from all of the main Charter-based and Treaty-based bodies of the United Nations involved in the protection of human rights. Examples include the Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, the Human Rights Committee and the Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Committee. The documents cover a wide range of topics and purposes and include Special Rapporteurs' reports, country reports, Non-Governmental Organisation statements and records of meetings. It should be noted, however, that not all UN documents are made publicly available and the Library's collection is selective.

The documents are arranged in boxes on Floor 4 according to series (Class-marks JC 571.U63 - JC 571.U656). The series numbering is made up of a number of different elements, which the user might, at first, find daunting.

The lead element signifies the part of the UN that issued the document:


E/ Economic and Social Council

CAT/ Committee Against Torture

This is followed by a number of sub-divisions representing either different series of documents or different types of documents within a series:

A/48/206 General Assembly, 48th Session, doc. no. 206

Indicates the session of the UN body issuing the document


E/1997/116 Economic and Social Council, 1997,

Indicates the year the document was issued


S/RES/700 Security Council, Resolution, no.700

Indicates the type of document

E/CN.4/423 Economic and Social Council, 4th Commission (i.e. Commission on Human Rights), 423

The final element is simply a running number.

It should also be noted that amendments to the documents are signified by an element at the end of the document symbol:

E/CN.4/1997/31/Add.1 Addendum 1

E/1997/506/Corr.1 Corrigendum 1

E/1997/506/Add.1/Rev.1 Addition 1, Revision 1.

Web Resources

In addition to the Library's collection of these documents a large amount can also be found on the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights web site and also at:

Hammarskjöld Library

UNBISNet is the catalogue of all UN publications and documentation indexed by the United Nations Dag Hammarskjold Library at Geneva, it also includes many non-UN publications held in the collection of the Dag Hammarskjold Library.

Treaty-based bodies database

A searchable, full text, database covering documents issued by the Treaty Monitoring Bodies, covers jurisprudence, annual reports, general comments, state party reports, core documents. decisions etc. Coverage is expanding and at present covers most of the 1990's onwards.

UN Optical Disk System

The United Nations Official Documents System (ODS) is the electronic repository for official documents published by the United Nations. The full text of documents is accessible in PDF format in all the official languages of the United Nations--Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish. Documents are stored in two databases: UN documentation with comprehensive coverage beginning in 1993 and selected earlier coverage, and UN Resolutions, which includes the official records version of resolutions of the General Assembly, Security Council, Economic and Social Council and Trusteeship Council since 1946.

For documents from the Economic and Social Council, the Security Council and the General Assembly see:

UN web site

Further information:

Albert Sloman Human Rights Directory

Further Reading

Further information about research methods regarding the United Nations and human rights can be found in:

United Nations Documentation Research Guide

United Nations Documentation Research Guide on Human Rights

UN Human Rights Documentation: A guide to Country Specific Research by Penny L. Parker (1996)

Council of Europe

The Council of Europe has a distinguished record in the promotion and protection of human rights and economic, social, legal and cultural co-operation. The human rights student will become very familiar with the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights established under the European Convention on Human Rights (1950).

The majority of documentation relating to, and emanating from, the Council is shelved at JC 599.E7 on the Floor 4, although some reports have been shelved simply according to subject matter. The Library Search should be used for finding specific reports.


European Treaty Series J 273

The Council of Europe also has the full text of all its treaties (plus status information) available at the Council of Europe Treaty Office website:

Council of Europe: Treaty Office

Further information: Albert Sloman Library Human Rights Directory


Printed Series

The case law of the European Court of Human Rights and the Commission is shelved in the main Human Rights section at JC 599.E7

The main series are:

European Commission of Human Rights Decisions and Reports (often referred to as Decisions and Reports (D & R) JC 599.E7

Publications of the Court of Human Rights:

Series A: Judgments and Decisions. Vol.1-338 (1960-1996) JC 599.E7

Series B: Pleadings, oral arguments and documents. Vol.1-104 (1960-1988) JC 599.E7

All the above titles merge and continue as:

Reports of Judgments and Decisions Vol.I (1996)- JC 599.E7

Online & Web Resources

Cases under the Council of Europe system are available online on the following databases:


Is the official database for The European Court of Human Rights documentation and it contains the full text of practically all decisions plus Resolutions of the Committee of Ministers.

European Human Rights Reports (EHRR) JC 599.E7 and e-journal.

The European Human Rights Reports are a commercial version of reports of the European Court of Human Rights and are published by Sweet & Maxwell. The reports are available in The Library in print or electronic format (see links above).

International Law Reports (JUSTIS)

Oxford Reports on International Law


Further information: Albert Sloman Library Human Rights Directory

Official Documentation

Committee of Ministers

Documents emanating from the Committee of Ministers

Documents that can be accessed here includes:

Adopted Texts:

Includes summits, full-text recommendations (1979-), resolutions (1949-), declarations (1977-), human rights resolutions (1996-), plus Social Charter recommendations (1997-), and resolutions (1997-)

Other texts:

Bureau, Rapporteur and Working Groups

Human Rights (DH) Meetings

Parliamentary Assembly

Documents emanating from the Parliamentary Assembly include adopted texts, working documents (reports, committees), debates, verbatim records are available.

European Convention on Human Rights

Documents pertaining to the system under the European Convention of Human Rights can be found in the Library at JC 599.E7 or at the Council of Europe's Human Rights website

Directorate-General for Human Rights and Legal Affairs

The Directorate has overall responsibility for the development and implementation of the human rights and rule of law standards of the Council of Europe, including the promotion of democracy through law, the operation of relevant treaties and related monitoring mechanisms and the development and implementation of activities in these fields. The site includes information on the drafting of legal instruments, inter-governmental activities, steering committees, ministerial conferences, co-operation with member states and monitoring mechanisms.

Commissioner for Human Rights

The Commissioner for Human Rights is an independent institution within the Council of Europe, mandated to promote the awareness of and respect for human rights in 47 Council of Europe member states. The site includes sections on country visits and major themes such as co-operation with national human rights structures, eradicating discrimination, human rights defenders, and the rights of migrants.

For further Information see: The Albert Sloman Library Human Rights Directory.

Organization of American States (the Inter-American System)

The Organization of American States (OAS) officially came into existence with the signing of the Charter in Bogota, Columbia in 1948. Thirty-five sovereign states of the Americas are now members of the OAS with the aim to achieve an order of peace and justice, to promote their solidarity, to strengthen their collaboration, and to defend their sovereignty, their territorial integrity, and their independence.

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights was established in 1959 and the Inter-American Court was established in 1978 when the American Convention on Human Rights (1969) entered into force.


Inter-American Commission on Human Rights

This website provides the full text of all human rights and related treaties

Further information: Albert Sloman Library Human Rights Directory


Cases under the Inter-American System can be found:

Inter-American Court of Human rights web site:

Inter-American Commission on Human Rights Annual Reports and

International Law Reports

Oxford Reports on International Law

For further information see the Albert Sloman Library Human Rights Directory :

Official Documentation

Inter-American Yearbook on Human Rights JC 599.A5

Annual reports, country reports and other documents may be accessed on the Inter-American web site at:

For further information see the Albert Sloman Library Human Rights Directory at: 

African Union (formerly the Organization of African Unity)

The African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights was established in November 1987 under the 1981 African (Banjul) Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights, signed by members of the Organization of African Unity. On 9.9.1999, the Heads of State and Government of the Organisation of African Unity issued a Declaration (the Sirte Declaration) calling for the establishment of an African Union, with a view, inter alia, to accelerating the process of integration in the continent to enable it play its rightful role in the global economy while addressing multifaceted social, economic and political problems compounded as they are by certain negative aspects of globalisation.

The Library is expanding its collection of material linked to this organisation and has some material at class-mark JX 1393.P2 and JC 599.A4

Treaties, case-law and documents

The AU web-site contains the text of treaties, reports, documents, decisions and declarations, speeches and statements, news, information on member states and institutions of the AU.

African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights contains treaties, documentation e.g. activity reports, communiqués, state reporting, resolutions, declarations, etc.

Another good resource for AU documents is the African Resource Centre at Minnesota Human Rights Library including Annual Activity Reports, case-law, and treaties:

Full text case-law is also available on Oxford Reports on International Law

See The Albert Sloman Library Human Rights Directory for further sources:

The Organization For Security and Co-Operation in Europe

The OSCE, which was known until 1994 as the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe (CSCE), is a pan-European security organisation with 57 participating states (non-European members include the United States and Central Asian Republics). It addresses a wide range of security-related concerns, including arms control, confidence- and security-building measures, human rights, national minorities, democratization, policing strategies, counter-terrorism and economic and environmental activities.

Material is shelved at class-marks D 1058 (Floor 4) and JX 1393.C65 (Floor 4).

The official address of the OSCE is: and the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights is:

The OSCE web site contains a document archive which includes summit meetings, newsletters, the Permanent Council Journal, annual reports etc.

Non-governmental Organisations (NGOs)

The Library has acquired a large collection of booklets and reports produced by international and national non-governmental organisations such as Article 19, Human Rights Watch, International Commission of Jurists, Amnesty International and State-watch. Details of these publications can be found by searching the Library search engine

Many non-governmental organisations publish their material on the Internet; links can be found at the Library human rights web site:

The Library has all Amnesty International publications on microform at JC 571.A6 including: Country Reports from 1975 onwards and; Publications from 1962 onwards. Amnesty International reports are also available on the web at:

The library also receives all Human Rights Watch publications from Oct. 2000 to current and these publications are also available on the web at


The subject human rights embraces a wide field of possible study, thus relevant material will be found in many disciplines in the Library holdings, including politics (class-mark J, Floor 4), law (class-mark K, floor 4) and philosophy (classmark B, Floor 2). The Library search will enable you to find this material by using the keyword facility. For example, typing in human rights will find all the books with human and rights anywhere in the title or subject fields.

The main human rights collection is shelved at JC 571 and JC 599.

JC 571-JC 573

Books shelved at JC 571-JC 573 are books about the theory of human rights or the topic in its widest sense. They are arranged alphabetically according to author or title.

JC 599

Books shelved at JC 599 are about human rights in a particular geographical area and the collection is sub-divided alphabetically by country/area.

The most popular textbooks and important works are placed in the short-loan collection on the Entrance floor.

Dag Hammarskjöld Library: UNBISnet

UNBISnet is the catalogue of UN publications and documentation indexed by the United Nations Dag Hammarskjöld Library and the Library of the UN Office at Geneva. The database also includes non-UN publications that are held in the collection of the Dag Hammarskjöld Library and so is an excellent index to use when looking for books as well as UN official publications.


Periodicals may be found in the Library search engine by using keywords from the periodical/journal title. Owing to the multidisciplinary nature of the subject, relevant periodicals can be found in various subject locations. Some of the most frequently used are:

Human Rights Law Journal JA 1.H8

Netherlands Quarterly of Human Rights JA 1.S6 + Online journal  (2003 onwards only)

European Human Rights Law Review K 1.E765 + Online journal

Human Rights Quarterly JA 1.U6 + Online journal

Harvard Human Rights Journal JA 1.H2 + Online journal

Human rights law review K 1.H8 + Online journal

Human rights & international legal discourse K 1.H85 + Online journal

International Review of the Red Cross K 1.I68 + Online journal

International journal of human rights JA 1.I65 + Online journal

International journal of children's rights K 1.I65 + Online journal

International journal of refugee law K1.I662 + Online journal

Journal of human rights JA 1.J54 + Online journal

Journal of human rights practice K 1.J6184 + Online journal

See more comprehensive list here

Locating Periodical/Journal Articles

Many useful databases exist for students researching topics for human rights. The decision regarding which to use will depend on the nature of the subject concerned. For example, whether it has a political, legal or philosophical theme. Some databases, however, will cover all subject areas.

It should be noted that the Library will not hold all of the journals referred to in the following bibliographic databases but if an article is important to a post-graduate student than an inter-library loan may be requested. This is an expensive service (for the Library) and should be used selectively.

A direct link to journal article databases for Human Rights can be found on the Library's web-site at: rights

It should be noted that some of these databases provide bibliographic information only.

Encore Synergy

The library search engine 'article search' cross searches the databases (and others) listed below (apart from Lexis & Westlaw). Go to the link above and choose the 'article' tab. See Encore guide for more information:


HeinOnline provides comprehensive coverage from the inception of all publications carried, from volume one, number one, issue one onwards, to one or two years prior to the current year. As well as including leading U.S. scholarly law journals, there are also many non-US titles included, such as the Modern Law Review, Cambridge Law Journal, British Yearbook of International Law, Law Quarterly Review, and many more. The collection is growing fast, with countries of publication covering Canada, Australia, New Zealand, UK, Korea, Singapore, South Africa, etc. & contains approximately 1400 journals.

IBSS (International Bibliography of Social Science)

Includes: International bibliography of political science; International bibliography of social and cultural anthropology; International bibliography of sociology and covers the time period 1951 onwards.

Lexis Library 

Established in 1980 in the UK, LEXIS-NEXIS is an online legal research tool. It provides access to full-text online legal services - with over 2 billion documents gathered from 28,000 sources - including: UK reported and unreported cases; English legislation; Legal journals; UK current awareness library; EU law; Commonwealth law; World-wide legal sources; and International law.

Philosophers Index

Index and abstracts from books and over 300 journals of philosophy and related interdisciplinary fields and covers the subjects aesthetics, epistemology, ethics, logic and metaphysics. 1940 to date.

Web of Science

This database gives access to the Social Science Citation Index and the Arts and Humanities Citation Index.

Westlaw UK

Westlaw UK contains full text legislation, case law, law reviews, texts and newspapers from across the world. Includes Legal Journals Index - an index of legal periodicals covering the period 1986 onwards with selected full text Sweet and Maxwell Journals e.g. European Human Rights Law Review.

Regional Information

Finding information on particular countries and regions of the world can be particularly difficult, and it is important to bear in mind that the material may only be available in the language of that particular country and is not translated. Nevertheless there are some good resources on the web, for example, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, both of these organisations produce country reports.

Other Sources

UN Treaty Bodies database - contains the periodic state reports submitted by each country that is a party to the human rights treaties.

US Country reports on human rights practices - produced by the US Department of State

Nations (U.S. Library of Congress) - an alphabetical site by country providing links to internet sites for the: constitution; executive; judiciary; legislative and; other general links, for each country listed.

Further information

The Albert Sloman Library Foreign and Comparative Law sites: Guide to Finding Foreign and Comparative Law

Foreign and Comparative Law sites

See also:

Penny L. Parker UN Human Rights Documentation: A guide to Country Specific Research (1996)


Ph.D., M.Phil and some LL.M. and MA dissertations completed at the Human Rights Centre since 1984 are available for consultation in the Library, while all new ones are added to stock as they become available.  A list can be accessed from the Library Essex Theses site and theses can also be searched for in the library search engine using author or title.

Users of the Library can also find out details of theses completed in other universities. The main database is:

ProQuest Dissertations and Theses

Searchable index of theses and dissertations with a strong US bias 1861-

If users would like to obtain a theses mentioned in either of the databases, the inter-library loans section of the library should be consulted. As this is an expensive service (for the library) the Inter-library loans facility should be used selectively.


Paul Sieghart Memorial Human Rights Archive.

This collection was accumulated by the late Paul Sieghart (1927-1989), law reformer, international arbitrator, writer, broadcaster and past Chairman of Justice (British section of International Commission of Jurists). It contains the texts of lectures, drafts of his books and articles, assorted photocopies, press cuttings, and documents and booklets relating to human rights issued by various international organisations.

Sir Vincent Evans Archive

This collection of case files, assembled by Sir Vincent Evans, concentrates upon his period as a judge of the European Court of Human Rights and his membership of the of the Human Rights Committee which implements the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Charter88 Archive

Charter88 is an independent organisation that campaigns for a modern and fair democracy. The Library collection contains information about the organisation and its aims, council papers and minutes, executive papers and minutes, publications and press releases, information on activities, press cuttings, audio-visual material, correspondence, financial records and memorabilia.

Bernie Hamilton Archive

In 2007 the Library acquired the books and papers of the renowned human rights scholar and activist Bernie Hamilton (1945-2005) from his widow Dr. Mirilee Pearl. Bernie Hamilton, who taught at universities in both the UK and the US, is perhaps best known for his work with organisations such as Doctors for Human Rights (DHR), Minority Rights Group International (MRG) and the Leo Kuper Foundation, a body dedicated to the eradication of genocide worldwide. The Archive comprises some 14 metres of specialist documents, papers and reports, which are currently housed in the Library's Special Collections, and a substantial number of books on law, human rights and politics which have been integrated into the Library's main collection of printed works.

Right to Health Unit Archive

In 2002, Professor Paul Hunt (Department of Law/Human Rights Centre) was appointed to the post of United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right of Everyone to the Enjoyment of the Highest Attainable Standard of Physical and Mental Health ("right to health" or "right to the highest attainable standard of health"). This Archive contains documents on the work that Professor Hunt has carried out in his capacity as Special Rapporteur (Aug 2002-July 2008), as well as the work of other staff at the Right to Health Unit, Human Rights Centre, working in support of the mandate. The collection comprises of monographs that will be added to the main collection and a number of boxes of papers, reports and specialist documents covering areas such as: essential medicines; undocumented migrants/asylum seekers; right to water; right to food and housing; environmental health; human rights and health in India; documents on the situation in Darfur; impact assessments; indicators; participation and accountability; guidelines and more. These documents will be listed in due course.

Scholars wishing to consult any of the collections should contact the Sub-Librarian (Archives & Collection Development) for details of the terms of access.


Caroline Checkley

The Albert Sloman Library

University of Essex




Tel: (01206) 873181

Fax: (01206) 872289



The University of Essex
Wivenhoe Park
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