Human Rights Resources


  • James Church
  • Office Hours: By appointment
  • Office Location: 438 Doe Library
  • Contact Info:

    510 678-7611

About this Guide

This guide is intended to be a starting point in human rights research at the UCB Library.

Electronic Resource Finder

The most important research section of the library web site is the Library Electronic Resource Finder. This is the library directory of databases and other information resources, organized by subject (e.g. political science) type (e.g. encyclopedias) as well as other categories. It also contains a link to a comprehensive listing of library e-journals.

Campus Library Map

Click on the image below to see a larger interactive version of the campus library map.

UC Berkeley Library campus map

You can also view/download a PDF map of library locations. For library contact information and building addresses, visit our directory.

Catalogs & Search Engines

Find a book that matches your topic and go to the call number range to browse. Check the references and bibliography.

Google Scholar
. Functions as both a key word database for articles and books. It automatically connects to select licensed content held by the UC libraries. 

Google Books. Millions of scanned books worldwide.  Search the text of the books, view previews or "snippets" from books still in copyright, and read the full text of out-of-copyright books.  To read the text of a copyrighted book, use the Find in a Library link to locate the book at UC Berkeley or search OskiCat.

Oskicat. UC Berkeley libraries catalog. Includes records for most UCB library materials, including books, e-books, journal and e-journal titles, films and videos, maps, archival materials, and much more. See also the Quick Guide to Oskicat and Oskicat Tutorial.

. Catalog for all UC Campus libraries, including selected libraries on campus not in Oskicat, e.g. the Boalt Law Library. 

Connecting from Off Campus

You can access UCB Library resources from off campus or via your laptop or other mobile device using one of two simple methods:

Proxy Server
After you make a one-time change in your web browser settings, the proxy server will ask you to log in with a CalNet ID or Library PIN when you click on the link to a licensed resource. See the setup instructions, FAQ, and Troubleshooting pages to configure your browser.

VPN (Virtual Private Network)
After you install and run the VPN "client" software on your computer, you can log in with a CalNet ID to establish a secure connection with the campus network.

Research Advisory Service

Research Advisory Service for Cal Undergraduates

Book a 30-minute appointment with a librarian who will help refine and focus research inquiries, identify useful online and print sources, and develop search strategies for humanities and social sciences topics (examples of research topics).

Schedule, view, edit or cancel your appointment online (CalNetID required)

This service is for Cal undergraduates only. Graduate students and faculty should contact the library liaison to their department or program for specialized reference consultations.

Citation Management Tools

Citation management tools help you manage your research, collect and cite sources, and create bibliographies in a variety of citation styles.  Each one has its strengths and weaknesses, but any are easier than doing it by hand!

  1. Zotero: A free plug-in that works exclusively with the Firefox browser: keeps copies of what you find on the web, permits tagging, notation, full text searching of your library of resources, works with Word, and has a free web backup service.
  2. RefWorks - free for UC Berkeley users. It allows you to create your own database by importing references and using them for footnotes and bibliographies. Use the RefWorks New User Form to sign up.
  3. EndNote: may be purchased from UC Berkeley's Software Central.

It's always good to double check the formatting -- sometimes the software doesn't get it quite right.

Human Rights Search

HuriSearch.  Custom search engine providing "one point access to all human rights information published by human rights organizations worldwide." From Human Rights Information and Documentation Systems, International.

What Convention? This search engine will help you find your issue or human right in the Human Rights conventions, treaties, etc where it is located.

Human Rights Reference Books

The reference books below are a few examples of many items in the reference room on the second floor of Doe library.  To find more, do a keyword search in Oskicat and limit your search in the pull-down menu to "Doe Reference."

Human rights worldwide : a reference handbook Doe Reference. JC571 .K23 2006. Read at Google Read at Google

Human rights in international law : basic texts. Doe Reference. JX4000 .C6321 2007. Read at Google Read at Google

An encyclopedia of human rights in the United State Doe Reference Reference Hall. KF4747.5 .C37 2011. Read at Google Read at Google

Human rights in the twentieth century. Main & Graduate Reserves. JC571 .H769545 2011. Read at Google Read at Google

Texts and materials on international human rights Doe Reference. K3240.S57 2010. Read at Google Read at Google

Encyclopedia of human rights Doe Reference Reference Hall. JC571 .E673 2009. Read at Google Read at Google

The international human rights movement : a history. Moffitt JC571 .N377 2012. Read at Google Read at Google

A dictionary of human rights. Doe Reference. K3239.3.R67 2004. Read at Google Read at Google

A UN high commissioner in defence of human rights. Doe Reference K3241.R36 2005. Read at Google Read at Google

The history of human rights : from ancient times to the globalization era Main (Gardner) Stacks JC571.I73 2004. Read at Google Read at Google

Human Rights Online Reference

Amnesty International Annual Report.  In addition to the annual report, AI produces other country or topic specific reports. The AI USA  office web site is better organized and offers easy access to older annual reports.

Country Reports on Human Rights Practices.  Annual report on human rights practices worldwide from the United States Department of State. 

Oxford Bibliographies. Great way to deal with information overload: here are lists of good books in the areas of international law and international relations, including human rights.

Oxford Encyclopedia of Human Rights. Human rights theory, practice, law, and history. Includes major figures, organizations, human rights events and crises, and human rights norms.

Human Rights Watch World Report.  Summarizes humen rights conditions from around the world. There are many useful reports available on related topics, e.g. child labor, migration, refugees, etc.

Introduction to the History of International Human Rights Law. Online overview of the history of international human rights law.

Routledge Politics and International Relations Online.  Includes the Encyclopedia of The United Nations and International Agreements the Routledge Encyclopedia of Human Rights.

General & Subject Databases

The following general databases are a good place to start when looking for human rights journal articles, but more specialized sources are also available: please see the other sections below on legal databases and international and area specific databases.

Academic Search Complete. A general multidisciplinary index to articles for thousands of journals and other publications. Full-text is available for over 5300 journals.

Alternative Press Index. Alternative, radical, and left magazines and journals which report and analyze issues of cultural, economic, political, and social change. Approximately 90% of publications included are not indexed elsewhere: editorials, columns, essays, speeches, interviews, biographies, obituaries, memoirs; and reviews. 

America: History and Life. Indexes over 2,000 journals published worldwide on the history of the US and Canada from prehistory to the present. Includes all key English-language historical journals; selected historical journals from major countries, state, and local history journals; and a targeted selection of hundreds of journals in the social sciences and humanities.

CIAO (Columbia International Affairs Online). Journals, books, policy briefs, working papers, and conference proceedings from research institutes worldwide related to international affairs analysis and advocacy. Also includes links to international affairs Internet sources.

Historical Abstracts. Indexes over 2,000 journals, as well as historical book reviews and dissertations, published worldwide about all aspects of world history (excluding US and Canada) from 1450 to the present. Articles covered were written from 1954 to the present

JSTOR. Includes over 1000 scholarly journals with access to more than 2 million articles. JSTOR is an archive which means that current issues (generally the most recent 3-5 years) of the journals are not yet available.

PolicyFile. Index to public policy in the areas of economics, politics, the environment, and social issues, taken from reports from a wide range of think tanks, Non-governmental organizations, international governmental organizations, and other institutions worldwide.

PAIS International. Indexes books, journals, government documents,  grey literature, research reports, and web sources related to public policy, politics, and social issues worldwide. Some material published in European Languages. 

Proquest Social Sciences. Interdisciplinary metasearch through 22 of the the social sciences indexes on the ProQuest platform. Includes EconLit, International Bibliography of the Social Sciences (IBSS), Linguistics and Language Behavior Abstracts, PAIS, PsycInfo, Sociological Abstracts, Worldwide Political Science Abstracts and mor

Women's Studies International. Indexes books, journals, magazines, and other resources related to research and commentary on women and women's issues. Includes thousands so research articles relating to human rights women and children.

Web of Science. Indexes leading journals in the arts, humanities, sciences and social sciences, providing searching of footnoted citations. Includes the Arts & Humanities Citation Index, Science Citation Index, and Social Sciences Citation Index.

Worldwide Political Science Abstracts. Indexes books, journals, and dissertations within the field of political science and related to international relations, law and politics, political economy, public administration, and public policy. (Search all Proquest Social Sciences databases.)

Legal Databases

For a dazzling glimpse into the complex world of international law and human rights see also the Boalt Law Library Research Guide to International Human Rights Law.

Hein Online
. Provides full text to the early issues of many legal journals and law reviews, the Federal Register (1936-six months ago), US Supreme Court Library (1754-present) and treaties and agreements.

Index to Legal Periodicals and Books/Index to Legal Periodicals Retrospective
. Indexes legal journals, yearbooks, institutes, university publications, law reviews, books, and government publications from the United States and selected foreign countries. The Index to Legal Periodicals Retrospective (1918-1981) secton indexes over 500 legal periodicals back to 1918.

. Indexes journals, law reviews, and magazines related to legal research and commentary on case studies, government regulations, the practice of law, statutes, taxation, and international law.

Proquest Academic. Titles of international, national and local newspapers and wire services; radio and television transcripts; and business, and legislative magazines, newsletters, legal cases, and law reviews.  Geographic coverage and translations from foreign-language sources, as well as news services like the Associated Press, Agence France Press, El Pais and Xinhua (New China) News Agency. 

International & Area Databases

ABSEES Online Database. Indexes journal articles, books, dissertations, selected government publications, and online resources published in the US and Canada on East and Central Europe, Russia, and the former Soviet Union. Covers the more recent years of the print equivalent, American Bibliography of Slavic and East European Studies.

Africa-Wide NiPADA comprehensive database covering journals, magazines, newspapers, broadcasts, books and more on all aspects of Africa including politics, history, economics, literature, music and natural sciences. Combines the databases previously known as African Studies and South African Studies.

Bibliography of Asian Studies (BAS)Over 500,000 citations to journal articles, books, and conference proceedings worldwide on the countries, histories, and cultures of East, South, and Southeast Asia.

Handbook of Latin American StudiesIndexes books, journals and proceedings to create an annual bibliography on Latin America consisting of works selected and annotated by scholars, alternating between focusing on the humanities and the social sciences.

International Bibliography of the Social Sciences (IBSS)   . Indexes over 3000 journals, books, chapters, and book reviews in the fields of economics, political science, sociology, and anthropology from more than 100 countries. More than 70 languages are represented, with 30% percent of records published in languages other than English. (Search all ProQuest Social Sciences databases.)

Index IslamicusIndexes literature on Islam, the Middle East and the Muslim world. Over 3,000 journals are monitored for inclusion in the database, together with conference proceedings, monographs, multi-authored works and book reviews. Journals and books are indexed down to the article and chapter level.

The United Nations & Human Rights

The following is a brief guide to some of the government agencies worldwide producing information on human rights. In addition to the United Nations, see also below the sections on NGOs, US Government sources, and other International Government Organizations.

To get started finding International Governmental Organization (IGO) human rights information you may wish to try the following IGO Custom Search Engine, which was initiated by David Oldenkamp, International Documents Librarian at Indiana University, and searches 392 urls of International Governmental Organizations (IGOs). 

United Nations Yearbook.  Searchabler online compilation of the primary UN reference volume, with the full text of the entire series from 1946. The current year is excluded but is available in print in the Government Reference Collection. Each yearbook contains summaries with supporting citations of key UN activities, including several hundred pages on human rights.  

Multilateral Treaties Deposited with the Secretary-General. Contains the current status of over 500 multilateral treaties including country declarations and reservations. Part of the United Nations Treaty Collection.  Select "databases" from the top and then select MTDSG.

ReliefWeb. Humanitarian crisis and emergency awareness service administered by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

Refworld Collection of country information, reports, policy documents, national legislation, position papers, and more on refugees. Use the country name and select "filter" to refine results.

United Nations & Human Rights Research Guide.  Detailed research guide for UN documentation on human rights, compiled by the UN Dag Hammarskjöld Library

United Nations Human Rights Treaties. (From Bayefsky.Com). Provides access to documents from the UN human rights treaty system. Materials include the text of treaties, documents from the UN treaty bodies, information on reform of the system, and other information.

United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). Main office for information on the human rights activities of the UN.  Primary features include: the Human Rights Bodies section which contains information about Charter-based Bodies as well as the Treaty-based Bodies.  The Charter-based Bodies include information and documents regarding the Human Rights Council.  The Treaties-based Bodies section provides extensive information on each of the human rights treaty bodies (or committees - see below).

Universal Human Rights Index of United Nations Documents  Gateway designed "to facilitate access to human rights documents issued by the UN human rights treaty bodies and the special procedures of the Human Rights Council."  Search by country, by rights and by human rights body.

The UN Secretary-General's Database on Violence Against Women  Includes laws, policies, programs, institutional mechanisms, research, statistical data, country pages, good practices, and a search mechanism.

United Nations Treaty Body Database.  Searchable database all the documents submitted to or issued by UN treaty-based monitoring committees (see below).  Includes state "periodic" reports and UN commmitte concluding observations, as well as NGO documents if an NGO disagrees with the State report submitted.

Universal Periodic Review Database.  Universal periodic review mechanism intended to summarize and review the human rights record of every UN member country (regardless of whether they are signatory to the treaties listed above) once every four years. 

Violence Against Women Database.  Provides information "on the extent, nature and consequences of all forms of violence against women, and on the impact and effectiveness of policies and programmes for, including best practices in, combating such violence."  There is an advanced search engine and a page for each Member State.

United Nations and Humanitarian Relief

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The United Nations Refugee Agency. Includes many online books, papers and statistics.

Relief Web. Web portal from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Hails itself as "the world's leading gateway to information on humanitarian emergencies and disasters."

Refworld. Collection of country information, reports, policy documents, national legislation, position papers, and more on refugees. Use the country name and select "filter" to refine results

United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Chief UN office for coordination of humanitarian affairs, within the UN itself and with other international agencies, especially for major emergencies and natural disasters.

Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission. Includes section on mitigation of marine related disasters.

Joint UNEP/OCHA Environment Unit. United Nations mechanism to coordinate the international response to environmental emergencies and natural disasters.

Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS). The UN AIDS agency. See the section on HIV/AIDS in Emergency Settings.

United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF). United Nations children's agency. See the section for publications on children and emergencies.

United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction. UN agency charged with reducing human, social, economic and environmental losses due to natural hazards.

United Nations Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries. UN Office for Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries, and Small Island Developing States.

United Nations Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Committee.  Third Committee" of the UN General Assembly, with a mandate to address human rights, social development, refugees, advancement of women, indigenous peoples, and more. 

World Food Programme (WFP). The United Nations Food Agency. The WFP is the world's largest international food aid organization, dedicated to combating hunger in nations with severe food shortages.

World Health Organization. Activities, reports, news and events in WHO programmes and offices working on the health-related aspects of disasters.

United States Government & Human Rights

ProQuest Congressional. One stop shop for U.S. congressional publications. Abstracts of congressional publications back to 1789, including full text of published Congressional Hearings from 1824-present, Committee Prints from 1830, Congressional Research Service (CRS) Reports from 1916-present, the United States Congressional Serial Set from 1789-present, and some legislative histories. 

Country Reports on Human Rights Practices. Informative annual report on human rights practices for all countries worldwide from the United States Department of State.

ProQuest Legislative Insight.  Provides access to more than 18,000 professionally researched legislative histories of US Law. Histories include the Public Law itself, all versions of related bills, law-specific Congressional Record excerpts, committee hearings, reports and prints, Presidential signing statements, and CRS reports, from 1929-present.

Other International Human Rights Organizations

African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights. Quasi-judicial body tasked with promoting and protecting human rights throughout the African continent.

Council of Europe. See especially the European Court of Human Rights, the only international court where and invidual may bring a human rights complaint forward to an international court.

European Union (EU). Economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe.  

Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. World's largest regional security organization offering documentation in the fields of early warning, conflict prevention, crisis management, post-conflict rehabilitation. See the section on Human Rights.

Organization of American States
. International Organization of member states in the Americas.  The section on human rights containts key OAS human rights commissions and documents.

NGOs & Human Rights

This search engine was developed by David Oldenkamp at Indiana University and James Jacobs at Stanford. The site seaches NGOs with Consultative Status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council and other NGO directories on the Internet.

Amnesty International. Contains new document summaries, publications from AI (including the annual country reports) and links.Their current annual report is available on their site, while older editions are available in the Main (Gardner) Stacks. Includes human rights reports on several countries providing resources for case support (country condition information), legal research, and links to other relevant sites in the Case Support section.

The Advocates for Human Rights. In-depth coverage on human rights issues in the US from a legal perspective:

American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) US Human Rights Page.  ACLU Human Rights Program (HRP) dedicated to holding the U.S. government accountable to universal human rights principles in addition to rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.

China’s Report on US Human Rights Violations. Interesting anc challenging account of United States Human Rights violations according to Xinhua, the official Chinese news source.

Human Rights Watch. One of the premier human rights NGOs worldwide.  Browse of search human rights related publications by country and/or topic. See also Human Rights Watch US

Human Traficking Search
. Search engine focusing on human trafficking, including human trafficking, child labor, bonded labor and sex slavery.   The site can be searched or browsed and much of the content is full text.

International Crisis Group. Independent, non-profit, non-governmental organisation committed to preventing and resolving deadly conflict. See especially the Crisis Watch Database for a 12-page monthly bulletin designed to provide an update on significant situations of conflict or potential conflict around the world.

National Economic and Social Rights Initiative. Comprehensive and up-to-date news and info about economic and social rights in the US.

OneWorld Online. OneWorld is "dedicated to promoting human rights and sustainable development by harnessing the democratic potential of the Internet."  It contains news, thematic guides and other resources.

Protection Project. Documents and disseminates information about trafficking in persons, especially women and children, with a focus on national and international laws, case law, and implications of trafficking on foreign policy.

US Human Rights Network. Latest info on US Human Rights Issues. The "Resources" Link gives updates on current US issues.

The United Nations and Civil Society

This page lists selected civil society organizations engaged in monitoring and critiquing the UN. Such organizations are often the best way to quickly find UN information related to a specific humna rights topic.

Center for UN Reform Education.  Independent, non-partisan, non-profit policy research organization dedicated to encourage, generate and sustain discussion of various specific proposals to reform and restructure the United Nations.

Coaltion for the International Criminal Court. Includes 2,500 civil society organizations in 150 different countries working in partnership to strengthen international cooperation with the ICC.

Free United Nations Coaltion for Access.  Organization aiming to "hold the UN to its stated purposes by making it transparent and accessible without discrimination."

Global Center for the Responsibility to Protect.  International NGO created to "transform the principle of the responsibility to protect into a practical guide for action in the face of mass atrocities."

Global Policy Forum. Independent policy watchdog that monitors the work of the United Nations and scrutinizes global policymaking.

Inner City Press. "Investigative reporting From the Inner City to Wall Street to the United Nations."

International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect.  Coalition bringing together NGOs from all regions of the world to strengthen normative consensus for RtoP. Affiliated with the World Federalist Movement.

International Progress Organization.  Vienna rganization that sponsors international conferences and research seminars on democracy, human rights, dialogue of civilizations,  conflict resolution, and other international issues.

Reform the UN. From the World Federalist Movement.  Dedicated to a strengthened and more democratized United Nations.

Security Council Report. Independent organisation founded on the belief that high-quality information about the activities of the UN Security Council and is essential to the performance of the Council and an informed public.

United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs: NGO Branch. Includes a searchable database of  UN civil society organizations. Advanced search allows many combinations, including by organization name and type, region and country, consultative status, language, geographic scope, fields of activity and meeting participation.

UNElections.Org Encourages the UN to increase transparency regarding how posts are filled, place a greater emphasis on individual qualifications, reduce the political and financial trading of positions, etc.

United Nations Global Compact.  UN strategic policy initiative for businesses committed to aligning their operations and strategies with ten universally accepted principles in the areas of human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption.

United Nations and Civil Society. UN gateway site to information about non-governmental and civil society organizations with consultative status with the UN Economic and Social Council.

UN Watch. Non-governmental organization mandated to monitor the performance of the United Nations by the yardstick of its own Charter.

World Federalist Movement/Institute for Global Policy.  Works to advance the global promise of peace and is committed to building a safer and more just world. Affiliated with many other UN reform and advocacy groups listed above.

Human Rights Primary Sources

The following is a list of primary resource databases the library subscrives to which contain government records, newspapers, photographs, music, and other primary source databases of potential research value for the study of human rights. 

Human Rights Web Guides

These guides are intended primarily for advanced researchers in international human rights law.  If you wish to investigate human rights case law (judgements from an international court) consulting these is a good way to start.  If you need further assistance please make an appointment at  Doe or the Boalt Law Library.

An Introduction to the History of International Human Rights Law
. An online overview of the history of international human rights law. Well organized site provides reports, concluding observations, ratifications, reservations and declarations, jurisprudence and other types of documents on the major U.N. human rights treaties. It is searchable by type of document, country or subject. See especially the section on Jurisprudence which is excellent for finding documented cases of international human rights violations.

Eletronic Information System for International Law (ESIL). Comprehensive guide to international human rights law on the Interent. See the sections on Human Rights and Humanitarian Law.

Georgetown Law Library Human Rights Research Guide.  Excellent human rights law guide, from the library serving the Georgetown Human Rights Institute.

Researching International Human Rights Law.  Guide by Marci Hoffman, UC Boalt Law Library. See also her guide on International Human Rights and her other guides at Boalt, e.g. on International Humanitarian Law.

Harvard University Human Rights Research Resources. Exhaustive guide to international human rights research from the Harvard Law School Library.

Human Rights Internet.  International network of human rights organizations, documentation centre, and a publishing house. This site contains a lot of everything including UN documents, education materials, resource guides and lists of links.

University of Minnesota Human Rights Library. Contains collection of many of the most important international human rights treaties and other instruments. These documents can be accessed by subject matter, instrument list, or by using one of the search mechanism.

Related Subject Guides

Related Course Guides

Subscribe to RSS RSS Feed
add to bookmark Bookmark This

Go To Full Version