Top 19 Posts of ’19

By Jessica Pierucci

Happy New Year, DipLawMatic Dialogues Readers!

Five exploding fireworks in a dark sky

Leandro Neumann Ciuffo [CC BY (

2019 was a fantastic year for DipLawMatic Dialogues! We had nearly 21,000 views and over 12,000 visitors to the blog. Our posts were read worldwide, including over 15,000 views in the U.S., over 600 in Canada, over 600 in the United Kingdom, over 400 in India, nearly 400 in Australia, nearly 300 in Germany, nearly 200 in Hong Kong, nearly 200 in the Philippines, and the list goes on. We had 91 new posts, close to two posts a week, and so much great content within these posts.

Thanks to everyone who contributed to DipLawMatic Dialogues in 2019! Your contributions are what make this blog successful. You kept your colleagues informed on your takeaways from conference and webinar programs, teaching tips, what’s it’s like to be a brand new FCIL librarian, what’s happening at the reference desk, insights on your library’s collection, and so much more.

Looking ahead, we’re looking for new and returning contributors who have something they want to share with the rest of the FCIL-SIS community. We hope you’ll consider writing a post or two in 2020. It’s a great way to get involved in the FCIL-SIS!

Thanks to everyone who contributed to the blog this year, many of whom wrote multiple posts:

Jennifer Allison * Sola Babatunde * Charles Bjork * Christine Bowersox * Anne Burnett * Meredith Capps * Heather Casey * Catherine Deane * Lesley Dingle * Abby Dos Santos * Amy Flick * Christopher Galeczka * Erin Gow * Julienne Grant * Susan Gualtier * Sally Holterhoff * Caitlin Hunter * David Isom * Janet Kearney * Amelia Landenberger * Jootaek Lee * Jackie Magagnosc * Taryn Marks * Dinah Minkoff * Paul Moorman * Mariana Newman * Lucie Olejnikova * Michelle Penn * Jessica Pierucci * Jonathan Pratter * Marylin Raisch * Sarah Reis * Dennis Sears * Alison Shea * Joan Sherer * William Slomanson * Sue Silverman * Loren Turner * Latia Ward * Stephanie Wilson

Now for our top 19 of ’19!

  1. AALL 2019 Recap: Growing Out, Not Climbing Up, by Jennifer Allison
  2. From the Reference Desk: On Having to Say No, by Jonathan Pratter
  3. Go-To Resources for the Non-FCIL Librarian, by Janet Kearney & Michelle Penn
  4. From the Reference Desk: Is There An Annotated European Union Code?, by Amy Flick
  5. Creating Training Resources for GOALI, by Latia Ward
  6. New FCIL Librarian Series: Evaluating Databases, by Janet Kearney
  7. AALL 2019 Recap: Polishing Your Public Speaking: Beyond Picturing People in Their Underpants, by Christopher Galeczka
  8. From the Reference Desk: I Need a Topic for My Paper!, by Amy Flick
  9. Despatches on Brexit from BIALL 2019, by Alison Shea
  10. Locating UK and EU Guidance on Brexit, by Alison Shea
  11. Teaching FCIL as a Non-FCIL Librarian: Go-To Resources, by Janet Kearney & Michelle Penn
  12. Library of Congress and LLMC Announce Availability of the Indigenous Law Portal on LLMC Digital
  13. New FCIL Librarian Series: Spring Cleaning: Weeding the International Reference Print Collection, by Sarah Reis
  14. New FCIL Librarian Series: Advice to Prospective FCIL Librarians from a (Still) New FCIL Librarian, by Sarah Reis
  15. Collection Spotlight: Fordham Law, by Janet Kearney
  16. Food and the Intangible Cultural Heritage: A Mini-Research Guide, by Jonathan Pratter
  17. From the Reference Desk: Using Treaty Body Websites to Find Implementing Legislation, by Amy Flick
  18. AALL 2019 Recap: FCIL-SIS Schaffer Grant Presentation – African Law for Everyone: AfricanLII and Laws.Africa, by Loren Turner
  19. From the Reference Desk: U.S. Acquisition of Pacific Island Territories, by Amy Flick

From the Reference Desk: Carbon Trading Data Sources

By Amy Flick

“I’m looking for data on carbon trading and cap-and-trade, preferably with graphs. I’m doing a paper on California’s cap-and-trade program, and I’m looking for data on international carbon trading programs for a comparison.”

The reference department at MacMillan Law Library gets an increasing number of requests for data in recent years. Some law libraries have added a specialist librarian or social sciences expert to support empirical research, but at Emory we rely on the expertise of the Data Librarian in the Emory Center for Digital Scholarship, part of the main Woodruff Library, to assist our faculty and students with complex data and statistics projects. I am not qualified, at all, to do empirical analysis. I went to law school because I was told there would be no math – and then I went into bankruptcy law. Nicholas Kristof is right, I should have taken a class on statistics.

I am also only barely familiar with carbon trading.

But we do get statistical reference questions, so I will see if I can find a publication with tables, or a likely database, for the student to use for his project, leaving the interpretation of the data up to him. I’m with him on wanting graphs; if I’m looking at data, I want some visual interpretation.

California’s Air Resources Board has data on its Cap-and-Trade Program, with publications on market transfers, offset credits issued, and compliance reports. It even has video presentations on using its compliance data. The student was hoping to find graphs to include in his project, and publications like California Greenhouse Gas Emissions for 2000 to 2017  summarize years of data with multiple graphs.

California’s Cap-and-Trade program is also a revenue source, so data is also available in the California Legislative Analyst’s Office 2019-20 Budget for Natural Resources and Environmental Protection, which includes Cap-and-Trade revenue tables and graphs.

The student mentioned Canada as a possible jurisdiction for a comparison. Canada as a whole isn’t the simplest choice for him to work with, although Ontario or Quebec might be, since they also have cap-and-trade systems, linked to California’s. Canadian provinces have their own carbon pricing systems, with a federal carbon pricing system for provinces that haven’t enacted one or that don’t meet federal benchmarks. The publication Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change was helpful for explaining the Canadian system, and it includes some data and graphs. More current data is available in the Annual Reports on Canada’s Climate Plan and other greenhouse gas reports.

Another possibility for comparison is the European Union. Its Emissions Trading System is a Cap-and-Trade system operating in all EU countries plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway. The European Commission’s climate action pages include tables and graphs on emissions monitoring and progress, auction revenues, and individual member state emission profiles. The European Environment Agency has downloadable data on emissions and allowances. Getting away from EU sources, Business Insider even tracks CO2 European Emission Allowances as a commodities market.

There are some good sources for comparative research with data from multiple countries. The Canadian and EU reports led me to the National Communications to the secretariat of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. These include Greenhouse Gas Emissions data and projections, along with summaries of initiatives for emissions reduction.

The World Bank has a Carbon Pricing Dashboard on regional and national initiatives, with graphs, types of initiatives (carbon tax or emissions trading system), and revenue, with data starting at 1990. It includes California’s Cap-and-Trade system with many other systems for a possible comparison. The World Bank also has data on CO2 emissions. And its report on State and Trends of Carbon Pricing 2019 is filled with maps, graphs, and tables.

The International Carbon Action Partnership also has a 2019 Status Report on Worldwide Emissions Trading with summaries by country (and for the U.S., Canada, and China, by state or province) that include descriptions of ETS systems and infographics. ICAP also has an ETS Allowance Price Explorer. The ICAP ETS Map can be used to find factsheets by jurisdiction, including emissions, GHG reduction targets, carbon price, caps, and other information.

The statistical and data sources we found are complex, but there is data to be found on carbon trading systems. I found it all overwhelming, but the student was confident that he could find the data points he needed for a comparison with California and recommendations on alternative systems.

Call for Bloggers!

Happy new year to you all, and for those academics out there, happy start to a new semester!

As we gear up for a new year, we’re inviting you to contribute a piece to DipLawMatic Dialogues for this spring and summer.  We have a commitment for some posts this month and next, but have a lot of openings for March through June.

We are open to topics on anything of interest to foreign, comparative, or international law librarianship, but here are a few ideas of topics if you’re having difficulty landing on a submission topic.

  • Write about an interesting or challenging reference or teaching interaction.  These posts are really popular with our readership!
  • Does your collection have a unique focus or item?  We’d love to feature it in our Collection Spotlights series.  Tell us what’s special about your holdings!
  • Write a book review.  We can help you come up with a title if you are interested in doing one!
  • We love posts from different settings?  Are you a firm or government law librarian?  We’d love to know more about the aspects of FCIL work in those environments!
  • Do you have a resource that you love that doesn’t get a lot of mention?  Write about why you love to use it/how it’s helpful!
  • Are you passionate about a certain aspect of international or foreign law (international environmental law, human rights law, British law, Roman law, customary international law, or anything else)?  Write a post about something that fascinates you or a primer on good sources for researching in that area.

Contact Alyson Drake or Jessica Pierucci, the editors of DipLawMatic Dialogues, at or to volunteer.  We’ll work with you to set a date for the spring that works for you!volunteer

IALL 2019 Recap: International Environmental Law in Australia

By Julienne E. Grant

Professor Tim Stephens spoke to attendees on the final day of the IALL conference, October 30, 2019. He is Professor of International Law at the University of Sydney; an Australian Research Council Future Fellow; and Deputy Director of the University of Sydney’s Marine Studies Institute. The topic of Professor Stephens’s excellent presentation was “International Environmental Law in Australia: Old Problems, New Challenges.”

Photo of Professor Tim Stephens.jpg

Professor Tim Stephens, Professor of International Law at the University of Sydney.

The professor began his talk by defining International Environmental Law (IEL). He said that it is a type of public international law that “seeks to conserve/manage natural and cultural/built environments.” He added that IEL is becoming increasingly important around the world and that it operates somewhat like the concept of equity.

Professor Stephens explained that IEL is predominately treaty-based; there are currently hundreds of such documents in force, with Australia being a party to more than forty multilaterals. The speaker explained, however, that treaties to which Australia is a party are not self-executing; that is, there is no automatic implementation, and only the Parliament of Australia can implement treaties. The professor indicated that the division between federal and state responsibilities is extremely complex in Australia, a fact that other conference speakers emphasized. Here, Professor Stephens cited the Tasmanian Dam Case” [1983] HCA 21, which radically expanded the power of the Australian parliament in external affairs. Overall, he said, the federal system has complicated Australia’s IEL commitments.

The speaker also indicated that the federal Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC), although designed for the purpose of environmental protection, is not working; the federal government has not taken the lead on environmental management, leaving this to the individual states. He said that the Great Barrier Reef, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is under significant environmental pressure; there is, for example, a coral “bleaching” problem, most markedly in the north part of the site. UNESCO, however, has not placed the Great Barrier Reef on its “In Danger” list yet.

The professor pointed out, though, that Australia has been a strong supporter of IEL overall, noting the country’s interest in protecting its unique species and biodiversity (he believes Australia is experiencing an extinction crisis with regard to both). He also noted that Australia brought a case to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in 2010, accusing Japan of breaching several of its obligations under the 1946 International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling, as well as other international commitments to preserve marine mammals. Australia won the case (Australia v. Japan, decided March 31, 2014).

But the Australian government, Professor Stephens said, has taken an ambivalent stance on climate change because the country is a big user and exporter of fossil fuels. According to the speaker, there are weak emission targets in Australia, and the Clean Energy Future Act 2011 was repealed by the current government. He said that there are presently dozens of lawsuits in Australia related to climate change, and there is actually a separate Land and Environment Court in New South Wales (NSW). The current NSW government wants to override the federal “coal-friendly” administration. Gloucester Resources Limited (GRL) v Minister for Planning [2019] NSWLEC 7 has, however, changed the situation somewhat as dicta in that case suggests that climate change was a good reason to deny a construction permit for an open-cut coal mine. Professor Stephens called the language in that case “revolutionary,” as previously Australian courts did not look at anything related to IEL.

Professor Stephens concluded his lecture with the following thoughts:

  • IEL is being challenged significantly in the current geological era (Anthropocene), and we can expect to see a new round of IEL mechanisms;
  • Australian governments have generally been supportive of IEL treaties (but not always!);
  • Australia’s current federalist system has complicated its commitments to IEL;
  • The EPBC Act of 1999 has not been effective;
  • a new generation of environmental laws is needed in Australia, including a federal environmental act, monitored by independent institutions.

Overall, with regard to environmental protection, Professor Stephens believes that decision-making should be taken away from politicians and placed into the hands of scientists and other experts.

Professor Stephens’s PowerPoint slides for the presentation are posted on the IALL website.

Introducing…Bianca Anderson as the January 2020 FCIL-SIS Member of the Month

1. Where did you grow up?

I grew up three miles from where I work now, in Miami.  I count myself very lucky to be able to be able to not only work at my alma mater but to live in a community in which I have deep roots.

2. Why did you select law librarianship as a career?

I practiced immigration law mostly in a non-profit setting for almost ten years focusing mainly on deportation defense.  While I felt it was deeply important work that made a real impact on a personal level for my clients,  I became increasingly frustrated by inefficiency and inequity in the immigration system.  I decided it was a good time to make a career change.  My brother and sister-in-law were already librarians, and I always admired their dedication to the needs of their patrons and the contribution they as librarians could make on their patron’s lives.  I viewed law librarianship as an opportunity to use my legal education and knowledge while still in service of others, the aspect I found most appealing of my immigration practice.  The last two years, I have had the opportunity to teach an Introduction to Legal Research course tailored to non-native English speakers in our LLM programs, in addition to Foreign & International Legal Research.  Teaching is an entirely different aspect of law  librarianship, with a  whole new world of challenges and opportunities that continue to present themselves.  I am truly enjoying this new role and am more certain than ever that I made the right choice all those years ago.

3. When did you develop an interest in foreign, comparative, and international law?

As a natural consequence of my immigration practice, I often had to research foreign and international laws, particularly in regards to international human rights norms, country condition information, and foreign laws related to marriage and family.  In the years that I have been the Foreign & International Law Librarian here at UM, I have developed a deep fondness for the field.  The field is so diverse and rich, my work is never boring, and I love learning something new with every project I assist on.  I can’t deny that I also love the thrill of the chase, and I very much enjoy finding obscure materials that a student or faculty member regarded “unfindable.”  It’s a superpower!

4. Who is your current employer? How long have  you worked there?

I am Librarian Assistant Professor & Lecturer in Law at the University of Miami.  I have worked here a little over seven years.

5. Do you speak any foreign languages?

As the child of Cuban immigrants, I speak Spanish fluently.  My knowledge of Spanish deepened in my immigration practice as it was invaluable to communicate with my clients in their native language.  I have a reading fluency of French, having studied it for five years in high school and university.  Unfortunately, I have not had as much opportunity as I would’ve liked to improve my spoken French, but it does remain a goal of mine.

6. What is your most significant professional achievement?

I am probably proudest of my role in designing the Fall research workshop series for our library.  We found ourselves without an Instructional Services Librarian one Fall, and I was asked to design and run the workshop series.  In the past, the workshop series covered mostly substantive topic research sessions based on course offerings specifically for that semester.  I designed a Fall workshop series structured around basic skills needed to conduct legal research, based on AALL’s Principles and Standards for Legal Research Competency.  I called it the Legal Research Toolbox, and offered the following workshops: Creating a Research Plan, Keyword Selection, Terms and Connectors, Citators, Using Annotations Effectively, and Weight of Authority.  I was astounded and delighted by the overwhelmingly positive response.  In  the first semester we presented the Legal Research Toolbox Series, we had 63% increase in attendance to the year before and a 127% increase to the year before that. Those numbers are even more impressive when you consider that in we only offered six workshops, whereas in previous semesters we offered an average of nine.  I once again planned and coordinated the workshop series the following Fall, and our attendance levels continued to increase.  The coordination of the workshop series returned to the Instructional Services Librarian once the position was filled, and the new librarian in the role has continued to employ the structure and topics that I implemented for the Fall workshops, with the additions of workshops on Evaluating Sources, and Artificial Intelligence in Legal Research, which I have co-taught with him.  The attendance levels still continue to increase each Fall.  I am so glad to have been able to contribute to a service that students seek out and find helpful as they develop and improve their research skills.

7. What is your biggest food weakness?

Dessert!  I definitely have a sweet tooth and to me, a meal feels incomplete without a touch of something sweet at the end.  I have a particular weakness for lemon desserts- lemon cake, lemon cookies, lemon soufflé.  I can’t say no!

8. What song makes you want to get up and sing/dance?

I struggled way too long contemplating this, so I’ll break the rules and name a few.

My obsession over the last few years has been cast recording of the musical Hamilton.  I think Lin-Manuel Miranda is a true genius. Among my prized possessions are copies of the Hamilton and In the Heights librettos, signed by Mr. Miranda.   I’ve been lucky enough to see the show in Chicago  and on tour in Fort Lauderdale, and I have tickets to see the tour again in Miami in March! Much to my children’s shame and embarrassment, particularly my teenager, I like to break out into song, and lately, it is usually a song from Hamilton.  One of my standards at karaoke is “My Shot.”  I’ve been told it is truly an experience to witness!

Besides that I love all sorts of music- some favorites in no particular order- the Beatles, Beach Boys, Phoenix, Adele, Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran, Iron & Wine.  There are a few songs I just can’t resist dancing to, a couple recent ones are “Uptown Funk”by Bruno Mars and Mark Ronson and “Shake it Off” by Taylor Swift.

9. What ability or skill do you most wish you had (that you don’t have already)?

Can it be a make believe skill?  I wish I could teleport.  Just snap my fingers and be where I need to be in an instant.  I have a 4 year old and a 13 year old, and, well- most parents know the drill- there are dance classes, art classes, soccer practices, baseball practices, school events, parent teacher conferences, PTA meetings, homework, and projects, that all need to be attended to- and that’s just your typical Wednesday!

10. Aside from the basic necessities, what is one thing you can’t go a day without?

I am a bit ashamed to admit this, but I feel like I am missing a limb without my phone.  My entire existence (and my family’s!) is kept organize on that little device- calendars, reminders, to do lists, maps, notes, photos, emails, chats, all of it!  I do try to be aware of how much I use the phone and set rules for myself that I hope my kids will emulate- 1) no phone at the dinner table- the person sitting in front of you is more important than the screen, 2) not every minute of every day needs to be captured by a photo- I’d rather experience the moment than capture a picture of it, and 3) do only one thing at a time- no driving and cell phone, no watching television and cell phone, no walking and cell phone.

11. Anything else you would like to share with us?

I very much appreciate this group and my colleagues in the FCIL-SIS.  I never fail to be awed and inspired by the work all of you do, and I count myself fortunate to part of such a collaborative and supportive community.

GlobaLex November/December 2019 Issue is Live

By Lucie Olejnikova

The November/December 2019 Issue of GlobaLex is live featuring eight great updates: Egypt, Indonesia, Israel, Libya, Mexico, Switzerland, Uzbekistan, and FATCA – Citizenship Based Taxation. Webmasters and content managers, please update your pages. We thank all of our wonderful authors, new and established, for their continuous contributions and Happy Holidays everyone!


UPDATE: FATCA: Citizenship-Based Taxation, Foreign Asset Reporting Requirements and American Citizens Abroad by Andrew Grossman at

Andrew Grossman is a retired U.S. Foreign Service Officer who served in Seoul, Abidjan, London, Tehran, Paris, Algiers and Geneva. He holds the degrees of B.A. in Economics (Clark), LL.B. (Columbia), M.A. in L.I.S. (University College London) and of Licencié en droit européen et international, Maître & Docteur en droit (Louvain-la-Neuve) and is a member of the New York Bar. He now lives in Switzerland where he writes on private international law issues, especially in the fields of nationality and tax. His other work includes “Update: Finding the Law: the Micro-States and Small Jurisdictions of Europe” and “A Research Guide to Cases and Materials on Terrorism”.


UPDATE: An Overview of the Egyptian Legal System and Legal Research by Dr. Mohamed S. E. Abdel Wahab at

Prof. Dr. Mohamed S. E. Abdel Wahab (MCIArb.), Licence en Droit -LLB (CAI), LL.M (CAI), MPhil (MAN), Ph.D (MAN), is the Chair of the Private International Law Department at the Faculty of Law, Cairo University, Egypt, Founding Partner and head of International Arbitration, Construction and Oil & Gas at Zulficar & Partners Law Firm. Prof. Dr. Abdel Wahab is recognized as a world-leading arbitrator and arbitration practitioner on international investment and international commercial arbitration, Arab and African Laws, Islamic Shari’a, and online dispute resolution. He holds several visiting positions in Egypt, the UK, and the USA and teaches Private International Law, English Contract Law, Introduction to Anglo-American Law, Comparative Law, International Arbitration, Construction Law & Practice and Online Dispute Resolution.


UPDATE: The Indonesian Legal System and Legal Research by Dewi Savitri Reni and Juven Renaldi at

Dewi Savitri Reni (Vitri) received her Bachelor of Law Degree from Universitas Indonesia and her LL.M. Degree from University of California, Berkeley (Boalt Hall School of Law). She is a Fulbright Scholar and a member of the New York State Bar. Currently, she is a partner at Soewito Suhardiman Eddymurthy Kardono, Indonesia.

Juven Renaldi (Juven) received her Bachelor of Law Degree from Universitas Indonesia and he is currently an Associate at Soewito Suhardiman Eddymurthy Kardono.


UPDATE: Overview of Legal Research in Israel by Michal Tamir at

Prof. Michal Tamir is an associate professor in the Academic Center of Law and Science, Israel and the president of the Israeli Law and Society Association. She earned her LL.B. (Magna Cum Laude) from the University of Haifa in 1995. She then became a clerk for Israeli Supreme Court Justice Itzhak Zamir. After her admission to the Israeli Bar, she served as a legal assistant in the Supreme Court. She received her LL.M. (Summa Cum Laude, 1999) and her LL.D. (SJD) (2005) from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Her main work focuses on issues concerning administrative and constitutional law, the interactions between private and public law and between constitutional law and criminal procedure. She has published two books “Selective Enforcement” and “The State Comptroller: Critical Look”, in addition to many articles in English and Hebrew.


UPDATE: Libya’s Legal System and Legal Research by Mohamed Lafi & Mahmoud Salem Sawan at

Mohamed Lafi holds an L.L.B. in Law from the Misurata University in Misrata, Libya. He worked at a law firm focusing on corporate and commercial law, including the firm’s oil and construction clients. Between November 2018 and April 2019, Mohamed Lafi worked as Head of Programs in the Tripoli office of Lawyers for Justice in Libya (LFJL). In this capacity, he acted as the focal point for the organization in-country and managed relations with civil society organizations and state authorities.

Mahmoud Salem Sawan holds an LL.M International Commercial Law from University of Reading and an L.L.B. in Law from the University of Tripoli. He is a member and a certified lawyer by the Libyan Bar Association. Mahmoud joined Lawyers for Justice in Libya (LFJL) in 2017 as Transitional Justice Programme Assistant, and managed the collaboration with Libyan civil society organizations and local stakeholders. He also coordinated the Network for Monitoring and Archiving for Justice and provided technical support on human rights documentation in Libya. Since 2019, he works as Programmes Officer at LFJL, providing legal and technical assistance to different programs. Alongside his work at LFJL, he is a founding member of the Libyan Organization of Debates (LOD), in which he participates as a debater and trainer in creating an enabling environment for constructive dialogue and tolerance in Libya.


UPDATE: Researching Mexican Law and Mexican Legal System by Francisco A. Avalos at

Francisco Avalos was the Foreign and International Law Librarian at the University of Arizona College of Law Library until 2009 when he retired. He obtained his undergraduate degree in 1971 and his Master of Library Science in 1976 from the University of Arizona. He is the author of several books and articles on the legal system and history of Mexico. He served as Chair and Secretary of AALL FCIL-SIS and has made several presentations on the Mexican legal system at national conferences and conventions. Since his retirement he has published The Mexican Legal System: A Comprehensive Research Guide (3d ed.), The Legal History of Mexico: From the Aztec Empire to the Present, The Avalos Legal Glossary/Dictionary Translator and Other Related Fields of Study: English/Spanish Spanish/English. He also updated the Mexico section of the Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citations for the 19th edition. He serves as a special consultant to the Kozolchyk National Law Center.


UPDATE: The Swiss Legal System and Research by Martin Molina and Sandro Stich at

Martin Molina holds a license en droit (law degree) from the University of Geneva and an LL.M. in International Legal Studies from New York University. He is admitted to the bar in Switzerland and in New York and is a Partner at the law firm Kellerhals Carrard in Zurich.

Sandro Stich holds a Master of Law degree from the University of Lucerne, Switzerland, and a Master of Law degree from the University of Notre Dame du Lac, Indiana. Currently, he is a lawyer trainee at Kellerhals Carrard in Zurich, Switzerland.


UPDATE: Legal Research in Uzbekistan by Mirfozil Khasanov at

Mirfozil (Fazil) Khasanov is with a UNDP’s humanitarian project. Previously, he worked for the US and international human rights and humanitarian organizations in education, training and torture prevention projects.


For more articles, visit


From the Reference Desk: Technical Standards in Mexico: Researching Normas Oficiales Mexicanas

By Jonathan Pratter

Flag of Mexico: Alex Covarrubias, 9 April 2006. Based on the arms by Juan Gabino. [Public domain]

Technical standards are a complex field and there are a lot of them, but are they law?  That depends on where you are.  In the U.S., technical standards are voluntary in the sense that they are not enacted as a matter of state authority.  Of course, if you want your product or process to participate in the market, you had better be in compliance with the relevant technical standards in the industry.  In the U.S., the process of making technical standards is decentralized.  There are about 600 standard-setting organizations.  In Mexico, things are different.  There, technical standards emanate from the federal government and they are binding as a matter of law.  Mexico is a developing market economy, but it is the 15th largest economy in the world, as measured by gross domestic product.  Producers of goods and services in Mexico have to comply with the relevant technical standards.  This post provides an overview of the standard-setting process in Mexico and of how to find relevant technical standards.

The legal fountainhead is the Ley Federal sobre Metrología y Normalización (LFMN) (Federal Law on Metrology and Standardization), first enacted in 1992 and amended several times since.  Use the current version of the law, as found at the website Leyes Federales Vigentes (Federal Laws in Force).  This website is supported by the Chamber of Deputies of the Mexican Federal Congress, which makes it a quasi-official compilation of federal codes and legislation as currently in force.  There is also a Reglamento (Regulation) to the LFMN.

The LFMN either authorizes or institutes the bodies responsible for drafting and promulgating technical standards.  It also sets out the standard-setting process.  Binding technical standards are called Normas Oficiales Mexicanas (Official Mexican Standards) or NOMs.  The binding effect of NOMs derives from the definitional section of the LFMN (article 3(XI)).  A NOM is “the technical regulation of obligatory observance issued by the competent authorities.”

The LFMN creates the Comisión Nacional de Normalización (National Standardization Commission), which has an overall coordinating function in matters of technical standards.  For example, the Comisión is responsible for preparing the annual Programa Nacional de Normalización (National Standardization Program), which sets out plans for promulgating technical standards during the coming year.  Unfortunately, the Comisión does not have its own website, which makes it difficult to keep up with its work.

The LFMN also establishes the comités consultivos nacionales de normalización (national standardization consultative committees).  There are about 25 of these committees, each one dedicated to a particular sector of the economy.  The comités consultivos carry out the essential work of elaborating and promulgating technical standards.

The standard-setting process under the LFMN has essentially six steps:  1.  The intent to promulgate a NOM is entered into the Programa Nacional de Normalización;  2.  An anteproyecto (preliminary draft) of the NOM is made, together with a Manifestación de Impacto Regulatorio (Statement of Regulatory Impact);  3.  The relevant comité consultivo drafts the proposed NOM;  4.  The proposed NOM is published in the Diario Oficial de la Federación (DOF) (Federal Official Gazette) for public comment during 60 days;  5.  The comité consultivo responds to comments and the responses are published in the DOF;  6.  The comité consultivo publishes the final NOM in the DOF, stating when the NOM enters into force.

Finding NOMs is a challenge.  It is good that they are published in the DOF, which has an excellent website.  Also good is the fact that every NOM has a unique symbol.  For example, the recent Norma Oficial Mexicana establishing the requirements for operating a remotely piloted aircraft system in Mexican airspace has the symbol NOM-107-SCT3-2019.  A Google search on the symbol for the NOM can produce useful results.  There is an online Catálogo de Normas Oficiales Mexicanas.  In fact, there are two iterations of it, which work differently.  Searching by symbol (clave) is possible.  I recommend that, wherever possible, the version of the NOM of interest as published in the DOF should be used.

Finally, it is important not to confuse the Norma Oficial Mexicana (NOM) with the confusingly similar Norma Mexicana (NMX).  The latter are non-binding and are not enacted by the same method as described above.