February 2018 GlobaLex Issue Now Live

By Lucie Olejnikova

The February 2018 issue of GlobaLex is now live, featuring four articles. We are pleased to bring you two new articles and two great updates. GlobaLex is an electronic publication dedicated to foreign, international, and comparative law research.

An Introduction to International Fisheries Law by Abdullah Al Arif at http://www.nyulawglobal.org/globalex//International_Fisheries_Law.html

Abdullah Al Arif is a Senior Lecturer at the Department of Law, Daffodil International University, Bangladesh. He is currently on study leave and writing his doctoral thesis on ‘Achieving Sustainable Marine Fisheries in Bangladesh: A Legal and Policy Analysis’ at Macquarie Law School, NSW, Australia. He has recently published an article entitled ‘Legal Status of Maximum Sustainable Yield Concept in International Fisheries Law and Its Adoption in the Marine Fisheries Regime of Bangladesh: A Critical Analysis’ in the International Journal of Marine and Coastal Law.

International Humanitarian Law by Thamil Venthan Anathavimayagan at http://www.nyulawglobal.org/globalex//International_Humanitarian_Law.html.

Thamil Venthan Ananthavinayagan holds an LL.M. from Maastricht University, The Netherlands and has submitted his PhD with the National University of Ireland, Galway. He is currently a lecturer for international law, international humanitarian law, and international criminal law at Griffith College, Dublin. Prior to joining Griffith College, he was a Fellow and research assistant at the Irish Centre for Human Rights in Galway, Ireland. Thamil has also studied civil/public and criminal law in Germany at the universities of Bonn and Marburg, with particular focus on international law.

UPDATE: Guide on Researching Chinese Mass Media Law by Alex “Xiaomeng” Zhang at http://www.nyulawglobal.org/globalex//China_Mass_Media_Law1.html.

Alex Zhang is the Head of Public Services and Lecturer in Law at Stanford Law School, USA. She received a B.A. in Philosophy and a Chinese Law Certificate from Nanjing University, China, and an M.A. in Philosophy from Tulane University. She attended the University of Kansas Law School earning her J.D. with a certificate in International Trade and Finance Law in 2006. She also received an M.S.I from the University of Michigan, School of Information in 2009. Before joining Stanford, Alex was a senior Foreign, Comparative, and International Law Librarian and Adjunct Professor of Law at University of Michigan Law School, USA.

UPDATE: Legal Information Institutes and the Free Access to Law Movement by Graham Greenleaf, Philip Chung, and Andrew Mowbray at http://www.nyulawglobal.org/globalex//Legal_Information_Institutes1.html.

Graham Greenleaf AM is Professor of Law & Information Systems at UNSW Australia, and Co-Founder, AustLII. Dr Philip Chung is Associate Professor of Law at UNSW Australia and Executive Director, AustLII. Andrew Mowbray is Professor of Law and Information Technology, University of Technology, Sydney (UTS), and Co-Director, AustLII.


For more articles, see http://www.nyulawglobal.org/globalex//index.html.

New Year, New Start: Introducing ERIG’s Current and Upcoming Projects

By Sherry Xin Chen


The main mission of the Electronic Research Interest Group (ERIG) is to “provide information and support to librarians on online resources of foreign, comparative and international law research”. To carry out our mission, we plan to engage in three projects in the New Year:

First, we will maintain and update the FCIL-SIS “Jumpstart” pages with the list of FCIL specialists organized by jurisdiction/region, language or topics. Over the years, more specialists have joined the list and the areas of expertise we can offer are expanding. We sincerely appreciate the specialists’ voluntary service to the FCIL community.

Second, we will continue the “Resource Review” project started in 2017. This project aims to evaluate new and useful FCIL resources for both veteran FCIL librarians and general law librarians who intend to explore a new territory. Each review is individually authored and appears in the FCIL Newsletter. To ensure the consistency of our reviews, each author evaluates the resource using seven criteria including its popularity, accessibility, authoritativeness, comprehensiveness, user-friendliness, currency, and ability to answer both common and rare questions.

For the past one year, our group has completed seven reviews, two of which have already made their debut on the October 2017 FCIL Newsletter. In the New Year, we are considering the following seven resources for review:

  1. Global Regulation (subscription);
  2. Library of Congress, International Tribunals Archive (free);
  3. OUP Max Planck Encyclopedia of Comparative Constitutional Law (subscription);
  4. The Encyclopedia of Private International Law from Edward Elgar (subscription);
  5. HeinOnline: Multinational Sources Compared (subscription);
  6. UN iLibrary (free to just read; subscription for PDF download);
  7. The Constitution Project, https://constitutionproject.org (free).

Your comments and suggestions about the criteria we use to review the resources or our list of future candidates are very welcome. Please feel free to send your comments to Sherry Xin Chen at sherry.xin.chen@bc.edu.

Sensing FCIL members’ strong interest in hearing from experts about their experience in selecting FCIL electronic resources, we are currently considering a third potential project. The project may involve a series of interviews with experts about their tips and experience on how to select FCIL electronic resources. In the 15 to 20 minutes’ interview, questions we ask may include:

  • What do you see as the current trend in FCIL resource selection in terms of print v. digital?
  • What are some of the new FCIL resources acquired in your library?
  • What are some of the factors that you consider while acquiring new resources?
  • Tips on working with vendors?

As we are still working on the details of the third project, please send your suggestions or other comments to sherry.xin.chen@bc.edu.

From the Reference Desk

By Lora Johns


Image via Pixabay

Do chimpanzees have habeas corpus rights?

I admit I did not have a snappy response at the ready when I opened a patron’s email asking whether apes have “personhood rights,” accompanied by an NBC News article about an animal lawyer in New York. “I understand that two cases from Argentina — in 2014 and 2016 — have dealt with the rights of animals and whether habeas corpus can apply to them,” asked the patron. “Is there someone in the Library who can check Argentine legal materials to see if the decisions are available?”

The news article my patron had included with his request dealt with a chimpanzee named Tommy, a former animal actor. His lawyer Steven Wise has been fighting since 2013 to have courts in New York recognize Tommy’s habeas corpus rights as a way to protect his right to proper treatment (Tommy had been beaten by trainers and living in a cage without sufficient enrichment).

Buried deep in the article was a reference to Judge María Alejandra Mauricio of Argentina who, in November 2016, ruled that a chimpanzee named Cecilia was a “nonhuman legal person” with “inherent rights.” Two years earlier, the same judge deemed that an orangutan named Sandra also had “personhood” rights. Both animals were transferred to a sanctuary in Brazil to live out their lives as autonomously as possible.

Armed only with the judge’s name, the two years, and the fact that the case occurred in Argentina, I went digging. Happily, the NBC article linked to a BBC article about Sandra (the orangutan), mentioning that she lived in the Buenos Aires zoo. It also mentioned the name of the legal group representing her – AFADA.

I speak and read Spanish, meaning I had an easier time navigating the thicket of legal documents than if I were armed only with Google Translate and a prayer. I first searched Google to see if any Spanish news sources had reported on the cases (and whether they would point me to the correct court). A contemporaneous article about Cecilia announced that she had won her case and been transferred to a sanctuary in Brazil. Another article described Sandra’s successful habeas case as “unprecedented on a worldwide level” and – very helpfully – mentioned the court where the ruling was made – Sala II of the Cámara de Casación Penal, a federal court that deals with extraordinary remedies. Yet another article described the cause of actionamparo– another excellent breadcrumb.

Having thus greatly expanded my arsenal, I found not only the 2014 and 2016 rulings, but a related 2015 ruling as well. The hint about the court made it very easy to find documents using Argentina’s Judicial Information System. Sure enough, the rulings gave a detailed explanation, complete with expert testimony, of the hardships Sandra and Cecilia had suffered in captivity and why the judge thought they were entitled to rights as nonhuman beings. Cecilia and Sandra will get to live out the rest of their lives in wildlife sanctuaries, free of cages and cruelty. The Nonhuman Rights Project has provided a translation of Cecilia’s winning judgment if you, like me, are fascinated and want to read more.

All in all, it looks like our simian cousins are enjoying increasing legal rights from Buenos Aires to New York.

Here are some helpful resources if you, too, find yourself researching Argentine law:

  • GlobaLex’s Argentina page provides a high-level overview of the Argentine court system. In essence, to research cases there, you should know at minimum where it originated geographically and the subject matter of the case.
  • Even if you don’t have all the information, the Judicial Information Center allows searches using some other criteria.
  • The website of Argentina’s court system, Poder Judicial de la Nacion, is a good source of legal documents if you already have some information to go on.
  • For non-Spanish speakers who use Chrome, the Google Translate Chrome plug-in makes it very easy to translate words and sentences just by highlighting them.
  • Learn about certain (fascinating!) legal mechanisms that exist in Argentina but not the U.S., including courts of cassation, which hear appeals but do not reexamine facts, only reviewing the law, and the action of amparo, an extraordinary remedy found in many Latin American jurisdictions that protects any basic individual right, implicit or explicit, that a person believes is being violated by another law.

Unveiling ERIG’s New Project: Evaluating Popular and New FCIL Sources

By James Hart

Starting from this October, the FCIL Electronic Research Interest Group will publish its reviews of popular and new FCIL sources in a series titled “Resource Reviews” for the FCIL Newsletter. The series, at its first installment, will feature five popular sources and two relatively new sources. The popular sources are:

  • The Foreign Law Guide
  • Globalex
  • The United Nations Treaty Collection
  • HeinOnline’s World Constitutions Illustrated
  • HeinOnline’s World Treaty Library

The two relatively new sources are:

  • Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals Case Law Database
  • The Peace Palace Library, The Hague, Netherlands

This is an entirely new project. Its purpose is to promote some of the most authoritative, highly regarded, and comprehensive tools in foreign, comparative, and international legal research. As a continuing project, we also hope to explore and evaluate new resources as they come to our attention.

Each review is individually authored and the opinions expressed in the review are the author’s own. The reviews are intended for both FCIL and general law librarians. They give information that is particularly important to professional users.

Different librarians will have varying ideas of what tools belong in the current list. Indeed the Electronic Research Interest Group discussed a large number of excellent tools. Many shared comparable characteristics; some had incomparable characteristics; and some had a mixture. If your favorite tool is not here, it is not a reflection on that tool. The discussion resulted in substantial agreement on the choices that we have made and on a list of seven characteristics that we could use to ensure the consistency of our reviews, including:

  • How well-known is the source?
  • How accessible is it?
  • How authoritative is it?
  • How comprehensive is it, in terms of its contents?
  • How easy-to-use (user-friendly) is it?
  • How useful is it in terms of its ability to answer both common and rare (difficult-to-find) questions?
  • How current (up-to-date) is it?

The characteristics are broad enough to apply to different types of tools. But they serve their purpose. Please feel free to share your comments with us concerning either our choices or our list of characteristics. You can send your comments to Sherry Xin Chen at sherry.xin.chen@bc.edu.

Our definition of “new” is approximately two years old at most.  This definition is general and flexible. We will interpret it in relation to the broad field of FCIL research. New tools after all do not pop up in FCIL research on a daily basis. Although we have only two “new” tools now, we will expand this category in the future.

Finally let me give credit to those who made this project happen:

Catherine Deane
Yemisi Dina
Dennis Kim-Prieto
Steven Perkins
Sherry Xin Chen

Join The Electronic Resources IG at #AALL17


By Jim Hart

We would like to invite you to our annual FCIL-SIS Electronic Resources Interest Group (ERIG) Meeting, which will be held at 7:45 – 8:45 a.m. on Sunday, July 16th, at Austin Convention Center Level 3, Room 8B.

The Electronic Resources IG provides information and support to librarians on online resources of foreign, comparative and international law research. Although most of the group’s work benefits FCIL librarians, this meeting is open to both those who are and those who are not FCIL members. Everyone is welcome! At the meeting, we will review what the group has done in the past year, gather your ideas about interesting projects for the future, and introduce you to the new Chair.

Please join us for a great networking opportunity and to catch up with old friends!

Organizing and Participating in the “Open Access to Legal Knowledge in Africa” Workshop in Uganda

By Heather Casey

uganda2This past December, I had the privilege of traveling to Kampala, Uganda and assisting with a workshop on Open Access to legal knowledge in Africa. It was for law librarians in Anglophone Africa. The workshop was organized through the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA), in cooperation with the International Association of Law Libraries (IALL). It was sponsored by IFLA, IALL, and HeinOnline.

I was one of several organizers – with me were Mark Engsberg (Emory University), Joe Hinger (St. John’s University), Caroline Ilako (Markerere University), Sonia Poulin (Alberta Law Libraries), and Bård Tuseth (University of Oslo). Over the course of several months, we worked to bring together a group of African law librarians that came from the following countries: Uganda, Ghana, Kenya, Cote d’Ivoire, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, and South Africa.

Our goals for the workshop were to empower participants to utilize the potential of open access legal sources in legal research. The workshop offered a method to build a network of law librarians across Africa in order to share knowledge and assist each other in solving practical legal research questions. Participation provided an overview of open access legal sources worldwide, the practical skills required to benefit from them, and an opportunity to establish contact with colleagues from different countries.

uganda1One essential component of the workshop was for every participant to give a presentation. Most were 5 minutes long and organizers spoke from 15 minutes to 45 minutes on various topics with Q&A sessions afterward. Our reasons behind having every participant give a presentation were several; first, it encouraged each participant to plan for the workshop and guaranteed active participation. Second, each participant shared information on the legal research environment in their jurisdiction, which allowed for other participants to learn more about jurisdictions outside their own. It also assisted with networking, as each presentation allowed participants to better acquaint themselves with one another. Getting up in front of their peers gave each participant a chance to exercise skills in public speaking that they may not have otherwise used over the course of the two-day workshop.

We also had three breakout sessions where participants were gathered into small groups to foster discussion. Organizers joined in at each group table to act as facilitators for the small group discussions. After 45 minutes to an hour of discussion, the entire workshop group would come together and people from each group would relay their group’s findings.

As organizers, we wanted to ensure that participants would continue to contribute to a network for African Law Librarians. To that end, we established several online forums after the workshop for participants and organizers to engage in virtual and practical collaboration with international colleagues. The forums included:

So far the email chain and WhatsApp groups have been very vibrant. Participants continue to reach out to one another to discuss resources and let one another know what is happening in their jurisdictions. The website has been good for exchanging slides from the workshop and members have discussed what they would like to further do with the website.

We are excited to see this group continue in its efforts to further the goals of the workshop and look forward to further collaboration with members of the workshop. The experience was unforgettable and one I personally was truly honored and humbled to take part in. It was also very enjoyable to visit Uganda and learn more about the vibrant culture there. I look forward to visiting again.

EISIL Update

The Electronic Information System for International Law (EISIL), sponsored by the American Society of International Law (ASIL) experienced outages last week.  Upon request, Don Ford agreed to update the FCIL-SIS on his knowledge of EISIL’s status.

By: Don Ford

EISIL Update: In 2012, shortly after ASIL eliminated its librarian position, Barbara Bean (Michigan State University Law Library) and I volunteered to serve as EISIL’s general factota.  Barbara continued training EISIL editors and I continued accumulating potential new sources for EISIL.  However, since early 2013, ASIL has allowed no updating of EISIL because to do so might crash the EISIL system, which is superannuated.  This has caused the database to become seriously outdated, as no new content has been added, and existing content has not been updated.

Barbara and Don also tried to keep EISIL alive.  During the period 2012-2016 there were a number of discussions, both with Elizabeth Andersen, ASIL’s former Executive Director, and with Mark Agrast, ASIL’s current Executive Director, about migrating EISIL to a new platform.  In addition, repeated attempts were made to include EISIL within the broader framework of the ASIL website redesign project, to no avail.  This spring, Don and Barbara felt they had to recommend to ASIL that the database be suppressed until it can be properly updated.

An article on the history of EISIL and on the efforts to keep it alive will be published in the fall 2016 issue of the Informer, the electronic newsletter of ASIL’s International Legal Research Interest Group (ILRIG).  In the meantime, please let ASIL Executive Director Mark Agrast know your concerns.  He may be reached at magrast@asil.org.