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Foreign, Comparative, and International Legal Research

An introduction to researching foreign, comparative, and international law.

What is FCIL?

While often discussed as a group, foreign, comparative, and international law are three distinct subjects:

  • Foreign law refers to the domestic law of other countries.
  • Comparative law is the study of similarities and differences between the law of two or more countries or systems.
  • International law is a very broad category. Public international law refers to the law of international relations; the Restatement (Third) of Foreign Relations Law § 101 defines international law as the rules and principles of general application dealing with the conduct of states and of international organizations and with their relations inter se, as well as with some of their relations with persons, whether natural or juridical. Other topics of international law include international human rights law, international criminal law, international environmental law, international trade law, and more. (Private international law, or conflict of laws, is beyond the scope of this research guide; instead, see (for example) this guide from the American Society of International Law.)

This guide discusses researching each of these topics. It includes links to resources available at Temple and elsewhere, as well as suggestions for more advanced research.

The “Best Bets” section of this guide includes materials of wide applicability that are good starting points when beginning research on many FCIL topics. If you are delving deeper into one of these specific subjects, consult the separate pages for Foreign, Comparative, and International Law. For more advanced research, consult the Research Guides page for links to guides at other institutions covering various aspects of FCIL research, or contact the Temple Law Library to schedule a research consultation.