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International & Foreign Law Legal Research

Sources of International Law - Introduction

Treaties and international agreements are considered primary source material in international law and are given the greatest weight by international courts and tribunals.  These sources are followed in importance by international custom and general principles of international law.

Sources of International Law are established by Article 38 of the Statute of the International Court of Justice (in descending order):

  1. International Conventions / Treaties

  2. International Custom

  3. General Principles of Law Recognized by Civilized Nations

  4. Judicial decisions and teachings of the most highly qualified publicists of the various nations, as subsidiary means for the determination of rules of law