Legal Research at AMUN

Legal research can be a beast. But many basic research principles can also be applied to legal research. Use the tools already available and familiar to you; they will serve you well in the legal context as well.

Students often have access to many academic resources through their libraries. Be sure to take advantage of these resources in conducting legal research for the ICJ at AMUN. Resources such as LexisNexis and WestLaw will be a great aid in your search for any legal documentation.  These databases are generally good sources for cases and issues involving international law, which makes them a good place to turn to if you are looking for a particular document that is otherwise difficult to find.

The recently overhauled official ICJ website is an incredible resource. Now, most cases contain a summary, breakdown of the proceedings and statements from all of the parties to the case.  After a basic Google search to get a general background idea of the case, the ICJ website is the next place to turn to get a more in-depth idea of the issues of the case. The written proceedings will provide much of the factual background and legal issues in the case, although they are written from the perspective of the party to the case and therefore may leave out less persuasive facts and legal arguments.

Information about the background of the countries that are parties to a case can be incredibly helpful. Cases often stem from long standing geopolitical issues.  The geographical and political history of a country has a huge impact on a country’s decision to take an issue to the ICJ, and these should not be overlooked. It is easy to get carried away looking into the intricacies of the legal issues and arguments of a case, but without an understanding of the broader historical and political context, it is impossible to get the full picture and make an appropriate argument.

Understanding the arguments the other side will be raising is just as important to your case.  Some legal experts encourage dedicating more time to understanding your opponent’s potential arguments than your own.  This gives you the opportunity to raise arguments preemptively as well as prepare to respond to the other side’s arguments.  Being knowledgeable about your opponent’s arguments gives you the opportunity to poke holes through them as well as see another point of view.

There is a wealth of knowledge right at your fingertips made available through the internet and Google, but one of the most difficult issues in researching is determining proper sources.  Some sources can be full of useless information and others can be incredibly reliable and helpful in research or propelling your research forward, and it is imperative to be able to discern these types of sources. While blogs and newspapers can give you an insight into opinions on the case at hand, it is important to distinguish these from proper legal sources with solid and accurate information; however, opinion pieces can aid in your understanding of the background of a case or give direction to your research when you are uncertain of where to begin.

Overall, best of luck in your research, and do not hesitate to reach out to with any questions about the ICJ simulation at AMUN – research related or otherwise.

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