International Law Classification

International Law Classification

International Law Classification in the Library of Congress

While the traditional “public international law” materials class in KZ, or occasionally in a “regional” schedule, materials on how public international law impacts national, local, or regional legal systems class with the subject, outside of KZ.

Before going further, it’s important to note the term “Private international law.” This is what most Americans refer to as “conflict of laws,” though in America this usually involves interstate rather than transnational issues. It deals with the question of what law to apply when people having a claim are from different jurisdictions and/or the matter affected by their claims is in a different jurisdiction. For example, in the simplest form, think of someone from Maryland who rents a car in the District of Columbia and crashes the car in Virginia-which jurisdiction’s law governs? Increasingly, treaties, rather than common law, govern many aspects of conflict of laws (a.k.a., private international law). In a world in which international transactions are increasingly common, one might argue that substantive law is subsuming the entire subject.

Whether you call it “conflict of law” or “private international law,” it never classes in KZ. Instead, it always classes in a national, regional, or comparative law number elsewhere in the K schedules.

Until around 2005, the Library of Congress Classification (LCC) combined both public international law and international relations in the JX schedule (which made sense a century ago). LCC then split the subjects, and KZ is now exclusively for public international law (including KZA for Law of the sea, and the recent additions for International criminal law).

However, most public international law does not class in KZ. To understand why, let’s look at the first few lines of the KZ schedule, which attempt to explain what belongs in KZ (quotations marqued).

  • “Class here works on legal principles recognized by nations, and rules governing conduct of nations” : Theoretical legal principles governing public international law class in KZ. Anything on law governing relations between sovereign states is exclusively KZ. But what of a legal principle or rule governing conduct of nations confined to a single region (such as legal principles recognized by the nations of the Middle East, but not necessarily by anyone else)? These probably class in KZ either with the subject or perhaps in the numbers for nations and regions as subjects in international law (KZ4110-KZ4825). Works on how public international law affects the rights of individuals, as opposed to the rights of nations, class
    outside of KZ (such as K3240 for human rights). Note that all schedules for national legal systems have a place for thestatus of public international law within the national legal system (e.g. KF4581).
  • “and their relations with one another, including supra-regional Intergovernmental Organizations (IGO’s) and the legal regimes governing such organizations” : However, an organization with a specialized-subject focus usually classes with the subject either in the K schedules if supra-regional (e.g. World Trade Organization in K4610) or in a regional
    schedule (e.g. North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) at KDZ944+). It only classes in KZ if the subject pertains to the matters of war and peace that were the traditional focus for public international law (e.g., regional and supra-regional collective security alliances such as North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) at KZ5925). The legal status of a general purpose regional organization goes with the region in a number captioned for regional organizations, e.g., KQE for regional African organizations such as the African Union in KQE721+. But, the commercial law standards of the Organisation pour l’harmonisation en Afrique du Droit des Affaires (OHADA) classes with the subject in KQC242 because its activities are limited to that specific subject area. The relationship between KJE and KJC is similar, but more complicated, because the European Union is evolving into a jurisdiction, but hasn’t quite reached it yet. LCC treats the European Union as a jurisdiction, unlike the Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH) and the LC Name Authority File (NAF), which do
    not recognize its existence as anything more than an international organization.
  • “Class here the sources of international law, i.e. the law of treaties, arbitral awards and judicial decisions of the international courts” : However, most works about treaties have a subject focus and class with the subject (e.g. Table K8, cutter .A34-A43). Judicial decisions class with the subject or the court, and most international courts and arbitration
    groups are either regional or subject-oriented, meaning they don’t class in KZ (even if the more glamorous ones such as the International Court of Justice class in KZ).
  • “For organizations with missions limited to a particular region, see the appropriate K subclass for the regional organization (e. g. KJE for the Council of Europe)” : The regional organizations with specific missions do not class in the organizational law sections (KQE, KJE, etc.). Instead, they class with the mission in the topical arrangements (KQC, KJC, etc.). The Americas are different because they don’t have a place for regional organizations. Thus, the Organization of American States (OAS) classes in KDZ1134, along with comparative law and uniform law. For example, the Council of Europe (classing in KJE121+) sponsors the European Court of Human Rights, which classes with the subject in KJC5138. The European Court of Human Rights produces a lot more legal literature than the Council of Europe. As a consequence of what is actually published, very little goes in the numbers for regional organizations, while much more goes in the numbers based on subject (except for the European Union, as mentioned above, which is confounding us by evolving into
    a geographic jurisdiction as opposed to a regional organization).
  • “For works on comparative and uniform law of two or more countries in different regions, and on private international law (Conflict of laws), see subclass K” : While comparative law is fairly easy to understand, uniform law is increasingly problematic. At one time, interest in uniform law came from academics and professional groups working independent of
    their governments. However, in the 21st century, governments often enter into agreements or treaties that unify previously private law. Such agreements are public international law, but they still class as private law in the K schedule (defined as “Comparative and uniform law” ). Public international law (such as treaties) pertaining to areas of law that are usually
    governed by national/domestic legal systems class with the jurisdiction, or as comparative law-not in KZ.

Sometimes, international organizations draw up treaties or conventions that are actually uniform laws for countries to ratify and implement. Well-known examples include the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (K639. A41989), the Kyoto protocol on global warming (K3593.A41992), and the United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods (K1028.3198). In a jurisdiction that has ratified such an agreement, it is part of the local legal system. So, even though it originated in manifestations of public international law, it classes with the jurisdiction or as comparative/uniform law in K, not in KZ.

International criminal law is a new and expanding subject. However, the same principles apply. Courts convened under international supra-regional authorities are in KZ, those convened by regional authorities class with the region, and those convened by an individual country class with the country. The substantive crimes recognized by international criminal law class in KZ, but the laws of specific countries on the same matter (and most international crimes have always been illegal under national laws) class with the jurisdiction. Thus, for example, we have KZ7220 for international law pertaining to terrorism, but also have numbers such as K5256, KF9430, and KQC982.T47 for terrorism as dealt with under the laws of individual countries.

To understand how all this relates, instead of the linear K-KZ way most of us look at LCC, we should understand it as a circle, with K and KZ being next to each other, because, as a whole, the two represent supra-national law. K and KZ are really a single de facto schedule, even if awkwardly structured (some would say contorted, based on how international, uniform, and comparative law have evolved over the last century). Together, the de facto K/KZ schedule represents the law that applies without regard to national boundaries, be it public international law in the traditional sense, or uniform multinational law, or comparative law that looks at law beyond the limits of national boundaries, or newly evolving areas of transnational law that are round pegs that don’t fit neatly into the 20th century (or earlier, much earlier) squares of LCC. [1]

See more about Law Classification here.

International Law Classification: JX Modified System

JX Modified System For International Law

International Law
1 Periodicals
24-38 Proceedings of Societies
60-238 Collections of Documents and Cases
323-1195 Collections of Documents and Treaties
1226-1299 Dictionaries, Encyclopedias, etc.
1301-1395.4 Foreign Relations (History, Comprehensive Works, Treatises)
1395.5 War Crimes – Trials and Treatises
1395.7-1403 Foreign Relations (20th Century)
1404-1595 Foreign Relations (by country )
1600-1900 Diplomacy
1901-1974 International Arbitration
1975.A League of Nations Material
1975.B International Labor Organizations
1976.A U.N. Documents & Publications
1976.B-1976.T U.N. Specialized Agencies Documents & Publications
1977 Works on the U.N., GATT/WTO
1980-1989 Regional Organizations (EEC, OAS, etc.)
1990-2000 Treatises on International Law in general
4000-6000 Treatises on specific topics in International Law



1. Based on Aaron Wolfe Kuperman writing.

See Also

References and Further Reading

About the Author/s and Reviewer/s

Author: international

Mentioned in these Entries

Classification of Law Materials, Classification schemes in the UK, Comparative Law Classification (Max Planck Institute), Diplomacy, General Division Classification (Max Planck Institute), Law Classification, Law Classification, Historical, League of Nations, Library of Congress Classification Class K, Moys Classification and Thesaurus for Legal Materials, Municipal law Classification (Max Planck Institute), Public International Law Classification (Max Planck Institute), Treaties, country.



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