Guide To International Law Application in New Zealand
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A Guide to International Law Application in New Zealand

International law relates to situations and circumstances that go beyond the borders of countries. This may involve crimes committed in international waters, travel, trade, using armed force and upholding human rights.

New Zealand has been an active participant in international law, having been a founding member of the League of Nations in 1919. The country also played an active role as part of the new International Labour Organization and is a member of the United Nations (UN).

Whether you’re a seasoned attorney, starting law school, or a journalist doing some research, we’ve compiled a list of resources below that can help you navigate the tricky waters of international law. 

New Zealand Government Resources

A New Zealand Guide to International Law and its Sources

A report submitted by the Law Commission of New Zealand (LAWCOM) in 1996 to provide a basic guide on International Law Applications in New Zealand. The team of commissioners was led by Deputy President Hon. Justice Wallace.

International Treaty Making Guide (2020)

A guide for government agencies on the proper implementing practices and procedures for concluding international treaties and arrangements from the New Zealand Foreign Affairs & Trade (MFAT).

New Zealand Treaties Online
This database from The Ministry of Foreign Affairs allows users to search for and through Zealand Treaty Series (NZTS).

New Zealand Parliament – Papers Presented – New Zealand Treaty Series
This resource holds all the papers introduced to the House by Ministers or the Speaker since August 2002. These vary in nature from reports, statements of intent, international treaties, and regulations.

Includes New Zealand treaties presented to Parliament since 2002 and the National Interest Analysis report on the treaty.

New Zealand Double Taxation Agreements (IRD)
Provides current information about double taxation agreements.

Ministry for the Environment – Multilateral Environmental Agreements
Background information about international environmental conventions and New Zealand’s obligations.

The Application of International Law to State Activity in Cyberspace

A guide on the principles of implementing international laws online and New Zealand’s position on cybersecurity from the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.

  • New Zealand Hansard
  • Hansard or Parliamentary Debates is the official report of debate in the House of Representatives. It can be searched for discussions relating to international law applications in the country.

New Zealand Legislation
Provides a direct resource to access, download and read Acts, Bills, and Regulations for free.

Judicial Decisions Online
This searchable database contains  judgments and decisions from New Zealand Courts. 

Ministry of Justice International Human Rights Legislation

A brief statement from the New Zealand Ministry of Justice on the policies declared internationally by the United Nations on international human rights, including resources on indigenous peoples.

A New Zealand Perspective on International Law

The transcript of a speech given by Dr. Penelope Ridings at the Beeby Colloquium held on  November 25, 2020.

Academic Resources

These universities provide online libraries and databases with several resources to publications, both print and online. Account registration is required to access and temporary permission may also be secured. 

Victoria University of Wellington

Te Waharoa  

This is the searchable database of the Victoria University of Wellington that provides a vast archive of legal materials that includes electronic and print resources. Although it’s strictly for students or staff, you may contact the library for any urgent materials or links to external sources.

New Zealand Journal on Public and International Law

This journal is published by the New Zealand Centre for Public Law. It was first founded in 2003 and is available both in print and online. It accepts regular submissions and serves as a forum for public and international legal discussions. 

University of Waikato

The New Zealand Yearbook of International Law. (Vol. 1-14)

This annual publication serves as a reference for sourcing legal materials and commentary, focusing on issues relating to or concerning New Zealand, Antarctica and the Southern Ocean. It is “internationally refereed” and calls for submissions on a regular basis to be reviewed for publication. The full text is available as part of the Informit Humanities & Social Sciences Collection of the University of Waikato, but is available from other sources as well. 

​​An Introduction to International Criminal Law and Procedure by Robert Cryer

This book offers the basic concepts of international criminal law while challenging it with critical queries. It likewise provides a background on the institutions that enforce such laws.  

Basic Documents in International Law by Ian Brownlie

This is a curated set of fundamental documents for those studying international law, first published in 1967. Now on its sixth edition, it continues the tradition of providing the basics for students to study international law. 

Brownlie’s Principles of Public International Law by James Crawford

This ninth edition publication has served as a foundation of studying and applying international law for students. It likewise tackles how to handle relationships between states and other institutions on an international level. 

Cases and Materials on International Law by D.J. Harris and Sandesh Sivakumaran

As the title implies, this published work provides several case studies for students to study on the topic of International Law.

International Law by John P. Grant

This work has served as a basic framework and study guide for those just starting out on international law, but can also serve as a resource for refreshing one’s knowledge. 

Public International Law : A New Zealand Perspective

A journal that serves as basic reference for students that are researching, practicing or studying public international law.

International Legal Materials (Vol. 1-4)

A journal in full text with four volumes starting from 1962. Links to third party hosts are also provided.

University of Auckland

International Human Rights Reports (IHRR) from 1994
Primary source materials relating to human rights and documents handled by the United Nations and other international organisations.

International Law Reports (ILR) from 1919
A justis database that offers searchable access to international cases dating back to 1919.

Oxford Reports of International Law
Searchable database of international courts’ decisions pertaining to various international laws that include human rights law, criminal law, investment claims, trade law, and more. Also includes case reports created by experts that have been peer reviewed.

International Legal Materials (ILM) from 1962
A reproduction of crucial primary sources of international law that include judicial and arbitral decisions, international organisation resolutions and other documents.

HeinOnline – Law Journal Library
This is one of the largest collections of law reviews and journals. Although mostly containing documents from the United States and Canada, there are several titles from New Zealand as well.

HeinOnline – Foreign and International Law Resources Database
This database has legal periodicals and yearbooks from various countries, with a special focus on international law.

Westlaw International – World Journals
Contains various legal journals on international legal topics. 

Kluwer Law International – Journals
Articles in this collection include topics on arbitration, global trade, and aviation law just to name a few.

Index to Foreign Legal Periodicals
Contains well over 500 multilingual legal journals and is an important source for accessing articles from non-Anglo-American jurisdictions.

Index to Legal Periodicals and Books
This index of articles has law journals, law reviews, and yearbooks from New Zealand and other countries.

Articles & Excerpts

The following links are articles and excerpts from journals and published work that contain information relevant to the practice or enforcement of international laws in New Zealand.

Other Online Sources

NZLII – New Zealand Legal Information Institute
A joint project of the University of Otago Faculty of Law, University of Canterbury and the Australasian Legal Information Institute (AustLII). It has searchable cases, legislation and secondary materials compiled with the assistance of the Law School of Victoria University of Wellington. 

OHCHR Jurisprudence Database
Free online database of cases with decisions from the United Nations on several complaints and issues. Some of the treaty bodies included are the Human Rights Committee (CCPR), the Committee against Torture (CAT), the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), etc.


The Australian and New Zealand Society of International Law (ANZSIL) was founded in 1992. They release a quarterly newsletter that contains updates on international law events, activities, and practices in Australia, New Zealand and other regions.

Two case law databases with over 2,800 summaries of human rights decisions from domestic Commonwealth courts and from international human rights law.