Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs: Information Resources

This is a selective guide to resources at Columbia University Libraries and on the Internet, for conducting research on international human rights issues.

Resources marked with this symbol are restricted to Columbia affiliates.

Online Catalogs

  • CLIO: Columbia Libraries Online Catalog
    CLIO is the online catalog for the Columbia and Barnard libraries. It includes over 4 million records for books, journal or newspaper titles (not articles), online resources, government documents, microforms, sound or video recordings, archival collections, etc.
  • Pegasus: Columbia University Law School Library Online Catalog
    Pegasus includes: U.S. federal and state law, selected Commonwealth jurisdictions, major foreign language collections and, since 1983, vernacular and Western language materials pertaining to law in Japan and the People's Rep. of China.
  • WorldCat
    An online catalog of the collections of 24,000 member libraries of the OCLC consortium, comprising more than 36 million records for books, serials, manuscript collections, audiovisual materials, computer files, and other media.
  • Borrow Direct
    A borrowing service offered by the university libraries of Columbia, Brown, Cornell, Dartmouth, Pennsylvania, Princeton, and Yale. It is designed to allow students, faculty and staff to request (and receive in four days) books directly from each other's collections.

Background Information

  • Cartwright, Rita Cantos.
    Human Rights in the United States : a Dictionary and Documents. 2 vols.
    Santa Barbara, CA : ABC-CLIO, 2000.
    Call Number: KF 4747.5 .C37 2000
  • Crimes of War
    "A unique collaboration of journalists, lawyers and scholars that seeks to raise awareness of the laws of war."
  • Encyclopedia of Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity
    Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA, 2005.
  • Encyclopedia of Human Rights. 2nd ed. 5 vols.
    Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, 2009.
    Call Number: JC 571 .E673 2009 (Copies available in multiple locations)
  • Encyclopedia of the World’s Minorities. 3 vol.
    New York : Routledge, 2005.
    Call Number: GN 495.4 .E63 2005
  • Financial Tracking Service: Tracking Global Humanitarian Aid Flows
     The FTS is a global, real-time database which records all reported international hummanitarian aid(including that for NGOs and the Red Cross / Red Crescent Movement, bilateral aid, in-kind aid, and private donations). FTS features a special focus on consolidated and flash appeals, because they cover the major humanitarian crises and because their funding requirements are well defined - which allows FTS to indicate to what extent populations in crisis receive humanitarian aid in proportion to needs.
  • Gorman, Robert F.
    Historical Dictionary of Human Rights and Humanitarian Organizations. 2nd ed.
    Lanham, Md. : Scarecrow Press, 2007.
    Call Number: JC 571 .G655 2007
  • Human Rights by Country
    The website of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights provides information (OHCHR) on human rights in the world for each Member State of the United Nations. The State's homepages provide: status of ratifications/reservations of human rights conventions; reporting status on human rights conventions; if a Government extended an open invitation to all thematic special procedures; links to relevant (if any) resolutions or decisions of the General Assembly, Human Rights Council, Human Rights Commission and statements; Voluntary Pledges and Commitments (if any); State's compliance with their treaty obligations.
  • Langley, Winston.
    Encyclopedia of Human Rights Issues Since 1945.
    Westport, CT : Greenwood Press, 1999.
    Call Number: JC 571 .L2747 1999
  • Lewis, James R.
    The Human Rights Encyclopedia. 3 vols.
    Armonk, N.Y. : Sharpe Reference, c2001.
  • PreventionWeb: Countries & Regions
    For each country, PreventionWeb has collected information related to the prevention of natural disasters. This can include National Platforms for Disaster Risk Reduction, other policies and plans, data and statistics, risk profiles, educational materials, disaster risk reduction organizations, maps, and other documents and publications.
  • Robertson, David.
    A Dictionary of Human Rights. 2nd ed.
    London ; New York : Europa, 2004.
    Call Number: K 3239.3 .R67 2004g (Copies available in multiple locations)
  • Statistical Methods for Human Rights
    New York ; London : Springer, c2008.

Books, Journals, & Articles


This is a selective list of the major journals on human rights at Columbia and on the Internet. Many other journals also contain articles related to the study of human rights, and can be accessed through the standard indexes.

Journal Articles

    This search engine aims to provide one point access to all human rights information published by human rights organisations worldwide, and particularly human rights NGOs.
  • International Development Abstracts.
    Norwich, UK : Geo Abstracts, 1982-2006.
    Call Number: HC 59.7 .I11
  • International Political Science Abstracts. Bimonthly.
    Paris: International Political Science Association, 1951-
    Call Number: JA 36 .I5 (Copies available in multiple locations)
  • PAIS International. Monthly.
    New York : Public Affairs Information Service, 1915-
    Call Number: Z 7163 .P922
  • ProQuest Congressional
    ProQuest Congressional is the most comprehensive online resource available for congressional publications and legislative research. Included are: Committee Hearings, Committee Prints, Congressional Research Service (CRS) Reports, House and Senate Documents, House and Senate Reports, Senate Executive Reports, Senate Executive Treaty Documents, Legislative Histories, Statutes at Large, the Serial Set and Serial Set Maps. Most of the content is full text.
  • ProQuest Statistical Insight
    The ProQuest Statistical database provides comprehensive access to statistical data. Many of the sources are linked to the full text of the data, although some state, private, and IGO sources are cited, allowing the researcher to then locate the statistical source on the internet or in the library, either in print or as part of the microfiche service which accompanies the printed index.


In addition to the directories listed below, there are directories for individual countries. Locate these with a subject search in CLIO (s=human rights--[name of country]--directories).

Annual Reviews

Human Rights Advocacy Organizations

CIAO: Columbia International Affairs Online
Columbia International Affairs Online (CIAO) is designed to be the most comprehensive source for theory and research in international affairs. It publishes a wide range of scholarship from 1991 on that includes working papers from university research institutes, occasional papers series from NGOs, foundation-funded research projects, and proceedings from conferences.

  • Active Learning Network for Accountability and Performance in Humanitarian Action (ALNAP)
    ALNAP is a collective response by the humanitarian sector, dedicated to improving humanitarian performance through increased learning and accountability. ALNAP uses the broad range of experience and expertise within its membership to produce tools and analysis relevant and accessible to the humanitarian sector as a whole.
  • African Human Rights Resource Center
    This human rights resource center contains a collection of international human rights materials with a particular focus on Africa as well as a collection of global International Human Rights Instruments -- treaties, declarations, and other materials -- together with authoritative citations. This site is a joint project of the Makerere University Human Rights and Peace Center and the University of Minnesota Human Rights Center.
  • American Association for the Advancement of Science: Scientific Responsibility, Human Rights and Law Program
    The Science and Human Rights Program has five major purposes: (1) to document human rights violations affecting the scientific community world-wide and to bring effective aid to foreign scientists, health professionals, engineers, teachers and students in these fields whose internationally recognized human rights have been violated; (2) to advance the use of scientific methods and procedures in the documentation and prevention of human rights violations; (3) to develop scientific methods for monitoring implementation of human rights norms; (4) to promote greater understanding of and support for human rights within the scientific community; and (5) to support the right of academic freedom, and the ability of scientists, teachers and students to pursue their work without interference.
  • Amnesty International Online
    Information at this site includes: Amnesty International's Mandate, Univ. Declaration of Human Rights, AI Statistics, AI Programs in the USA, Amnesty International offices worldwide, AIUSA Publications Catalog, AI Annual Reports (1993-present), and human rights reports for various countries.
  • Canadian Consortium on Human Security (CCHS)
    The Canadian Consortium on Human Security (CCHS) is an academic-based network promoting policy-relevant research on human security. The site provides article and publication abstracts, conferences and seminars, research funding sources, and human security-related jobs postings.
  • Council of Europe, Commissioner for Human Rights
    Provides access to the European Court of Human Rights and the The European Community Humanitarian Office (ECHO), as well as all of the relevant human rights instruments for Europe. Includes a searchable Human Rights Documentation (HUDOC) case law database.
  • Derechos Human Rights
    Derechos Human Rights is the first internet based human rights organization. Our purpose is to work for the promotion and respect of human rights all over the world, for the right to privacy and against impunity for human rights violators. We use the internet as our primary information and communication tool.
  • Federation Internationale des Ligues de Droits de l'Homme (International Federation of Human Rights Leagues)
    FIDH consists of over 100 organizations in 86 countries. It is also active in the protection of those who work toward human rights.
  • Human Rights Internet (HRI)
    HRI promotes human rights education, stimulates research, encourages the sharing of information, and builds international solidarity among those committed to the principles enshrined in the International Bill of Human Rights. It serves the information needs of international scholars, human rights activists, asylum lawyers, and other organizations via an extensive documentation centre and computerized databases.
  • Human Rights Watch
    Human Rights Watch conducts regular, systematic investigations of human rights abuses in some seventy countries around the world. It includes five divisions covering Africa, the Americas, Asia, the Middle East, as well as the signatories of the Helsinki accords. It also includes five collaborative projects on arms transfers, children's rights, free expression, prison conditions, and women's rights.
  • InterAction, A United Voice for Global Change
    InterAction is a coalition of over 150 US-based non-profits working to promote human dignity and development in 165 countries around the world.
  • International Committee of the Red Cross
    The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is an impartial, neutral and independent organization whose exclusively humanitarian mission is to protect the lives and dignity of victims of war and internal violence and to provide them with assistance. It directs and coordinates the international relief activities conducted by the Movement in situations of conflict. It also endeavours to prevent suffering by promoting and strengthening humanitarian law and universal humanitarian principles.
  • International Labour Organization (ILO)
    The ILO has a mandate to promote international labor standards and practices -- the rights and conditions of people in the workplace.
  • Minority Rights Group International
    The group acts as an advocate for the rights of ethnic, linguistic and religious minorities at the UN and with individual governments.
  • New Tactics in Human Rights
    The New Tactics in Human Rights project, led by a diverse group of international organizations and practitioners, promotes tactical innovation and strategic thinking within the international human rights community.
  • Organization of American States
    The OAS has a solid record of defending Human Rights, thanks to the work of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.
  • Rights & Democracy: International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development (Canada)
  • Statewatch
    "Monitoring the state and civil liberties in the European Union." Statewatch encourages the publication of investigative journalism and critical research in Europe the fields of the state, justice and home affairs, civil liberties, accountability and openness.

United States Government Agencies is the official United States Government (USG) website for human rights related information. The site's search function links users directly with news, reports and explanatory information from the State Department, USG agencies and other resources, allowing for easy access to publicly available documents.

Primary Source Documents and Archives

Center for Human Rights Documentation and Research, Columbia University Libraries
CHRDR is the official designated repository for the archival collections and internal records of major Human Rights organizations such as Amnesty International USA, Committee of Concerned Scientists and Human Rights Watch.

  • Human Rights by Country
    The website of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights provides information (OHCHR) on human rights in the world for each Member State of the United Nations. The State's homepages provide: status of ratifications/reservations of human rights conventions; reporting status on human rights conventions; if a Government extended an open invitation to all thematic special procedures; links to relevant (if any) resolutions or decisions of the General Assembly, Human Rights Council, Human Rights Commission and statements; Voluntary Pledges and Commitments (if any); State's compliance with their treaty obligations.
  • Basic Documents on Human Rights. 4th ed.
    New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.
    Call Number: K 3238 .A1 B76 2002 (Copies available in multiple locations)
  • Basic Documents Pertaining to Human Rights in the Inter-American System , from the Organization of American States
  • Human Rights: a Compilation of International Instruments. 6th ed. 2 vols.
    New York : United Nations, 2002.
    Call Number: K 3238 .H85 2002g
  • Human Rights Documents: Compilation of Documents Pertaining to Human Rights: U.S. Laws on Human Rights; Basic U.N. Human Rights Instruments.
    U.S. Government Documents Microfiche Y 4 .F 76/1: H 88/25
  • Human Rights in the Constitutions of UNESCO's member states in the Asia and Pacific region
  • Human Rights Library, University of Minnesota
    Contains a wide-ranging collection of human rights documents and web links; excellent as a general overview of human rights documentation: a collection of over ninety of the most important international human rights treaties and other instruments; general comments, recommendations, decisions, and views of human rights treaty bodies; material on the work of other U.N. human rights bodies, including the Commission and its Sub-Commission; the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda; decisions and advisory opinions of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and Inter-American Commission on Human Rights; material from the Organization on Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the Asylum Branch of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service; material on human rights in Africa, human rights education materials, human rights bibliographies; and links to other human rights and international law sites.
  • The International Bill of Human Rights.
    Glen Ellen, CA : Entwhistle Books, 1981.
    Call Number: K 3238 .A1 I533 1981 (Copies available in multiple locations)
  • International Humanitarian Law Database, International Committee of the Red Cross
    This site features the full text of 91 treaties and other documents dating back to 1856, commentaries on the four Geneva Conventions (1949) and their Additional Protocols (1977), a list of signatures, ratifications relating to IHL treaties, and the full text of reservations. Users can browse treaties, texts, and articles by keywords, or list states, parties, and signatories by country or treaty.
  • Lessons Learned from U.S. Humanitarian Interventions Abroad, National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 30 (2000)
    A very frank State Department report, obtained via a FOIA request by the National Security Archive.
  • Manual on Human Rights Reporting: Under Six Major International Human Rights Instruments.
    Geneva : United Nations, 1997.
    Call Number: K 3238 .M36 1997g
  • Multilaterals Project: Human Rights Section, Tufts University
    The Multilaterals Project, begun in 1992, is an ongoing project at the Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy, Tufts University, Medford, Massachusetts to make available the texts of international multilateral conventions and other instruments. Although t he project was initiated to improve public access to environmental agreements, the collection today also includes treaties in the fields of human rights, commerce and trade, laws of war and arms control, and other areas. Although the vast majority of texts date from the second half of this century, the collection also includes historical texts, from the 1648 Treaty of Westphalia to the Covenant of the League of Nations.
  • U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Treaty Bodies Database
    This database was established to meet the growing interest in the bodies established to monitor the principal international human rights treaties, also known as "conventional mechanisms": the Human Rights Committee, the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Committee against Torture, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women and the Committee on the Rights of the Child. It includes:
    • full texts of State reports submitted under these treaties
    • concluding observations or comments
    • general comments and recommendations
    • other basic documents submitted to and issued by the treaty bodies
  • United Nations. Human Rights Committee.
    Official Records of the Human Rights Committee.
    New York, N.Y. : United Nations, c1993- .
    Call Number: JX 1976.A49 XIV Y3221
  • United Nations Centre for Human Rights.
    United Nations Reference Guide in the Field of Human Rights.
    New York : United Nations, 1993.
    Call Number: Z 7164.L6 U54 1993g
        A guide to the U.N document numbers for all U.N. studies and reports on human rights and related aspects, arranged in broad categories, with more specific subject and regional indexes.
    The internet version, United Nations Documentation: Research Guide: Human Rights contains only material issued through the UN, but with many full-text links to documents.
  • The Universal Declaration of Human Rights Project, Columbia University
        This web-based project considers the influence of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on international and domestic law, politics and affairs over the last half century. It asks how and why international human rights have emerged, survived and even flourished as a shared ideology in the latter half of the twentieth century.
        The site is designed to be used as a resource in the classroom and in study at Columbia University and beyond, and offers students an innovative way to learn about this fascinating document and the ideas, institutions, and personalities involved in its history and modern day influence.
  • Universal Human Rights Instruments, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
    Contains the full texts of over 90 international human rights treaties, declarations and principles, as well as their status of ratification.
  • World Court Digest
    The World Court Digest represents a reproduction, in a systematic arrangement, of the views on questions of international law which are expressed in the judgements, advisory opinions and orders of the International Court of Justice as well as in the separate opinions of individual judges. Human rights law is well represented.

United Nations