It’s Time For Chicago!

Registration is now open for the 2016 AALL Annual Meeting and Conference in Chicago!  In addition to member-discounted pricing, deeply discounted registration rates are available for students and retirees. Nonmember conference registration packages also include a complimentary one-year AALL membership – by joining us in Chicago, you’ll be joining AALL as well!

The FCIL-SIS looks forward to welcoming all attendees to its 2016 Schaffer Grant for Foreign Law Librarians presentation, which will take place on Monday, July 18, from 4:30 p.m. until 5:30 p.m., in Hyatt-Columbus GH. This year’s recipient, Ms. Rheny Pulungan, is Liaison Support Librarian at the University of Melbourne’s Law School Library. As Liaison Support Librarian, she supplies reference services, teaches legal research workshops, and completes collection development projects. Ms. Pulungan holds a Ph.D and Masters degree in International Law from the University of Melbourne, and a Master of Information Studies in Librarianship from the University of Canberra. Previously, Ms. Pulungan received her Bachelor of Laws from Gadjah Mada University in Indonesia, and served as Law Faculty Lecturer at Bengkulu University, where she specialized in international law. Ms. Pulungan’s experience in both Indonesian and Australian law, as well as law librarianship, will be reflected in her presentation, which will treat comparatively access to legal information in both countries.

In addition to the Schaffer Grant presentation on July 18, the AALL Conference will feature the following FCIL-related programming:

Sunday, July 17th

4:00 p.m. – Asian Legal Information in English: Availability, Accessibility, and Quality Control

Tuesday, July 19

8:30 a.m. – Roman Law, Roman Order, and Restatements

11:00 a.m. – Vanishing Online? Legal and Policy Implications for Libraries of the EU’s “Right to be Forgotten”

The FCIL-SIS is also working with the American Society of International Law to co-sponsor a pre-conference workshop to be held on Saturday, July 16 at 9:30 a.m. ($50 additional registration fee applies.)  The workshop, which is entitled Two Sides to the United Nations: Working with Public and Private International Law at the UN, is designed to equip all law librarians with foundational knowledge of the United Nations and CISG (both of which have recent significant changes to their online databases), and to increase their fluency with the major U.N. and CISG documents, information, research resources, and strategies.

If you are presenting on an FCIL-related topic in Chicago and would like your program to be featured on DipLawMatic Dialogues, or if you are interested in blogging about the conference programs listed above, please contact blog administrators Susan Gualtier ( or Loren Turner ( We look forward to seeing you in Chicago this summer!


Schedule of FCIL Events in Philadelphia

Blog Postcards 2015Hello FCIL-SIS!  Are you ready for Philly?  We at the publicity committee certainly are!  We have swag for the exhibit hall ready to go, and we’re looking forward to seeing all of our SIS friends again next week!

As we approach the 2015 AALL Annual Meeting in Philadelphia, we encourage you to keep an eye on the blog and to follow us on Twitter for coverage of FCIL-SIS programming both during and after the conferenceIf you are interested in covering any of the events listed below, please contact blog administrators Susan Gualtier ( or Loren Turner (  Finally, remember to send us your original photos from the Philadelphia conference so that we can share them with our readers who were unable to attend!



Saturday, July 18

9:30am – 4:45 pm

Researching the European Union (University of Pennsylvania Law School)

5:00 pm – 6:30 pm

Exhibit Hall Ribbon-Cutting/Opening Reception. Stop by the FCIL-SIS table!

Sunday, July 19

11:30 am – 12:45 pm

AALL/LexisNexis Call for Papers: Researching International Agreements other than Article II

Treaties (PCC-Room 104A)

FCIL-SIS Jurisdictions Interest Groups Joint Meeting (Marriott-Grand Ballroom Salon C)

1:00 pm – 2:00 pm

Cross-Border Disputes: Dissecting the International Investment Arbitration (PCC-Room


4:00 pm – 5:00 pm

Designers’ Workshop: Subject Guides that Create the Effect You Want (PCC-Room 103BC)

5:15 pm – 6:00 pm

FCIL-SIS Foreign Selectors Interest Group (Marriott-Room 306)

6:00 pm – 7:00 pm

FCIL-SIS Internships and International Exchanges Committee (Marriott-Room 310)

FCIL-SIS Publicity Committee (Marriott-Room 308)

Monday, July 20

7:15 am – 8:30 am

FCIL-SIS Business Meeting and Breakfast (PCC-Room 110AB)

3:15 pm – 4:25 pm

FCIL-SIS Teaching Foreign and International Legal Research Interest Group (PCC-Room


4:00 pm – 4:30 pm

FCIL-SIS Schaffer Grant for Foreign Law Librarians Fundraising Committee (Marriott-

Conference Suite 2)

4:30 pm – 5:30 pm

FCIL-SIS Schaffer Grant for Foreign Law Librarians Recipient Presentation (Marriott-Grand

Ballroom Salon D)

5:45 pm – 6:45 pm

International Attendees Joint Reception (AALL/FCIL/IALL) (Marriott-Grand Ballroom Salon


Tuesday, July 21

8:30 am – 9:30 am

Mighty MT: Enhancing the Value of Machine Translation Tools for FCIL Reference and

Collection Services (PCC-Room 103BC)

12:30 pm – 2:00 pm

LHRB/FCIL-SIS Roman Law Interest Group: Researching the Corpus Juris Civilis (PCC-Room


1:00 pm – 2:00 pm

FCIL-SIS Education Committee (Marriott-Grand Ballroom Salon B)

FCIL-SIS Electronic Research Interest Group (PCC-Room 104B)


The Stagnation of International Law: 2015 ASIL Conference Program Report

cherry blossom 2

by Evelyn Ma

I’ve just returned from the annual ASIL meeting in Washington D.C., which coincided with the Jessup International Moot Court Competition.  The Hyatt Regency Hotel where both conferences were held was bustling with international lawyers, jurists, students and scholars, many of whom juggled their schedules to take in programs at both venues.

The first full day of programs on Thursday, April 9th provided one of the more memorable events entitled “The Stagnation of International Law”.  The panel discussion was moderated by Kal Raustiala from UCLA with panelists Ayelet Berman from the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies of Geneva, Dinah Shelton and Edward Swaine from George Washington University, and Ingo Venzke from the University of Amsterdam.

The moderator began the session by noting that the number of multilateral treaties has declined since 2000.  He asked if this phenomenon signifies stagnation of international law.  Professor Shelton noted that stagnation only applies to multilateral treaty making. Other panelists noted that bilateral treaties, informal law and normative documents signed by parties with no formal treaty-making powers were on the rise. The decrease in the number of multilateral treaties concluded, however, as noted by the panelists, does not take into consideration the number of provisions concluded in individual treaties, their relative importance, as well as the number of parties entering into each treaty. A discussion followed as to whether the rise of soft law would replace multilateral treaty law-making.

Causes proposed by the panelists to account for the decline of multilateral treaty-making include both internal and external factors.  Domestic pressure, more players in the international law system, and few remaining unincorporated customs were issues discussed by the panelists.  Professor Shelton noted that in the international environmental law regime, the change of environmental standards has accelerated dramatically and some issues are not mature yet (while some, too mature) for judicial adjudication and is thus best decided on a case by case basis.  Professor Venzke noted that another cause for the decline in multilateral treaties was a decline in hegemony, of the United States in particular, as in the field of international economic law. Professor Shelton also talked about the cost and effort in the process of concluding a multilateral treaty. There will still be a need for more global standards in economic and technological areas, but non-binding agreements will come to be preferred.  The need for flexibility and the uncertainty of obtaining domestic approval will continue to disfavor multilateral treaty-making.

Considering Oxford Historical Treaties

By Ryan Harrington

manuscriptFollowing up on the recent discussion of Hein’s World Treaty Library, I’d like to report on my experience trialing it at the same time as the Oxford Historical Treaty product.

If you are at all like me, you were somewhat confused about Hein’s Historical Treaty Index, which I now understand to mirror the index from Parry’s Consolidated Treaty Series. It appears that Hein identified the full text and Consolidated Treaty Series cite for bilateral and multilateral treaties and included the text in its library. My understanding is that the series is not complete, but Hein is working towards completion. To be perfectly clear, Hein provides researchers with the text of the treaties that would be available in the Consolidated Treaty Series, but does not provide the official Consolidated Treaty Series.

A month ago, during a conversation with colleagues from schools in the northeast, I reported a critical strength for the Oxford product was the ability to run a full-text search. I believed that one could only search the index on Hein, but Steve Roses from Hein later informed me that I could search the full-text. In light of my misunderstanding, Hein listed the Historical Treaty Index as a “document type” on the full text search option (email to me from Steve Roses on 11/17/2014).

In my opinion, Oxford Historical Treaties does contain enough other advantages to make the purchase worth serious consideration. Most obviously, it provides pdf images of the Consolidated Treaty Series.

Anyone who is familiar with the interface of one or more of the other Oxford products will immediately recognize Oxford Historical Treaties, which will make navigation simple for users. The filters (content type, treaty type, party, date, etc) will be useful for empirical or comparative work.

Most notably, Oxford Historical Treaties is integrated with the Oxford Law Citator, which links to other Oxford products, such as Oxford Reports on International Law and Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law as well as commentary in Scholarly Authorities in International Law. For example, when I run the Citator for Treaty of Peace between Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria, Germany and Turkey, and Russia, signed at Brest-Litovsk, 3 March 1918 (223 CTS 80) I am currently able to pull up 19 references to the item, including a PCIJ decision, nine Max Planck articles, and commentary from several scholarly titles.

If that does not satisfy you, the editors also write that “[f]uture developments are planned such as including contextual commentaries for specific treaties commissioned by general editor Randall Lesaffer.”

Review of HeinOnline’s World Treaty Library

By Jim Hart

treatySince HeinOnline’s beginning in 2000, it has been “named to the Econtent 100, ‘a list of companies that matter most in the digital content industry’”; has won AALL’s Best New Product Award three times; and has grown to 54 libraries, some of which are full-text, some indexes, and some both. Some contain only primary sources; some contain only secondary sources; and some a mixture. The most recent addition to the list of HeinOnline libraries is the World Treaty Library, which covers the period from 1648 to the present. This is a truly monumental library. Hein’s description says, “All together more than 180,000 treaty records have been identified.”

When you first open the World Treaty Library, you see the horizontal, light blue banner just below the title that is labelled “Browse Options.” The majority of the options in this section list their contents by title for browsing and the titles link to full-text.

All the databases in Browse Options follow this pattern except the Treaty Index and Bibliography. The records in the Bibliography database are all linked to their WorldCat records by the ISBN or OCLC number. I seem to have gotten too used to full-text databases from HeinOnline’s other libraries so I found myself wondering how useful the bibliographic records are. Perhaps I’ve forgotten the days when ILL was new.

The Treaty Index is the default link that is selected when you first bring up the World Treaty Library. Although the Browse Options banner is still at the top, it is the databases in the white box below the templates that are now active. These databases are all indexes, although the bibliographic records in the United Nations Treaty Series, Hein’s U.S. Treaty Index, Historical Treaty Index, Martens’ Treaties, and the League of Nations Treaty Series link to the full-text of the treaties.

Hein has said that 80% of the bibliographic records in the indexes are linked to full-text treaties. Of course this varies by index. Here are three indexes with the percent of records with links to full-text: Rohn’s World Treaty Index 44.4%, Multilateral Treaty Calendar 82% and Historical Treaty Index 100%. (Email from Steve Roses to Susan Gualtier, 13/2/2014.) As I understand it, the Historical Treaty Index is the same as Parry’s Consolidated Treaty Series so, of course, Hein has all the full-text treaties in that set. Hein says that the treaties in Rohn’s World Treaty Index and the Multilateral Treaty Calendar link to full-text if the source cited is available in the World Treaty Library. (Email from Miranda Barell, Customer Service HeinOnline, 11/26/2014.)

The strengths of the World Treaty Library are the complete holdings of full-text treaties in Major Treaty Collections; Historical Treaty Index, U.S. Treaties and Agreements; and U.N. Treaty Publications. I would add Scholarly Articles to this list because it pulls articles about treaties from the Law Journal Library.   Although the U.S. and U.N. treaty collections are duplicated from other HeinOnline libraries and widely held on their own, Major Treaty Collections holds things that are rare such as the British Foreign and State Papers 1814-1968; Martens Treaties 1817-1944, which itself includes 9 more titles; and J. Dunont’s Corps Universel Diplomatique du Droit des Gens (1726-1731). I would also add Hein’s sophisticated search capabilities including template selections specific to treaties such as treaty numbers and operators such as grouping, field grouping, fuzzy searches, and boosting. A third strength is the external sources that include many authoritative library subject guides to treaty research as well as some lists (Avalon and Canada) and explanations of treaty practice and procedure .

The one clear weakness that I can find is that the World Treaty Library lacks the full-text of the Bibliography database citations, Rohn’s World Treaty Index, and Multilateral Treaty Calendar.

Finally, let me give Catherine Deane’s AALL blog post its due. Although she concludes that the World Treaty Library is worth buying, she explains its strengths and weaknesses. The weaknesses include the duplication of the U.N. and U.S. treaty collections from other HeinOnline libraries. Catherine turns this on its head, however, by noting that the World Treaty Library allows us to search all these databases at once. Catherine rightly finds that the extra cost of duplicate content is reduced by the discount for the duplication for Core and United Nation Law Collection subscribers. She also concludes that “…the duplicative materials seemed to be a fairly small portion of all of the documents offered in the World Treaty Collection….” This point also turns out to be both a strength and a weakness. Hein says, “Approximately 50% of the content in the World Treaty Library is unique to the collection.” (Email from Steve Roses to Susan Gualtier, 13/2/2014.) Therefore 50% is duplicated. In the end it seems to me that the question is whether the discount pays for the duplication. I’ll leave it up to you to decide. For Catherine some of the World Treaty Library’s features are both strengths and weaknesses. You’ll have to judge which one they are for your situation.

As I said at the beginning, this library is monumental and complex. Its enormous content and Hein’s strong searching capabilities recommend buying it. I say this, however, without comparison to other sources and a number of features that are both strengths and weaknesses. In the end you’ll have to judge yourself whether those features are strengths or weaknesses to your library.

Inter-American Court of Human Rights Database Now Available

By Laura Cadra

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) Project of the Loyola of Los Angeles International and Comparative Law Review has released its Inter-American Court of Human Rights Database. This freely-available database, produced by the editors and staff of the IACHR Project under the supervision of Professor Cesare Romano, allows users to search Inter-American Court decisions by case name, country, and topic. Advanced search features include the ability to search by specific violation of various Inter-American Conventions.

Search results include a brief description of the case, information on judges, and violations found by the Inter-American Court. When available, the database includes a link to a detailed case summary which includes case facts, procedural history, merits, and state compliance with the Inter-American Court’s judgment. To date, 74 detailed case summaries are available.

The database can be accessed at The IACHR Project welcomes comments and suggestions and can be reached at

Book Review: The Twilight of Human Rights Law, by Eric Posner

By: Yasmin Morais

twilight coverPosner, Eric A. The Twilight of Human Rights Law. (Oxford University Press, 2014). 176 p. Hardcover $21.95.

“Human rights law has failed to accomplish its objectives. More precisely, there is little evidence that human rights treaties, on the whole, have improved the well-being of people, or even resulted in respect for the rights in those treaties.” So argues Eric A. Posner in his Introduction to The Twilight of Human Rights Law. The fourteenth book in the Inalienable Rights series, published by Oxford University Press, The Twilight of Human Rights Law offers candid explanations for limited progress on human rights. Posner’s central argument is that human rights law is grounded in a view that the good in every country can be broken down to a set of rules that are capable of being enforced in an impartial way. He terms this “rule naiveté”, which he considers partly responsible for the proliferation of human rights, making meaningful enforcement impossible.

Posner presents in chapter one a thorough overview of the history and development of international human rights law. He highlights, in particular, the United States’ and other Western European governments’ resort to torture in the aftermath of September 11th, noting this a challenge to the human rights regime. The role played by NGOs in advocating human rights is also acknowledged.

Chapter two provides keen analysis of key institutions of human rights, and examines their effectiveness in ensuring states’ compliance with treaty obligations. One constraint highlighted was the weakness of the United Nations Human Rights Committees, which lack the power to sanction or issue legally binding judgments.  The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) and its limitations are also explored. Despite its jurisdiction over approximately 800 million people, the ECHR is unable to strike down domestic laws, which in Posner’s view, limits the effect of each of its decisions. However, while Posner does mention the success of the ECHR with cases such as Hirst v. United Kingdom, the book could have benefitted from more discussion on the impact of Convention rights on English Law, particularly since the entry into force of the Human Rights Act (HRA) 1998.

Over the next three chapters, Posner explores why states enter into human rights treaties and reviews the rates of compliance and the factors accounting for their compliance. He raises important points about the relationship between a country’s level of development and its record of compliance, and the competing needs with which developing states must grapple. For example, “a law that provides greater health services to women…might result in fewer funds for schools, so that the net effect of the law is to improve compliance with CEDAW but reduce compliance with ICESR” (p.72). Another salient point is the challenge of conducting research on states’ compliance, given limited data and the methodological difficulties involved.

Posner reflects in chapter six on whether human rights law serves to discourage states from engaging in warfare. On a pessimistic note, he recounts a number of conflicts, many of which were initiated as a result of human rights violations. He also compares conflicts among authoritarian, quasi-authoritarian and democratic states, noting that “democracies are quite warlike-with non-democracies rather than with each other. Thus, respect for human rights in democracies does not lead to a generalized pacifism or aversion to war, or even to a preference (relative to authoritarian countries) for resolving conflicts using peaceful means.” (p.126).

In concluding, Posner admits successes, but he lays bare the overall systemic shortcomings and the unique challenges of various states. However, he suggests there is hope in a “fresh start” and a humbler approach on the part of Western nations. While the inclusion of a table of cases would have enhanced the book, it is nevertheless replete with data, including an extensive List of Rights (Appendix) and a bibliography. The Twilight of Human Rights Law is an important assessment of human rights law, useful for human rights scholars in general, persons interested in European Union law or anyone who desires a current analysis of human rights law. It can be read in tandem with Christian Tomuschat’s Human Rights: Between Idealism and Realism, 3rd ed. (2014), also by Oxford University Press.