Researching a domestic law topic can be stressful enough. But the stress level ratchets up when asked to venture into the arena of international law. I wanted to bring to your attention a web site that I have found useful (and calming) when researching in the area of international human rights – Bayefsky.com.
Bayefsky.com is the project of Professor A. F. Bayefsky, a professor who has taught at both Canadian and United States academic institutions. She is also a barrister and solicitor in the Ontario bar, and has an affiliation with the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA). Bayefsky.com states that its mission is to make human rights treaty information and associated remedial mechanisms accessible to victims of human rights abuse. Easy accessibility also serves the function of “enhancing the implementation of the human rights legal standards of the United Nations.”
For my money, this web site contains the clearest explanation of the United Nations Human Rights Treaty system that I’ve come across. It sorts Human Rights Treaty information into different categories, so that the researcher can easily determine to which treaties a specific country is a signatory, or simply access certain kinds of documents by state or category. For example, if one wanted to see all jurisprudence in which Canada has been involved regarding the Convention Against Torture, just go to the “by State” link, click into Canada, select “Jurisprudence,” which then presents a choice for jurisprudence involving several Treaties, one of which is the Convention Against Torture. As of this writing, information is updated as of February, 2012. Another plus is that the information dates back to the 1970's.
Not a lot of the grant money that supports this site has been devoted to design. But through explanatory text, it does a good job directing the researcher to the plentiful sources of information. As a side note, although Bayefsky.com also provides links to the nine human rights treaties, I prefer to use the treaties as found on the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights’s web site. There, each treaty contains a link in the upper-left hand corner to the United Nations Treaty Status site, needed to check the status of ratifications, reservations, and declarations.