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Bluebook Citation: International Materials

This guide provides the basics for first year memorandums and upper class papers and journals.

Types of International Materials

There are many different types of international resources that you may cite in your practice and study of law.  The following are some of the popular forms:

  • Foreign cases
  • International cases
  • Treaties
  • Arbitration
  • United Nations documents
  • Foreign statutes, constitutions, and regulations

Foreign Law Resources

Foreign law, which is distinct from international law, is the domestic law of a foreign country.  T2 and T10 are important tables for formatting foreign law citations.  See Rule 20 for information on how to cite foreign resources - it covers information on jurisdiction, non-English-language documents, constitutions, statutes, and periodicals.

Table 2 was removed from the Bluebook and can be accessed online.


The following tables should be consulted for citations of international and foreign law resources:

T2: Foreign Jurisdictions

T3: Intergovernmental Organizations

T4: Treaty Sources

T5: Arbitral Reporters

T10: Geographic Terms

Treaties and International Agreements - Rule 21.4

Rule 21.4 outlines the requirements for citing international treaties and agreements.  The important elements of a treaty citation are: name of the agreement, parties to the agreement, date of signing, and treaty sources.  The names of parties of the treaty should be in alphabetical order (Rule 21.4.2). Like cases, treaties require a pinpoint citation to a specific provision, but in this instance they are called subdivisions (Rule 21.4.3). 

Remember that there are two types of treaties: multilateral and bilateral.  There are different rules for each type of treaty.

Anatomy of a treaty citation:

Name of Agreement, subdivision, date of signing, U.S. treaty source, international treaty source.

If the U.S. is a party to the treaty, you must cite a U.S. treaty source as well as an international treaty source (Rule 21.4.5(a).  Consult T4 for international treaty sources, as both multilateral and bilateral treaties should be cited using the preferred domestic sources (Rule 21.4).

International Law Cases - Rule 21.5

Rule 21.5 contains the requirements for citing international law cases.  Citations typically contain the following elements:

  • Case name
  • Case number
  • Reporter
  • Type of decision
  • Pincite
  • Date and court parenthetical

You should use Rule 21.5 in conjunction with Rule 10 while citing international law cases.  There are specific rules within Rule 21.5 for different judicial bodies, such as the International Court of Justice, the European Union Courts, and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. 

United Nations Sources - Rule 21.7

Rule 21.7 governs the citation of United Nations sources.  The U.N. releases a significant number of documents, including decisions, press releases, and resolutions.  Unlike other sources, the Bluebook prefers the citation of paragraphs, not page numbers, with U.N. documents.  There are also a variety of different organizations and bodies within the U.N. itself that must be specified, along with the relevant document number, when citing.  The following sources are discussed within Rule 21.7 of the Bluebook:

  • Verbatim and Summary Records
  • Resolutions and Decisions
  • U.N. Reports
  • Masthead Documents
  • U.N. Press Releases and Memoranda
  • Adjudicatory Bodies Established by the U.N. (for example the ICTY)
  • Sales Publications
  • Yearbooks and Periodicals
  • Regional Organization Documents
  • The U.N. Charter
  • Internet Materials

Non-English Language Resources

Rule 20.2 contains the requirements for citing foreign materials that are not in English.  The priority is to cite the official version of the document - in cases where an English version is just as authoritative as the non-English version, you can use the English document.  Rule 20.2.4 lays out the requirements for sources in languages that do not use the Roman alphabet, with specific notations for Chinese language materials.  T2 contains jurisdiction-specific information on transliteration for non-English language materials.