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Vatican City State Legal Research Guide

The purpose of this guide is to assist researchers in their search for information on the structure and organization of the temporal law of the Vatican City State (VCS).

Primary Sources

From the researcher’s perspective, the legal system of the VCS is best approached by examining the documents that established the nation and formed the constitutional basis for the world’s smallest nation state.  The most useful work for this purpose is Amos Peaslee, Constitutions of Nations, which provides a short summary of the nation’s legal composition, the text of the Lateran Treaty, extracts from the accompanying 1929 Concordat, the complete text of the six Fundamental Laws of 1929, and a short bibliography.

  • Amos Peaslee, Constitutions of Nations : The First Compilation in the English language of the Texts of the Constitutions of the Various Nations of the World (2d ed., 1956) (STACKS JF11 .P42 1956).

The “Vatican City” section by Philip Raworth in Blaustein and Blaustein (eds.), Constitutions of Dependencies and Territories, should be consulted for the 2001 Fundamental Law and the 1984 Concordat between the Holy See and the Italian Republic.  It should be noted that since this is treated as a “territory” by Blaustein and Blaustein there is no entry for the VCS or the Holy See in Blaustein and Flanz (eds.), Constitutions of the Countries of the World.

  • Philip Raworth, Constitutions of Dependencies and Territories  (Albert E. Blaustein & Phyllis M. Blaustein eds., 1998) (STACKS K3157.E5 C65 1998).

HeinOnline provides digital access to a number of the VCS fundamental laws in their World Constitutions Illustrated library.  In addition, that collection also includes commentaries, scholarly articles and bibliographies that might be of interest to those researching the jurisdiction.

Judge Kathryn J. DuFour Law Library / 3600 John McCormack Road N.E., Washington, DC 20064 / 202-319-5155