Law Library Stacks

The Law Library of Congress produces reports for members of Congress and others.  The legal research reports listed below by topic provide commentary and recommended resources on issues and events. Learn more

Banking and Finance

France: New Law on Banking and Financial Regulation

In the summer of 2007, at the onset of the gravest financial crisis since World War II, the first priority of the French government was to try to limit the consequences for the French economy and to encourage measures to prevent a repetition. This report discusses the draft law adopted by Parliament on October 22, 2010. (Feb. 2010)

Regulation of Bitcoin in Selected Jurisdictions

This report surveys forty foreign jurisdictions and the European Union, reporting on any regulations or statements from central banks or government offices on the handling of bitcoins as well as any significant use of bitcoins in business transactions. Topics covered include whether bitcoins are recognized as legal tender, the possibility of negative impacts on the national currency, concerns about fraud, and how transactions using the Bitcoin system are viewed by tax authorities. (Jan. 2014; updated June 2014)

Constitutional Issues

China: Real Property Law

Individuals cannot privately own land in China but may obtain transferrable land-use rights for a number of years for a fee. Currently, the maximum term for urban land-use rights granted for residential purposes is 70 years. In addition, individuals can privately own residential houses and apartments on the land (“home ownership”), although not the land on which the buildings are situated. Both urban land-use rights and home ownership are subject to registration. (Oct. 2014; updated Mar. 2015)

Constitutional Provisions on National and Religious Identity in Selected Countries

This report contains information on provisions in constitutions and other founding documents specifying an ethnic or religious identity for an Asian or European country. (Dec. 2014)

Egypt: Legal Framework for Arbitration

Arbitration is becoming an increasingly important means of settling investment and commercial disputes in Egypt.  The country’s unrest over the past three years spurred the introduction of quicker and more flexible mechanisms for the settlement of investment disputes.  Arbitration Law No. 27 of 1994 provides for the rules governing the formation and validity of arbitration agreements, arbitrability of legal disputes, composition of the arbitral tribunal, arbitral proceedings, and enforcement of an arbitral award. (Aug. 2014)

Egypt: Mohammed Morsi Trial

On June 30, 2013, millions of Egyptians took to the streets to protest what they considered the failed policies of former president Mohammed Morsi and on July 3 the army removed the president from power to stand trial on criminal charges. This report provides a brief overview of the trial, which began on September 1, 2013. It discusses the alleged facts of the case, the charges Morsi faces, and sanctions that could be imposed on Morsi and his aides unders the Egyptian Penal Code if they are convicted. (Apr. 2014)

Firearms-Control Legislation and Policy

This report examines the legal approach to gun control—including ownership and possession, licensing and registration, background checks, training, storage, weapons bans, and related issues—in Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Egypt, Germany, Great Britain, Israel, Japan, Lebanon, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, the Russian Federation, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, and the European Union. A Comparative Analysis and Bibliography of Selected English-Language Materials on the subject are included. (Feb. 2013)

Habeas Corpus Rights 

This report analyzes the right available to persons in Canada, Egypt, France, Germany, Iraq, Italy, Japan, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Syria, the United Kingdom, and Yemen to challenge the legality of their arrest or detention. (Mar. 2009)

Honduras: Constitutional Law Issues

This page discusses the legal authority for removal of an elected president in Honduras, and its application to the case against President José Manuel Zelaya Rosales, in which the Honduran Congress interpreted the power to disapprove of the conduct of the President to encompass the power to remove him from office. (Aug. 2009)

Honduran Constitutional Crisis: Applicable Authorities

A list of authorities prepared by the staff of the Law Library of Congress identifies Honduran legal documents considered relevant to the events of the summer of 2009, which resulted in the removal of a sitting President. (Nov. 2009)

The Impact of Foreign Law on Domestic Judgments

Foreign laws influence domestic jurisprudence in different ways, from use in domestic innovations to the enhancement of discussions on national matters. This report analyzes the influence (or lack thereof) of foreign laws on domestic jurisprudence in Argentina, Brazil, Canada, China, England and Wales, France, Germany, India, Israel, Mexico, New Zealand, Nicaragua, and South Africa. (Mar. 2010)

Inheritance Laws in the 19th and 20th Centuries

This report summarizes inheritance law in the 19th and 20th centuries in France, Germany, and the United States. French law of the period reflected the egalitarian system of inheritance brought about by the French Revolution, even after reforms instituted by the Napoleonic Code. Nineteenth-century German law was splintered into territorial regimes characterized by differentiated succession rules for the nobility versus the peasantry—a distinction that continued to some extent even after the unified German Civil Code became effective in 1900. Early inheritance law in the United States, premised on English law, was a matter of state law (as it is today) and thus varied, but during the period in question became much more egalitarian with regard to the inheritance rights of women. (Mar. 2015)

Iraq: Legal History and Traditions

This page highlights moments in the history of the governance of the area formerly known as Mesopotamia that may be seen as significant with respect to the legal heritage and traditions of Iraq. (June 2004)

Iraq: Saddam Hussein Trial

Find information on the tribunal and its historical background with articles related to key legal issues.  It includes print and Web citations to relevant treaties, laws, and references on the subject. (July 2007)

Israel: 2013 Government Composition and Coalition Agreements

This report discusses the agreements made by Binyamin Netanyahu’s Likud Yisrael Beiteinu faction with the Hatnua, Yesh Atid, and Habayit Hayehudi parties in order to form a coalition government following Israel’s 2013 parliamentary elections. Besides establishing guidelines for adopting government policies, the agreements focus on forming a ministerial committee for peace negotiations with the Palestinians and reforming the country’s military, civilian national service, and electoral system. (Apr. 2013)

Japan: Legal Responses to the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011

On March 11, 2011, the Great East Japan Earthquake struck, causing a tsunami and a nuclear crisis. Many issues arose as a result of the earthquake, for which the national government made exceptions and eventually created a new system, which amended laws, regulations, and standards; created a new reconstruction agency and nuclear regulatory agency; and enacted a new tsunami countermeasure law. (Sept. 2013)

Lebanon: Constitutional Law and the Political Rights of Religious Communities

This report discusses Lebanese Constitutional law and the political rights of religious communities, including individual rights and freedoms; separation of powers; the rule of law, autonomous churches, and religious representation; the National Pact of 1943; the Taef Agreement; and the Doha Agreement. (Apr. 2012)

Malian Rules of Judicial Ethics: A Comparative Study

This report examines the legislation governing judicial conduct in Mali, as compared to equivalent legislation in Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal, Burkina Faso, and Benin. Each of these countries has a specific statute governing the condition of judges, but Mali stands out as being the only country with a code of judicial ethics. (Sept. 2014)

Pakistan: Crisis in the Judiciary

Find information and analysis of the suspension and subsequent reinstatement of the Chief Justice of Pakistan. (Apr. 2007)

Pakistan: Proclamation of Emergency

On November 3, 2007, General Pervez Musharraf, then Chief of Army Staff and the President of Pakistan, issued a Proclamation of Emergency in Pakistan. This page presents an analysis of the constitutionality of the Proclamation, along with links to related topics. (Nov. 2007)

The Parot Doctrine and the European Court of Human Rights

In 2006, the Supreme Court of Spain adopted the so-called “Parot Doctrine” in which it established that sentence reductions for prison benefits, including remission for work performed, was to apply to each sentence individually and not to the maximum term. The Parot Doctrine was recently challenged before the European Court of Human Rights and upheld as in violation of the European Convention of Human Rights. (Mar. 2014)

Right to Peaceful Assembly

Freedom of peaceful assembly is a recognized right under international human rights law. This report provides a comparative review of one aspect of this right: whether advance notification or authorization is required for an assembly to take place under the law of France, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The report also reviews the relevant case law of the European Court of Human Rights. (Oct. 2014)

Police Weapons in Selected Jurisdictions

This report examines the weapons and equipment generally at the disposal of law enforcement officers in several countries around the world. It also provides, for each of these countries, a brief overview of the rules governing the use of weapons by law enforcement officers. Precise and reliable information on the weapons and equipment of some countries’ police forces was often difficult to find. (Sept. 2014)

Sentencing Guidelines

Sentencing guidelines in the common law countries of Australia, England and Wales, India, South Africa, and Uganda vary significantly. England and Wales have a Sentencing Council that develops offense-specific guidelines that the courts must follow, while Uganda’s Supreme Court has developed guidelines that are advisory only. In India and Australia, no formal guidelines exist and judges retain wide discretion in sentencing, but both countries have mechanisms in place to provide general guidance—in Australia through state legislation and in India through a series of court decisions that identify relevant sentencing factors. (Apr. 2014)

United States: The Constitution

Assembled here are books, articles, and congressional testimony regarding separation of power issues in the United States: constitutional interpretation, executive privilege, military tribunals, national security whistleblowers, presidential inherent powers, presidential signing statements, second amendment, state secrets privilege, war powers, and, war powers resolution.

United States: Supreme Court Nominations

This page provides links to selected resources, nomination documents, and Web resources related to the nomination process.

Back to Top

Corruption and Money Laundering

Antigua and Barbuda: History of Corruption and the Stanford Case

The collapse of R. Allen Stanford’s Ponzi scheme, which used Antigua and Barbuda as a base of operations, has raised questions about the history of corruption in that country’s banking system. There is evidence of Antiguan banks being used for illegal purposes prior to 2000, but in the absence of local prosecutions, little firm evidence of corruption. (Jan. 2011)

United Kingdom: Bribery Act 2010 - Anti-Corruption Legislation with Significant Jurisdictional Reach

This report discusses the enactment in the United Kingdom of the Bribery Act 2010, which replaces the old and fragmented legal structure where bribery was criminalized under the common law and the Prevention of Corruption Acts 1889–1916. The objective of the new Act, which came into force on July 1, 2011, is to provide modern legislation dealing with the increasingly sophisticated, cross-border use of bribery and to make the prosecution of such crimes easier. (Mar. 2011)

Back to Top

Education, Family, and Children's Rights

Adoption Law: Turkey and the United States

This report discusses the intercountry adoption systems employed by Turkey and the United States. The individual country surveys reveal that both countries are parties to the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption, though Turkish adoptions are governed by national law, while US adoption procedures are left to the states. Otherwise, both countries require probationary periods before adoptions are finalized, as well as the consent of the biological parents and the children involved, with certain exceptions. In both countries the adoption must be determined to be in the best interests of the child and adopted children obtain all rights of biological children, including inheritance rights. (PDF, 160KB) (May 2013)

Children's Rights

The national and international laws and practices are detailed and analyzed for sixteen nations including Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Greece, Iran, Israel, Japan, Lebanon, Mexico, Nicaragua, Russia, and the United Kingdom (England and Wales). (Aug. 2007)

The Education of Non-Native Language Speaking Children

This report discusses programs for the education of school-age, non-native language speakers in the European Union, France, Israel, Japan and United Kingdom (England). (Apr. 2009)

Laws on Children Residing with Parents in Prison

This report provides information on select international and regional measures and the laws of 97 jurisdictions from around the world that relate to allowing children to reside in prison with an incarcerated parent. Most of the countries surveyed impose specific age limits for a child’s admission into and length of stay in prison. Additionally, most of jurisdictions surveyed require that prisons that admit children meet certain standards. (July 2014)

Back to Top


Campaign Finance

This report examines campaign finance laws, including those governing the length of the campaign period, funding sources and disclosure requirements, restrictions on contributions and expenditures, and free speech implications of such restrictions, in Australia, France, Germany, Israel, and the United Kingdom. (May 2009)

Lebanon: Presidential Election and the Conflicting Constitutional Interpretations

Lebanon may face its first major constitutional crisis since its creation in 1920, following World War I in which the Ottoman Empire lost its Arab provinces to the Allied Forces. This page discusses the approaching crisis and provides links to related information. (Oct. 2007)

New Zealand: General Elections

This report provides information on the conduct of general elections in New Zealand. It includes discussion of the “mixed member proportional” electoral system, voter registration and eligibility rules, voting processes, the existence of separate electoral districts and an electoral roll for Māori voters, campaign finance and advertising laws, and responsibilities for electoral administration and oversight. (Nov. 2011)

Nigeria: Election Laws

In preparation for the 2011 elections, Nigeria made various changes to laws governing elections, mainly the Electoral Act and the Constitution. (Apr. 2011)

Russia: Parliamentary Elections

On December 2, 2007, elections for the State Duma (lower house of the legislature) were held in Russia. For the first time in Russian history, all 450 parliamentary seats were divided among representatives of political parties elected by federal and regional party lists under a proportional electoral system. This page presents a report on the topic. (Nov. 2007)

United Kingdom: General Election

This page includes a discussion of how general elections are held in the United Kingdom; information on voting criteria, processes, and oversight; privacy concerns related to the electoral register; multilingual ballots; campaign financing; and the possibility of a "hung Parliament." (May 2010)

United States: Citizens United v. FEC and the Future of Federal Campaign Finance Reform

This page discusses the U.S. Supreme Court case of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which will test the constitutionality of important elements of federal campaign finance legislation.

Back to Top

Government Spending

Bond Requirements in a Procurement Protest Procedure

This report contains information on 21 countries on the question of whether a bond, deposit, or fee is required in order to protest procedure in government procurement. The majority of countries included in this report require the payment of fees for an administrative review. These fees can be forfeited if the claim is found to be frivolous. (June 2014)

Foreign Aid Regulation

This report outlines foreign aid allocation in the European Union as well as in Australia, Brazil, China, Finland, France, Germany, India, Israel, Japan, Kuwait, New Zealand, Norway, the Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. (Mar. 2012)

Government Procurement Law and Policy

This report discusses the implementation of government procurement agreements, including the World Trade Organization Plurilateral Agreement on Government Procurement (WTO-GPA), and the domestic laws that regulate government procurement in Brazil, Canada, China, the European Union, India, Japan, and the Russian Federation. It includes a comparative summary. (Mar. 2010)

Great Britian: Welfare Reform Act 2012

This report provides an overview of the Welfare Reform Act 2012, the most substantive legislative change in the British welfare system since the 1940s. (May 2012)

National Funding of Road Infrastructure

This report examines the funding of roads and highways in Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, England and Wales, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, South Africa, and Sweden. It provides a description of the infrastructure in the jurisdiction, information on the ownership and responsibility of the roads, and taxes or other ways of collecting money to fund the nation’s infrastructure. If applicable, a discussion of reforms or new initiatives is examined. (Mar. 2014)

Stimulus Plans: Recent Developments in Selected Countries

This page includes a series of reports summarizing recent developments in economic stimulus packages in selected foreign jurisdictions, such as Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, the European Union, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, the Russian Federation, Singapore, South Africa, Sweden, Taiwan, and the United Kingdom. (Mar. 2009)

Back to Top

Government Systems

Cuba: Legal Implications of Castro's Resignation

This page discusses recent developments and legal implications related to Castro’s resignation in 2008. (Feb. 2008)

Egypt: Former President Hosni Mubarak Trials

These reports discuss the charges against and trials involving former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and his family members. A report on the pending charges discusses the potential penalties for those charges and the applicable burden of proof. A status update is provided discussing the current status of the charges, investigations, and trials. (June 2011; June 2014)

Lebanon: The Hariri Assassination

The investigation and potential prosecution of those involved in the assassination of Rafiq Hariri, former Prime Minister of Lebanon, could become a case study in the rapid development of international criminal law.  In addressing such issues, the Law Library of Congress provides information and legal analysis reflecting the actual state of international law. (June 2007)

Pakistan: Musharraf’s Resignation

This page discusses the events leading up to the crisis in Pakistan following General Pervez Musharraf's resignation from the presidency in 2008, the election of Asif Ali Zardari less than a month later, and related issues. Links are provided to related topics. (Oct. 2008)

Back to Top

Healthcare, Safety, and Bioethics

Abortion Legislation in Europe

This report summarizing laws on abortion in selected European countries shows diverse approaches to the regulation of abortion in Europe. A majority of the surveyed countries allow abortion upon the woman’s request in the early weeks of pregnancy, and allow abortion under specified circumstances in later periods. A comparative summary with maps is included. (Jan. 2015)

Approval of Medical Devices

This report describes the approval process for medical devices in the European Union and fifteen countries, and also indicates whether or not an expedited approval procedure is available. In many nations, particularly those influenced by the EU, part of the review process is conducted not by the government but by private, independent organizations called “notified bodies.” In most of the countries in the survey, medical devices are categorized based on the risks associated with their use, and the approval process varies by category. (Sept. 2014)

Bioethics Legislation in Selected Countries

Countries around the world are facing questions about how to balance developments in various areas of biotechnology with concerns about ethics, human health and safety, and the environment. This report examines bioethics-related international instruments and bioethics legislation in ten countries: the United Kingdom, Germany, Japan, China, Israel, India, Kenya, New Zealand, Brazil and Russia.(Oct. 2012)

Child Restraint and Seatbelt Regulations

This report contains citations to the laws on seat belt use in Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Bahamas, Brazil, Canada, China, Cyprus, Egypt, England and Wales, Fiji, Ghana, Indonesia, Kiribati, Malta, Nauru, Netherlands, New Zealand, Oman, Philippines, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, and Vietnam, with information on provisions concerning children where available. (Apr. 2014)

Israel: Reproduction and Abortion: Law and Policy

This report analyzes Israel's approach to reproductive care and discusses the governing law as well as the allocation of funding for this purpose. (Feb. 2012)

Legal Responses to Health Emergencies

This report contains discussions of the regulations addressing health emergencies in 25 jurisdictions, including countries from six continents, the European Union, and the World Health Organization. All surveys included in this report review government structures tasked with delivering public health protection, relevant legislative frameworks for addressing health emergencies, and the powers of government institutions in times of health crises and their ability to mitigate the consequences of such crises. Analyses of the regulation of such issues as disease surveillance and notification systems are also provided. A comparative summary and a bibliography are included. (Feb 2015)

Medical Malpractice Liability

This report analyzes medical malpractice liability regulations in Canada, England and Wales, Germany, and India. While these countries approach the issue of medical liability differently, there are some commonalities in terms of scope and implementation procedures. The report analyzes the countries’ medical malpractice liability insurance programs, grounds for medical malpractice liability, types and amounts of damages awarded by the courts, and certain procedural details. (June 2009)

Sex Selection & Abortion

This report provides an analysis of laws on the subject of sex selection and abortion in Australia, Canada, India, and New Zealand. (June 2009)

United States: State Legislation on Comprehensive Health Care Coverage

As the national debate on health care continues, state laws provide small-scale models of legislation that might be implemented on a larger scale. This page provides an overview of related legislation in Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, and Vermont as well as links to state codes. (July 2009)

Back to Top

Immigration, Nationality, and Citizenship

Citizenship Based on Birth in Country

The following short report includes information on citizenship laws of selected member countries of the European Union. It specifically addresses whether those countries automatically confer citizenship on children born in their territory. (May 2012)

Citizenship Pathways and Border Protection

This report describes the different legal approaches to immigration, citizenship, and border control taken by Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, Spain, and the United Kingdom. The report also discusses the European Union’s border control and visa regime for the Schengen area. A summary that compares and contrasts specific elements of the legal systems surveyed is included. (Mar. 2013)

Family Reunification Laws

This report surveys 71 foreign countries, plus the United States and the European Union, on the issue of whether their laws permit legal immigrants to bring family members into the country for purposes of residence. For many of the jurisdictions covered, the information provided focuses exclusively on family reunification for permanent residents. However, for a number of jurisdictions, information is also provided on family reunification for citizens/nationals or temporary residents. A bibliography of selected international and comparative law sources is provided. (July 2014)

Guest Worker Programs

This report discusses guest worker programs in fourteen countries: Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, Israel, Japan, Mexico, Norway, the Russian Federation, South Korea, Spain, the United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom. It also provides information on the European Union’s Proposal for a Directive on Seasonal Employment, the Association Agreement between the European Union and Turkey regarding migrants of Turkish origin, and the Multilateral Framework of the International Labour Organization on the admission of guest workers. A bibliography is provided. (Feb. 2013)

Investor Visas

This report examines types of visas and visa requirements granted to people who invest in a foreign country. Austria, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain do not specify a particular amount a foreign investor must invest in the country to be considered for a visa (temporary or permanent). Australia, Bulgaria, Canada, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, Portugal, and the United Kingdom specify a particular amount that must be invested in order to qualify for a visa. (Aug. 2013)

Legal Status of Refugees: Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, and Iraq

Many Arabic-speaking countries in recent years have experienced a significant influx of refugees with Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, and Jordan hosting the largest numbers of refugees. This report provides a general overview of the legal measures adopted by these four countries to regulate the status of refugees and the types of benefits they offer to refugees. (Dec. 2013)

Netherlands: Major Overhaul of Immigration Policies in 2013

This report discusses the features of the Modern Migration Policy and National Visa Acts in the Netherlands, both of which took effect in June 2013. The former focuses on strengthening sponsorship rules and accelerating immigration procedures, while the latter introduces new visa provisions. In addition, an amendment to the Aliens Decree 2000, effective in October 2012, makes other changes in Dutch immigration policy pertaining to restrictions on family reunification, the criminalization of illegal residence, and the strengthening of public order and national security. (Apr. 2013)

Points-Based Immigration Systems

This report discusses the points-based selection processes used by Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom within the context of the immigration systems of these countries. The individual country surveys reveal that Australia operates a hybrid system for skilled migration that involves employer sponsorship and a points-based visa program that was revised in 2012. The UK’s points-based program, introduced in 2003, provides for five different immigrant tiers. Canada uses a points-based selection process for its Federal Skilled Workers Program, which is one of several programs within its “economic class” of immigration. The specific criteria considered within the points-based programs of the countries surveyed vary but can include such factors as the applicant’s age, educational background, language abilities, experience, employment arrangements, and general adaptability, among others. All of the countries surveyed appear to emphasize labor market needs in their current selection processes. (Mar. 2013)

United States: Fourteenth Amendment and Citizenship

Law Library of Congress page on the Fourteenth Amendment and the history of the citizenship clause.

Back to Top

Indigenous and Cultural Property

Cyprus: Destruction of Cultural Property

This report concerns the international legal framework relevant to the destruction of cultural property in the northern part of Cyprus. (Apr. 2009)

New Zealand: Mâori Culture and Intellectual Property Law

In New Zealand, Māori claims regarding rights to “guardianship” of their cultural knowledge have been expressed in the context of the guarantees in the Treaty of Waitangi. (Dec. 2010)

Preservation of Historical Cemeteries

This report provides an overview of laws, regulations, and court decisions governing the preservation of historic cemeteries in Brazil, China, Egypt, England, Eritrea, France, Germany, Greece, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, Lebanon, Mexico, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Russia, Spain, and the United States.  The country surveys reveal a wide variety of legal and regulatory approaches to this issue and the involvement of an array of actors at various jurisdictional levels. (Apr. 2014) 

Repatriation of Historic Human Remains

This report concerns laws and policies governing the return of indigenous remains and cultural items in Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom. (July 2009)

Back to Top

Intellectual Property Rights and Ownership

Protection of Trade Secrets

The national laws and practices are detailed and analyzed for how Brazil, China, India, Russia, and South Africa protect and regulate trade secrets, including available remedies. (Aug. 2013)

Back to Top


Family and Medical Leave Benefits Provided by the Military

Military personnel receive family and medical leave benefits as part of their service in Denmark, Israel, Norway, and Sweden. All countries provide leave following the birth or adoption or a child and caring for a sick child. Leave may be paid or unpaid. Israel distinguishes between permanent-service personnel and conscripts when awarding leave benefits. (June 2014)

Israel: Supreme Court Decision Invalidating the Law on Haredi Military Draft Postponement

This report analyzes the background and current status of Israel's law regarding deferment of compulsory military service, and how it has affected the Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) community in particular. (Mar. 2012)

Japan: Article 9 of the Constitution

Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution renounces war and prohibits Japan from maintaining the war potential. However, for maintaining the security of Japan and international peacekeeping, Japan gradually increased its defense capability and more people have begun to accept the idea of amending article 9 of the Constitution. (Feb. 2006)

Military Justice

These two reports examine the military justice systems of Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Israel, and the United Kingdom. The first report, “Adjudication of Sexual Offenses,” addresses how sexual misconduct is treated within the military justice systems of Australia, Canada, Germany, Israel, and the United Kingdom. Most of these countries incorporate independent elements and have moved towards more flexibility in the choice of civilian or military courts for adjudications. The second report, “France: Military Justice System,” provides a general overview of the military justice system in France, which aims to treat military personnel in the same manner as ordinary civilians with some exceptions. (July 2013)

Back to Top

Minority Rights

Constitutional Provisions on Women's Equality

In many countries of the world, the national constitution includes language that proclaims women's equality, states anti-discrimination policies, or both. This report, presented in list format, offers the jurisdictions that include such language in their constitution, as well as direct citations to where it can be found. (July 2011)

Greece: Status of Minorities

Greece is a largely homogenous country that treats ethnic and religious minorities differently depending on the recognition status and type of the minority. Certain rights for minorities are safeguarded including the right of persons belonging to minorities to practice their own religion, culture, and language. Greece also safeguards the right of religious communities to associate and acquire legal personality, however only for recognized minorities. Greece has taken steps to fight discrimination based on race, ethnic origin, religion, or based on belief in the areas of employment, occupation, social protection, and services. (Oct. 2012)

Laws on Homosexuality in African Nations

This report summarizes the treatment of homosexuality in the criminal law of 49 African nations.  Of the jurisdictions surveyed, only South Africa affirmatively permits same-sex marriage and only Nigeria and Uganda explicitly prohibit gay rights advocacy. (Feb. 2014)

Back to Top

Plants, Animals, and the Environment

Crude Oil Royalty Rates

This chart lists royalty rates for crude oil production in selected countries where production occurs on lands owned or controlled in whole or part by the national government. The countries selected include leading oil-producing countries that impose royalties; countries that do not impose royalties are excluded. While there are other fiscal instruments used to raise revenue from oil production, this chart focuses solely on royalties. (Jan. 2015)

Oil Spill Liability and Regulatory Regime

This report discusses the scope of liability of offshore oil facility operators for oil spills and the regulatory regime that monitors such facilities in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Norway, and the United Kingdom. Specifically, information on the governing constitutional principles, potential civil and criminal liabilities, insurance requirements, safety standards, and the role of regulatory bodies in the countries surveyed is provided. (June 2010)

Plant Protection in Selected Countries: Edelweiss

Austria, France, Germany, India, Slovenia, and Switzerland are countries in which edelweiss, the alpine wildflower, grows and receives protection. This report uses the example of edelweiss, which is in danger of becoming extinct because of climate change, to illustrate how conservation laws are applied in the selected jurisdictions, the interplay between protection at the national and local levels, the complexity of the governing frameworks, and the differences in the extent of protection afforded in the various jurisdictions. (Oct. 2012)

Regulations Concerning the Private Possession of Big Cats

This report surveys the different legal approaches taken by twenty-one countries and the European Union in regulating the private possession of big cats. All the countries surveyed are members of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Among them, China, India, Malaysia, Russia, Thailand, and Vietnam are tiger range countries where tigers still exist in the wild. China, India, and Russia were found to designate wild tigers as state property. (June 2013)

Restrictions on Genetically Modified Organisms

This report discusses the legislation of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and genetically modified (GM) plants and foods in Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Egypt, England and Wales, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Japan, Lebanon, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, the Russian Federation, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden, and the United States. The European Union and International Protocols are also discussed. This report summarizes enacted laws on the cultivation and sale of GMOs, as well as public opinion on GM products. (Mar. 2014)

Sustainability Criteria for Bio-fuels

This report analyzes the legislative and regulatory framework surrounding sustainability criteria for biofuels and proposals for related studies in Australia, France, Germany, and Switzerland. The discussion covers taxation and grant incentive programs, quotas for the addition of biofuels, and European Union guidance on the topic while referencing the specific laws and regulations of the countries surveyed. (Jan. 2008)

Sweden: Slaughter of Domestic Animals

In Sweden the slaughter of domestic animals must be done following sedation of the animal. This requirement was first adopted in 1937 by the Act on the Slaughter of Domestic Animals and entered into force in 1938. The suffering of the animal was referenced as the main concern and remains so today. Critics of the current law argue that it infringes on the religious freedoms of Swedish citizens, most notably Jews and Muslims. (May 2014)

United Kingdom: Measures to Implement MARPOL Convention Annex VI, Chapter 4

The UK is currently implementing Annex VI, Chapter 4, of the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL Convention). The UK government has amended the Merchant Shipping Act and has met with industry stakeholders and EU representatives to explore ways to ensure compliance with the new regulations with minimal cost and regulation, secure EU financing to mitigate the significant investment costs for shipowners and ports, and guarantee fair and consistent enforcement of these regulations throughout the EU so that UK ports are not unfairly disadvantaged. (June 2014)

Water Law

This report summarizes legislation concerning the agricultural use of water in nineteen countries in Latin America, the Middle East, and Central Asia. It includes a summary of the laws that govern the agricultural use of water, the government authorities in charge of the administration of water for agriculture, requirements for licenses to use water for this purpose, and relevant guidelines on conservation and quality.  In addition, some of the surveys provide information on intercountry disputes over the use of water. A comparative summary is included. (Oct. 2010)

Wildlife Trafficking and Poaching

This report describes the regulatory framework relating to wildlife trafficking and poaching in seven African jurisdictions: Botswana, Central African Republic, Kenya, Mozambique, South Africa, and Tanzania. Included in the report are discussions of laws that criminalize poaching and trafficking in wildlife, the penalties imposed for such crimes, and the state institutions tasked with enforcing the laws. (Jan. 2013)

Back to Top

Privacy Rights and Data Protection

Biometric Data Retention for Passport Applicants and Holders

This table compares the regulation of biometric data obtained in connection with passport applications and the preservation of such data in fifteen selected countries. (Mar. 2014)

European Union: ECJ Invalidates Data Retention Directive

In April 2014, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) declared the Data Retention Directive invalid. The Court held that the Directive entailed serious interference with the rights to privacy and personal data protection of individuals guaranteed by the Charter of Fundamental Rights, and also failed to establish limits on access by competent national authorities. Because the ECJ did not specify otherwise, the Directive is void and EU Members must comply with the ECJ’s judgment. (June 2014)

Foreign Intelligence Gathering Laws

This report contains information on laws regulating the collection of intelligence in the European Union, United Kingdom, France, Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, and Sweden. The report details how EU Members States control activities of their intelligence agencies and what restrictions are imposed on information collection.  All EU Member States follow EU legislation on personal data protection, which is a part of the common European Union responsibility. A comparative summary is available. (Dec. 2014)

Online Privacy Law

These reports describe the data protection laws of the European Union and of Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. They describe the legal framework for the collection, use, and transfer of data, and examine whether existing laws are adequate to deal with online privacy in an era of rapid technological development and globalization. (June 2012; EU report updated May 2014)


Back to Top

Religion and the Law

France: Highlights Of Parliamentary Report On The Wearing Of The Full Veil (Burqa)

On January 26, 2010, the President of the National Assembly published on the Assembly website the report prepared by the Parliamentary Commission to Study the Wearing of the Full Veil in France. This page presents selected highlights from the report. (Feb. 2010)

Indonesia: Inter-Religious Marriage

This page includes information about laws in Indonesia that affect the ability of people from different religious backgrounds to marry. (July 2010)

International Relations under Islamic Law (Shari’a): Dar al-Harb (House of War) vs. Dar al-Islam (House of Islam)

This report provides an overview of the Islamic concepts of Dar al-Harb (House of War), Dar al-Islam (House of Peace), and Dar al-Aman (House of Safety). (Mar. 2012)

Israel: Criminal and Ethical Aspects of Municipal Rabbis' Letter Concerning the Sale or Rental of Property in Israel to Non-Jews

This report analyzes the criminal and ethical aspects of a letter published by fifty municipal rabbis in Israel alleging that Jewish law prohibits the sale or rental of property in Israel to non-Jews. (Dec. 2010)

Laws Criminalizing Apostasy in Selected Jurisdictions

This report surveys the apostasy laws of twenty-three countries in Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, and Southeast Asia and primarily focuses on jurisdictions that make apostasy, or renouncing one’s religion, a capital offense. However, several countries that have adopted broadly-defined laws on blasphemy and insult to religion, which could potentially be used to prosecute persons for apostasy, have also been included, as well as one country that expressly prohibits extrajudicial punishment for allegations of apostasy. (May 2014)

Lebanon: Constitutional Law and the Political Rights of Religious Communities

The Lebanese constitution of 1926, as amended, is still in force today. Its main feature is the representation given to the various religious communities in public employment, the formation of government, and the selection of the legislature. It guarantees basic individual rights and freedoms and provides for a parliamentary form of government. (Dec. 2010)

The Role of Islamic Law in Tunisia’s Constitution and Legislation Post-Arab Spring

This report discusses the role played by Islamic law in drafting the new Tunisian Constitution and passing domestic legislation following the Arab Spring civil uprisings. Heated contention characterized debates from February 2012 through early 2013 between Islamic political groups and secular movements over the role of Islamic law in Tunisia’s Constitution and domestic legislation, the prohibition of blasphemy in both the Constitution and the Penal Code, and the constitutional and legal rights of women. Ultimately, the Islamic political parties failed in their attempts to implement a stronger role for Islamic law as a result of fierce opposition from secular forces not only in the Constituent Assembly itself, but also in the streets of the country in the form of public protests. (Mar. 2011)

What is Sharia Law?

This article provides a general overview of Sharia law to those interested in learning about foreign legal systems in general or Sharia law in particular. Differences and similarites between Sharia and Western Law are discussed. (June 2011)

Back to Top

War Crimes and Terrorism

Australia: Terrorism Laws

Australia has enacted several legislative mechanisms for addressing terrorism concerns and protecting the public from terrorist acts. These reports discuss Control Orders, Preventative Detention Orders and Prohibited Contact Orders, and Questioning Warrants and Questioning and Detention Warrants. (Oct. 2008)

Crimes Against Humanity

This report surveys statutes and criminal code provisions concerning crimes against humanity in 52 jurisdictions, including the European Union. It includes a summary of the applicable national criminal or penal laws. Some of the countries surveyed include a discussion of Rome Statute and International Criminal Court. (Apr. 2010)

Israel: Legal Aspects of Prisoner Exchanges

Israel has engaged in prisoner-swap deals numerous times throughout its history. The release of members of organizations it considers to be terrorist organizations and of those convicted of terrorism-related offenses has been increasingly contested by the Israeli public. In response to members of victims’ families and victims’ organizations petitions, the Supreme Court has established requirements for mandatory prior notice and disclosure of the names of prisoners whose release is being considered, as well as procedures for the public to object to release. The Court, however, refused to review the merits of governmental decisions to release prisoners and refused to order the government to adopt any fixed rules for future negotiations. (Nov. 2014)

Israel: Legality of the Decision to Release Convicted Palestinians in the Context of Peace Negotiations

The High Court of Justice in Israel decided that the Israeli government had the authority to enter into political negotiations that resulted in the release of Palestinian prisoners. Explicit authorization in primary legislation and a full-quorum government vote were not needed. Additionally, the rights of the crime victims to object to the release are not fully applicable. (Aug. 2013)

Israel: Participation of Victims of Terrorism in Criminal Appeals

This report discusses the laws in Israel that relate to the ability of victims of terrorism offenses to participate in criminal trials and appeals. (Mar. 2013)

Japan: WWII POW and Forced Labor Compensation Cases

This page discusses Japanese post-WWII plaintiffs’ compensation claims against the Japanese government, which were rejected under the theory of war damages. The page also notes what the Japanese government paid to other countries to compensate for damages related to WWII. Additional links are provided on various aspects related to these cases. (Sept. 2008)

Norway: Norwegian Criminal Law and the July 22, 2011, Massacre

This report examines some of the current legal provisions in Norwegian law that may apply in the Anders Breivik case and concludes with a look at some of the possible social outcomes that have been posited. (Aug. 2011)

Russia: Legal Aspect of War in Georgia

This report reviews legal aspects of Russia’s invasion of Georgia in August 2008 and Russia’s recognition of Georgia’s separatist enclaves’ independence. The report includes an analysis of relevant aspects of international law and Russian domestic law, as well as an evaluation of Russia’s legal justification for its actions. The report also provides historic background of the conflict and commentaries on related laws. (Aug. 2008)

Treatment of Foreign Fighters in Selected Jurisdictions

This report contains information on provisions in place or under consideration by the United Nations (UN), the European Union, and 73 countries on the treatment of individuals who join and fight for terrorist organizations in foreign countries. A number of countries are currently considering action following the September 2014 adoption of a UN Security Council resolution expressing concern about the threat of foreign terrorist fighters. Many nations already have punishments applicable to such fighters, including imprisonment and/or loss of citizenship. In addition to the report on these jurisdictions, two maps have been included to illustrate the findings. (Dec. 2014)

United Kingdom: Pre-Charge Detention for Terrorist Suspects

This page discusses the United Kingdom’s ongoing efforts to balance national security concerns and protection of civil liberties as it faces the issue of terrorism. Links are provided to related topics. (Oct. 2008)

Back to Top

Last Updated: 05/12/2015