Introducting the San Diego County Law Library’s Slomanson International Law Collection

Slomanson Collection Plaque.JPG

The San Diego County Law Library (SDCLL) now hosts the 1,300 volume “Slomanson International Law Collection” (located on the fourth floor). It includes books from all over the world and covers most facets of International Law. It contains treatises; nutshell legal summaries; comprehensive treaty commentaries; law firm locations; casebooks; and guides for educational study. This cache is organized via the Library of Congress numbering system.

This collection significantly upgrades the local availability of print research materials−which is a compelling subdivision of the International Court of Justice Article 38.1(d) list of the sources of International Law. The perennial difficulty with ascertaining the content of International Law typically necessitates first resort to academic treatises. Thus, this handy surrogate−the “teachings of the most highly qualified publicists of the various nations”−offers a convenient stash for law firm associates, institutional researchers, and Jessup or other student moot court advocates.

The SDCLL’s online catalogue facilitates access to the titles included in this collection. For example, a member of the national law librarian listserv recently requested an English version of some Mexican codes. With the following path, the requesting party was able to determine whether those translations were available in the SDCLL holdings: go to <>; then click the Online Catalogue Main Menu & Advanced Search link; choose the desired Collection by entering a checkmark in box adjacent to Slomanson International Law Collection; enter “Mexican;” then click Search.

This treasure trove of research resources was amassed during Professor Slomanson’s tenure as former Newsletter Editor and Chair of the American Society of International Law (ASIL) United Nations Section, as well as in his current post as a Corresponding Editor for the ASIL’s bi-monthly International Legal Materials publication. Professor Slomanson’s donation constitutes the most comprehensive collection of its kind in (at least) San Diego County.

Books on the following international topics are available: Aid; Air Law; Arbitration; Arms Transfer; Business; Careers; Collections (multiple authors); Comparative Law; Corporations; Corruption; Courts; Criminal Law; Cultural Property; Data Privacy; Democracy; Dictionaries; Diplomatic Relations; Dispute Resolution; Economics; Education; Energy; Environment; European Union; Extradition; Force; Forum Selection; Gender-Women’s Rights; Genocide; Globalization; History; Humanitarian Law; Humanitarian Intervention; Human Rights; IMF; Immigration; Individual Personality; International Criminal Court; International Law Commission; Internet; Investment; Iraq; Judicial Assistance; Judicial Systems; Jurisdiction; Kosovo; Law of the Sea; Lawyers-Law firms; Legal Education; Legal Personality; Mexico; Muslim Culture; Nationality; Nation Building; Neutrality; NGOs; Nuclear Control; Occupation; Organizations; Peace; Encyclopedias; Peacekeeping; Philanthropy; Post-Conflict Societies; Privacy; Private International Law; Recognition; Refugees-Asylum; Religion; Russia; Secession; Security Council; Self-Defense; Self-Determination; Sources; Sovereign Immunities; Space Law; Spain; State Practice; States; Succession; Tax; Teaching/Research; Territories; Terrorism; Theory; Third World; Trade; Treaty Law; United Nations; and  U.S. Foreign Relations.

The titles in this highly specialized collection are available via inter-library loan. For questions, call the San Diego County Law Library at (619) 531-3900.

From the Reference Desk: Primary Documents on Presidential Foreign Policy

By Amy Flick

Flickr LBJ et al 20 Feet Heads 25185934159_de5bd6bae5_n

Presidential busts from the now-defunct Presidents Park in Williamsburg, VA. Photo by Mobilius in Mobili via Flickr,, Creative Commons license.

“My professor said to cite primary sources in my paper on Harry Truman’s foreign policy, and she said to visit the Truman Library. Is there anything I can use here without going to Missouri?”

I don’t think that the professor meant for the student to travel to the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum in Independence, Missouri and browse through the archives to write a seminar paper. But I have received several requests for presidential documents and primary documents on presidential policies this semester. Recent questions have included:

  • Harry Truman’s statements regarding NATO
  • Harry Truman’s relationship with the CIA
  • Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan’s differing approaches to the Soviet Union (as influenced by their religious beliefs)
  • Theodore Roosevelt’s speeches and inaugural addresses
  • Donald Trump’s public statements about Ukraine (I wonder why that would be of interest?)

So, what counts as a primary source on presidential policy, particularly for questions about foreign policy? And where can we find these primary source documents, particularly for past administrations?

Part of the question here is the professor’s definition of “primary source,” since some of these questions are coming from students in legal history classes. Kent Olson’s Principles of Legal Research Concise Hornbook offers the definition “primary sources are the official pronouncements of the governmental lawmakers,” but he explains in a footnote that “[t]his sense of the terms primary and secondary is different from that found in history and other disciplines, where a ‘primary source’ can be a letter or contemporary newspaper account while a ‘secondary source’ is a later scholarly analysis.” [Olson, p. 7] I am assuming that the professors want the students to find the presidents’ own speeches and writings, particularly with the requests for presidential statements, but messages from administration officials would be helpful as well.

The first source to look at is Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, which includes speeches, messages to Congress, news conferences, memoranda, and addresses to international conferences. These types of research questions are good examples of the benefits of starting with the indexes – North Atlantic Treaty and North Atlantic Treaty Organization both appear as index terms in the Truman volumes. Public Papers of the Presidents is available on, but the Hein Online U.S. Presidential Library is more searchable, and I don’t have to download the entire PDF volume. It’s available, and searchable, on Lexis and Westlaw as well. The Hein collection also includes published compilations of documents from presidents before Herbert Hoover, including the Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents for finding the speeches of Theodore Roosevelt.

The Hein US Presidential Library, Westlaw, Lexis, and also have the Compilation of Presidential Documents, formerly the Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents. Westlaw’s Daily Presidential Documents database has even more current documents than GPO’s.  These databases are good for finding press conferences and remarks at less formal events, including current tracking of President Trump’s statements. It’s possible to scan the ent recent documents in any version of the Compilation for remarks related to foreign policy, but since briefings and exchanges with reporters might cover a variety of topics, searching for statements on Ukraine, or the Soviet Union, is probably required.

The American Presidency Project at UC Santa Barbara is a great resource for finding presidential statements, speeches, and documents for earlier presidents, and for modern presidents, it also includes news conferences, interviews, and visits by foreign leaders. This database includes all the presidents, even 12 documents related to William Henry Harrison (who died in office 31 days into his term). The database can be searched or browsed by president, and the headings and document categories are helpful for finding useful documents. Direct statements about Carter or Reagan’s religious beliefs and the Soviet Union are going to be difficult to find, but there are many statements here about the Soviet Union to read and interpret.

The professor’s suggestion that the student “visit the Truman Library” presumably meant to visit its digital collections.  Presidential Libraries and Museums are repositories for the papers, records, and historical materials of the presidents. The National Archives and Records Administration administers 14 presidential libraries, starting with the Hoover administration. Some materials in the various libraries have been digitized and made available to the public, although much more would be available on-site. With some digging, the student researchers might find some relevant materials in the digitized collections. For instance, a draft of Reagan’s “evil empire” speech to the National Association of Evangelicals is available. The Truman Library’s online collections are especially helpful, with categories of digitized documents including The Development of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Theodore Roosevelt’s presidency predated the requirement that presidential papers be preserved, so the collecting of his papers, and their digitization, is a work in progress.  In spite of that, the Digital Library of the Theodore Roosevelt Center at Dickinson State University includes a searchable collection of Roosevelt’s letters.

Since most of these requests were for the presidents’ foreign policy, I suggested Foreign Relations of the United States, available on the website of the State Department’s Office of the Historian, and on Hein Online. It was most useful for the requests on Truman and Carter policies, since most of the Reagan volumes are not yet available. For President Truman, there are multiple volumes on Western European Security that go into US participation in NATO. These include memoranda of conversations between the president and the Secretary of State, and messages from foreign governments reacting to Truman’s statements. FRUS was also helpful to the student researching the CIA, with a volume on Emergence of the Intelligence Establishment.

I also suggested additional secondary sources to some of these students, to supplement what they already had and as another source for finding statements and speeches. Besides the many biographies written on all the presidents, there are autobiographies and memoirs, although some may be ghostwritten. There are published collections of the speeches of Roosevelt, Truman, and Reagan. News databases are useful for finding excerpts and full speeches of the presidents, especially ProQuest Historical Newspapers for finding text of entire speeches by Theodore Roosevelt and Harry Truman.

One more source seemed necessary for finding statements of the current president.  Although finding President Trump’s tweets mentioned in news articles was not difficult, there is also the comprehensive and searchable Trump Twitter Archive. As of November 6, 2019, I find either “Ukraine” or “Ukrainian” mentioned in 141 tweets.

Donate to the Syllabi and Course Materials Database & Pay It Forward to Help Others

By Paul Moorman

I recently received a call from a student at my undergraduate alma mater asking for a donation. The student who called me was a pre-law history major who lived in the same dorm I had lived in and had received a scholarship to help pay for his tuition­—so basically he was me 30 years ago (although I was a political science major, but let’s not quibble over details). While I was talking to him, all the great memories I have from my undergraduate years came flooding back. When it came time for him to make the “big ask,” I was ready to say no like I usually do, but then I thought about it some more and decided that this time I would say yes and donate some money for a scholarship fund.  What ultimately helped me decide to make a donation was a realization that I had benefited from all those who had given generously to the school in the past.  I was now in a position in my life to be able to step up and help “pay it forward” by showing the same generosity that was shown to me by donating to others.

So why am I telling you this story? I’ll get there, but first let me start by saying that I’m one of the current co-chairs of the FCIL-SIS Teaching Foreign, Comparative, and International Law Interest Group. I, along with my co-chair, Amelia Landenberger, have a lot planned this year. One of our most important goals is to update the Syllabi and Course Materials Database and I am taking the lead on this project. As the readers of this blog likely know, it’s an amazing source of useful information for anyone teaching foreign, comparative, and international legal research and I’m confident many of you have used and consulted it while planning their courses. The database only exists because your colleagues have generously donated their courseware to help you. As useful as the current database is, it hasn’t been updated for a few years and it is starting to get long in the tooth. Legal research has changed dramatically in the past few years and FCIL-related legal research is no exception. As the tools and methods we use change, the way we teach our research courses needs to adapt to those changes.

So now it’s time for me to make my “big ask.”  Please consider this blog posting to be my first official request for you to donate your courseware to the Syllabi and Course Materials database. Unlike my alma mater, I’m not asking for money—instead I’m asking you to help by sharing your knowledge, expertise, experience, and hard work to help others who could benefit from it. If you have any FCIL-related courseware (you know who you are!), whether it be a syllabus, test, assignment, PowerPoint presentation, or even an entire module (really anything course related), now is the time to “pay it forward” and help your colleagues. If you’ve donated your courseware to the database in the past, please donate a more current version.  If you’ve never donated before, now is time to review your files and see if there’s anything you have that others could benefit from. Your colleagues have helped you in the past, now it’s time to help your colleagues.

My plan for the next few months is reach out to those who have donated to the database, and also to those who teach FCIL-related legal research courses, and ask you to donate your courseware to the database.  If you send the materials to me now by emailing it to me a, you’ll save us both a lot of time and effort. Thank you in advance for your generosity.  Your colleagues and I are grateful.

Book Review: The Impact of Climate Change Mitigation on Indigenous and Forest Communities

ImpactofClimateChangeBy Sue Silverman

Maureen F. Tehan, Lee C. Godden, Margaret A. Young, and Kirsty A. Gover, The Impact of Climate Change Mitigation on Indigenous and Forest Communities: International, National and Local Law Perspectives on REDD+  (Cambridge University Press, 2017) 415 p. Hardcover $147.00

REDD+ is a global program that encourages countries to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation through financial incentives. In The Impact of Climate Change Mitigation on Indigenous and Forest Communities: International, National and Local Law Perspectives on REDD+,  the authors, Maureen F. Tehan, Lee C. Godden, Margaret A. Young, and Kirsty A. Gover, closely examine the structure, frameworks and safeguards of REDD+, and how REDD+ has developed and operates alongside other international and national legal regimes and norms, with the primary objective of assessing its impact upon the legal interests of indigenous peoples and forest dependent communities.[1]

The book is divided into four parts: Part I discusses REDD+ within the international context and explores its interaction with other international legal regimes and norms. Part II looks at how REDD+ interacts with indigenous communities at the national level, and Part III examines these regime interactions within the contexts of three countries: Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, and Vanuatu.  Part III also analyzes climate change mitigation programs undertaken in Australia in order to draw lessons that may be applied to REDD+ programs.  Part IV summarizes the authors’ findings and conclusions and offers recommendations for moving forward and additional scholarship.

Part I begins by characterizing REDD+ as an emerging international legal regime and providing an overview of the laws and decision-making procedures established by the UNFCCC, the Paris Agreement and the Kyoto Protocol that are associated with REDD+.  The authors then discuss the key participants including the United Nations Program on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (UN-REDD), the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) based within the World Bank Group, and other nonstate actors such as civil society groups, academics, the private sector and policy makers who support the functional goals of REDD+.  The following chapters examine how REDD+ interacts and conflicts with other international legal regimes such as the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna, the International Labor Organization, Convention No. 169, the CBD Nagoya Protocol, and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, as well as norms established by customary international law.  The authors suggest that these horizontal regime interactions at the international level, along with vertical interactions between international and domestic legal regimes, impact the rights and interests of indigenous peoples.[2]

Part II focuses on REDD+’s interaction with sovereign states and indigenous peoples.  Here, the tangible conflicts presented by REDD+ programs come into focus as the authors unpack the intricacies and challenges of aligning REDD+ and the benefits conferred by REDD+ with indigenous property rights under statutory and customary law, indigenous identity law, and the normative obligation of obtaining free prior and informed consent (FPIC).  Because FPIC is integral to REDD+’s relationship with indigenous and forest dwelling communities and how those communities’ rights and livelihoods are impacted by REDD+ projects, a significant portion of Part II is devoted to examining this norm and how it is applied by UN-REDD and the World Bank’s FCPF, the two main funders of REDD+.  Part II also focuses heavily on tenure rights and REDD+’s emphasis on “secure and clear” tenure, a policy which favors those who currently possess land.[3] Ultimately, despite its intentions to include indigenous and forest-dependent communities within decision-making processes and benefit-sharing, those whose property rights are not recognized under national law or who are on the short end of the balance of power equation vis-à-vis the state or third parties with possessory or usufructuary rights, are inevitably left out of any benefit sharing or FPIC processes under REDD+.

Part III examines how the vertical and horizontal regime interactions discussed in Parts I and II play out in three country examples: Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, and Vanuatu, and looks at the successes and shortcomings of climate change mitigation projects undertaken in Australia in how they account for the rights of indigenous communities. To help understand the local context within which REDD+ operates, the authors describe the history of land law and forest resources law, as well as the laws determining the recognition of the rights of indigenous peoples and local forest communities in each country. From these examples, the authors suggest REDD+ may draw lessons moving forward in how it might resolve conflicts between indigenous rights and the goals of climate change mitigation.

In their conclusion, the authors emphasize that “the unresolved legal claims of indigenous peoples are deeply context-specific and must be interrogated at the local level.” [4] For REDD+ to successfully promote the rights and livelihoods of indigenous populations while pursuing its goals of climate change mitigation, it must provide guidance in resolving domestic disputes regarding indigenous claims.[5]  In so doing, “attention to historic injustice, dispossession, the non-recognition of indigenous law, and the social and economic marginalization of indigenous and forest communities is essential.” [6]

With its detailed exploration of how REDD+ touches upon myriad issues of international and domestic law  including customary law, property and resource rights, and indigenous identity, this book is an excellent resource for academics, policy makers and attorneys exploring ways in which to balance the goals of climate change mitigation programs with the rights and interests of indigenous peoples, and how to incorporate indigenous communities into REDD+ or other climate change mitigation projects.  For example, the authors suggest that indigenous and local community carbon rights may be better framed as resource rights instead of rights tied to tenure, in order to promote the receipt of benefits among groups who are unable to establish “secure and clear” tenure, or who are dispossessed of their traditional land as a result of the formalization of tenure under national laws.[7]  The authors also describe opportunities for indigenous involvement in climate change mitigation projects, for example the savanna-burning activities based on traditional Aboriginal land burning practices in Australia.[8]

As the authors point out, “REDD+ is not a straightforward win-win approach to climate change mitigation,” but at the same time, “just and effective climate change mitigation must incorporate the perspectives of those who are affected by it and not merely those who have the resources to address the problem (and may be implicated in the causes of that problem).” Thus “unwieldy and complex” is just as it should be.[9]

[1] Maureen F. Tehan, Lee C. Godden, Margaret A. Young, and Kirsty A. Gover, The Impact of Climate Change Mitigation on Indigenous and Forest Communities: International, National and Local Law Perspectives on REDD+  (Cambridge University Press, 2017)

[2] Id. at 83.

[3] Id. at 130.

[4] Id. at 347.

[5] Id.

[6] Id. at 348.

[7] Id. at

[8] Id. at 324

[9] Id. at 352.

From the Reference Desk: On Having to Say No

By Jonathan Pratter

Law librarians want to help, to provide access, to find the needed information or source.  That is in our blood.  The universe of international legal information is immense and rapidly expanding.  The internet and the World Wide Web have worked a revolution (at least for old-school types like me who remember what international legal research was like before the digital age).  It is natural for international law librarians to feel instinctively that it ought to be possible to satisfy the often pressing need for information that comes to us from our users, whether they are practicing attorneys, law school faculty members, law students or members of the public.  Yet, my thesis is that sometimes it is not possible.  There are certain kinds of requests for information or sources that are impossible to fulfil, either because the information does not exist or is inaccessible.  When this happens, we need to know how to respond.  It is not easy to tell someone that her request cannot be satisfied.  Rather than to dwell on the impossibility, a better response is to suggest an alternative, but in some cases good alternatives do not exist.  I want to consider three kinds of international legal information that can cause difficulty and may lead to the conclusion that the information is not to be found:  English translations, judicial decisions at first instance and docket information.

Photo at reference desk 10-10-19When we leave the Common-Law family of legal systems, the linguistic barrier comes into play.  Much depends on the nature of the source.  For national constitutions, we are in pretty good shape.  Resources such as the Constitute Project perform an outstanding service.  Lawmakers in other countries do not consider it their obligation to provide English translations of national or sub-national legislation, let alone of administrative regulations.  Recently I was asked to provide the English translation of the Constitution of Mexico City.  The Constitución Política de la Ciudad de México certainly does exist, in Spanish.  It is lengthy.  Conscientious research led me to the conclusion that a published English translation does not exist.  I suggested what I thought was a reasonable alternative: retaining a competent legal translation service.  This was not met with wholehearted approval.  Why?  Because it is expensive.  Nevertheless, we have to be prepared to suggest this alternative when it comes to providing English translations.

Every jurisdiction has several first-instance courts.  France, for example, has the tribunal d’instance, the tribunal de grande instance, the tribunal de commerce and the conseil de prud’hommes.  And that is just for starters.  Legifrance is, by common accord, the go-to website for free access to French law.  In Legifrance, when you search on juridictions du premier degré (first-instance courts), it turns out that the results are very sketchy.  I got zero results for 2019.  According to the 4th edition of the book, Recherche Documentaire Juridique: Méthodologie (2019), there is no good alternative.  I wager that the situation in other jurisdictions is similar.

When it comes to docket information in other countries, researchers in the U.S. are spoiled.  We have PACER and its commercial counterparts on Westlaw, Lexis and Bloomberg Law.  The situation outside the U.S. is very different.  Docket information in other jurisdictions may simply be inaccessible.  True, Bloomberg Law has coverage for what it calls international dockets, and this includes important jurisdictions like the United Kingdom and the European Court of Justice.  However, in my experience, the information available is limited and does not include links to full-text filings by the parties, such as will be found on PACER.

In practice, requests for information in the three categories discussed here are not infrequent.  Researchers who ask for this kind of information may have to be brought down to the reality that the information they need is not available.  Sometimes the right answer is no.


GlobaLex September/October 2019 Issue is Live

By Lucie Olejnikova

The September/October 2019 Issue of GlobaLex is live featuring one new article and eight updates. This issue includes articles on Brazil, Honduras, Iceland, Ireland, Liberia, Mongolia, South Pacific, SAARC, and a new article on Terrorism and Self-Determination. Webmasters and content managers, please update your pages. We thank all of our wonderful authors, new and established, for their continuous contributions.


Differentiating International Terrorism and ‘Peoples’: Struggles for Self-Determination by Dr. Elizabeth Chadwick at

Dr. Elizabeth Chadwick is a retired British academic. In recent years, she has authored ‘Terrorism and self-determination’, in Ben Saul (ed.), Research Handbook on International Law and Terrorism (Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar, 2d ed., forthcoming), ‘Terrorism and self-determination’, in Ben Saul (ed.), Research Handbook on International Law and Terrorism (Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar, 2015), ‘National Liberation in the Context of Post- and Non-Colonial Struggles for Self-Determination’, in Marc Weller (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of The Use of Force in International Law (Oxford: OUP, 2015), and Self-Determination in the Post-9/11 Era (Routledge Research in International Law, 2011). She has also contributed a number of other book chapters and journal articles on a variety of related topics, including ‘Neutrality’ for Oxford Bibliographies in International Law (T. Carty, ed.) (2014).


UPDATE: A Research Guide on the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) by Md. Toriqul Islam and Dr. Md. Ershadul Karim at

Md. Toriqul Islam is a Ph.D. Candidate at the Faculty of Law, University of Malaya, Malaysia, and Assistant Professor at the Department of Law and Justice, Bangladesh University of Business and Technology (BUBT) in Bangladesh.

Dr. Md. Ershadul Karim is a Senior Lecture at the Faculty of Law, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and a non-practicing lawyer enrolled with Bangladesh Supreme Court.


UPDATE: Legal Research in Brazil by Maíra Rodrigues at

Maíra Rodrigues graduated from the University of Brasília in 2017. She is currently an LL.M candidate in Legal Studies at New York University. Prior to joining NYU’s LL.M Program, Maíra worked as an associate lawyer in the Antitrust and Trade Law Group of a high-profile law firm in Brazil.


UPDATE: Legal Research in Honduras by Eduardo Medrano at

Eduardo Medrano obtained a law degree from Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Honduras. He also completed a Masters Degreee from Universidad Tecnológica de Honduras (UTH). He is a member of the Honduras Bar Association; currently he is an associate of Consortium Legal Honduras.


UPDATE: Researching Icelandic Law by Erna Mathiesen at

Erna Mathiesen graduated from the Faculty of Law at Reykjavik University in 2008 and she is currently pursuing LL.M. at the University at Oslo, Norway.


UPDATE: Researching Irish Law by Dr. Darius Whelan at

Dr. Darius Whelan is a lecturer in law at University College, Cork, Ireland. He established the Irish Law discussion list and the Irish Law website in 1994. He has written articles on electronic access to Irish law for the Irish Law Times, the Bar Review, the Internet Newsletter for Lawyers and the Irish Times.


UPDATE: Liberian Legal System and Legal Research by Hanatu Kabbah at

Hanatu Kabbah holds an LL.B (Hons.) and an LL.M (Public Service Law) degree from NYU. She is a senior legal consultant and researcher, public interest practitioner with experience working on access to justice in the formal and informal justice sector. She has researched rule of law issues and developed tools for legal and non- legal advocates. She taught at the Faculty of Law, University of the Gambia and was the Director of the Law Clinic of the UTG. She received her Bachelor of Laws Degree with Honours (LL.B. Hons.) from Fourah Bay College, University of Sierra Leone and a Degree of Utter Barrister at the Sierra Leone Law School. She has been admitted to the Sierra Leone Bar since 1999. She holds a Diploma in the Equal Status and Human Rights of Women in 2002 from the Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law from Lund University in Sweden and has also studied at the Rene Cassin International Institute for Human Rights in Strasbourg, France. She is also a Transitional Justice Fellow after studying at the Transitional Justice Fellowship Programme organized by the International Centre for Transitional Justice and the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation in Cape Town, South Africa in 2007. She is the author of ‘A Training Manual on Women’s Rights in Sierra Leone’.


UPDATE: Overview of the Mongolian Legal System and Laws by Chris Melville, Erdenedalai (Dalai) Odkhuu, Baigalmaa Tsookhuu and Undraa Sergelenbaatar at

Chris Melville is a founding Partner of Melville Erdenedalai LLP (M&E), Prior to founding his own firm, Chris Melville was the Managing Partner of Hogan Lovells (Mongolia) LLP.. He has been based in Mongolia since 2012. Chris’s practice in Mongolia includes foreign investment law, corporate law and M&A, joint venture, banking and finance, and infrastructure projects. Chris is a monthly contributor to the De Facto Gazette, an English language biweekly publication on Mongolian politics and economics. He is Honorary Legal Advisor to the British Ambassador to Mongolia.

Erdenedalai (Dalai) Odkhuu is one of the founding partners of Melville Erdenedalai LLP. He provides strategic legal advice, practicing mainly in mining, telecommunications, energy and renewable energy, infrastructure, petroleum, and finance. His practice includes negotiation, competition and regulatory law, M&A, financing and security, restructuring, and licensing and compliance law. Dalai received his LL.M from Harvard Law School and he is admitted to practice in New York and Mongolia. He also completed his LL.M in International Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation from Warwick University, UK. He has a LL.B/BA in International Law from Law School of the National University of Mongolia and he is the Honorary Consul of the Republic of Malta in Mongolia.

Baigalmaa Tsookhuu is an associate with Melville Erdenedalai LLP. She has a wide range of experience in M&A, joint ventures, due diligence, financing and securities, procurement, licensing, real estate, incorporations and restructuring, employment, competition, project finance, tax, compliance and regulatory matters, with a special interest in energy and mining, banking and finance, and international arbitration. Prior to joining the firm, she worked for Hogan Lovells (Mongolia) LLP for 4 years. She received her LL.B from the University of Tokyo. Baigalmaa is a member of the Mongolian Bar Association and is qualified to practice law in Mongolia.

Undraa Sergelenbaatar is an associate with Melville Erdenedalai LLP. Her practice area include various aspects of corporate and commercial law with specific focus on corporate, banking, finance, securities, mining, infrastructure projects, compliance and regulatory law. Prior to joining the firm, Undraa worked for 8 years as a senior legal and compliance lawyer at a premier Mongolian mining conglomerate listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. She is a member of the Mongolian Bar Association and is qualified to practice law in Mongolia.


UPDATE: Introduction to Researching South Pacific Law by Peter Murgatroyd at

Peter Murgatroyd is the Library and Knowledge Services manager at Counties Manukau Helath in Auckland, New Zealand. Formerly, he was the Law Librarian of the University of the South Pacific and Campus Librarian of the Emalus Campus of the University, located in Port Vila, Vanuatu. Peter has also managed the Information Resource Centre Manager at the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme [SPREP], and was the Coordinator of the Pacific Environment Information Network [PEIN]. Peter Murgatroyd was a member of the working group that established the online Pacific Legal Information Institute [PacLII]. He has had articles on Pacific legal resources published in the ‘Australian Law Librarian,’ ‘Legal Information Management’ and ‘The Journal of Academic Librarianship.’


For more articles, see


From the Reference Desk: I Need a Topic for My Paper!

By Amy Flick

writers block.jpg
Every fall semester, I get the same question from new students on the Emory International Law Review and students taking one of the international law seminars. They usually have only one or two weeks to come up with a topic for their major writing project, and they may not have taken an international law class yet.  The topic must be original, specialized, interesting to potential readers, current, not preempted by other articles, not likely to become moot before the article is published, and involve a legal issue for which the student can propose a solution. The topic should interest the student enough that they can commit to spending the next few weeks or months researching, writing, and editing it, and it should lead to a journal note or seminar paper that enhances the student’s résumé.

I do not keep a list of possible topics that students might write about. I definitely do not have a list of topics that meet all these requirements. I occasionally see a news item that I think would make a good student paper topic, but rarely at a time that I can match it to a student.

Instead of offering a fully-vetted proposal to students, I give them starting places to look for a topic. These are some of the resources that I suggest to the international journal and seminar students who are looking for research topics. These resources can be found in my research guides, most of them borrowed from other research guides. (I also have suggested resources for the students on the Emory Bankruptcy Developments Journal, but those are a subject for a different blog.)

Current awareness and legal news sources are good for finding developing issues and new and noteworthy legislation and cases. Browse through headlines and new documents in:

I follow news sources with good coverage of global issues and legal developments. Few law students seem to keep up with the news, but they may not have my NPR-fueled Atlanta commute. I look for headlines in these sources, which I also browse for potential homework problems:

International law blogs will point out not just new statutes and cases, but the legal issues they raise. Keep in mind that a blog post by a professor may be a precursor to a full academic article that he or she has planned.

For students with an interest in human rights, topic ideas might be found in:

Students looking for a national security-related topic might find one in:

Students looking to research the more commercial areas of international law, such as international tax and international trade, might find ideas for topics in:

  • Law360 for International Arbitration and International Trade
  • Bloomberg Law News in International Trade and International Tax
  • Business news from the Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal

Just as students look for pending Supreme Court cases and circuit splits when writing about U.S. law, students might look at pending cases before international courts and tribunals such as the International Criminal Court and the International Court of Justice.

Students who have found a news article that interests them, but who are having trouble developing it into an issue, might look at other articles and blog posts to find differing views. They might compare one recent case with similar cases from other courts, using the Oxford Reports on International Law database, or they might compare legislation from other countries using sources like WIPO Lex and ECOLEX.

At this stage, students may have only a general idea for their article or paper topic. It doesn’t need to be fully developed yet, but they will have to do a lot of reading and research to turn their topic into an outline, and I can at least give them some sources for that reading and research.

If you have any great ideas for suggesting topics to desperate students, I would love to hear about them!