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Learn About UN Documentation
The Dag Hammersjold Library at the UN Headquarters in NY provides training events & materials to ensure researchers can make effective use of UN documentation.
- Video lecture (43 minutes) delivered by Susan Goard, Legal Librarian and Training Coordinator, providing overview of UN organization, documentation, document symbols, and databases and tools provided by the UN for finding documents.
- The Dag Hammarskjöld Library has created a series of research guides by subject that highlight key materials and provide links to UN Documentation, Policy & Guidance, Treaties (where appropriate), Books & Articles, Statistics, Web Sites, an FAQ, and more.
- There are also research guides that focus on the documentation of specific UN bodies, including the General Assembly, the Security Council, the Economic and Social Council, the Trusteeship Council, the International Court of Justice, and the Secretariat.
- Some guides are provided in all six official languages of the UN.
Northwestern University Libraries has been a Depository for the United Nations since 1947 and also owns documents and publications from the League of Nations. Current UN Documents are primarily online and available using resources linked to this guide. Publications (e.g. books, journals, and statistical annuals) are frequently online but may also be found using NUSearch. For projects requiring extensive, historical work with UN materials (which NUL has in print, microfiche, and online formats) contact firstname.lastname@example.org to make an appointment.
The United Nations system of documentation is as complex as the UN system of Organizations. The Regulations for the Control and Limitation of Documentation define documents and publications:
- "A document is a text submitted to a principal organ or a subsidiary organ of the United Nations for consideration by it, usually in connection with item(s) on its agenda."
- "''United Nations publication' refers to any written material which is issued by the United Nations to the general public."
UN Documents are in other words all the papers, meeting records, and official transcipts produced by the UN as it conducts its business. Many other international organizations -- for example the WTO, UNESCO, and the FAO -- also have systems of documentation.
UN Publications are material the UN publishes with the intent of informing the general public and the academic community about its work and issues it wishes to address.
United Nations Yearbook
Highly recommended as a starting point for historical research. The Yearbook provides a summary of UN deliberations and actions which include citations to relevant documents.
United Nations Official Documents System (ODS)
Full-text database of United Nations documents since 1993, as well as resolutions of the General Assembly, Security Council, Economic and Social Council and the Trusteeship from 1946.
Provides access to documents recording activities and decisions of the United Nations and its constituent bodies, e.g. General Assembly, Security Council, Economic and Social Council, etc. Searches will also retrieve information about publications from other UN organizations including the Environment Program, the Economic Commissions (African, Latin America, Asia, etc.) and much more. 1945-present.
United Nations Enterprise Search (Beta)
Search in the Official Document System (ODS) and more than 100 un.org websites i.e. www.un.org, the League of Nations archive, etc.
United Nations Digital Library
Search & locate official UN documents, speeches, voting records, and open access materials, as well as some maps that in the past were available through UNBISnet and the ODS.
Access to content through read view only.
The UN iLibrary provides access to books, magazines, and journals published by the UN Secretariat, agencies, funds, and programs dating back to 2013.
UN Meeting Coverage & Press Releases
From October 1995. Press Releases are not official documents but provide timely information on the current activities of the principal organs and subsidiary bodies, including summaries of meetings.
UN Member States: On The Record
Links to standard searches for Member States in UN databases. Searches available for each State include: key documents related to its membership in the UN; statements made before the principal organs; draft resolutions sponsored; periodic reports submitted on Human Rights conventions, and more.
Basic Facts about the United Nations
Call Number: ebook
Publication Date: 2014
This handbook sets forth the structure of the United Nations, how the Organization works, the main issues it deals with and its importance for people worldwide.
Encyclopedia of the United Nations by
Call Number: Main Library Reference 341.2303 O83e 2003
Publication Date: 2003, 3rd edition
Articles explain essential concepts and philosophies of the UN, peace-keeping activities, along with full coverage of every international treaty since the founding of the League of Nations, with generous quotations or full text for all key treaties, conventions, pacts, protocols, and declarations and every other area of activity the UN addresses.
Historical Dictionary of the United Nations by
Call Number: Main Library Reference 341.23 U577Zb
Publication Date: 1995-09-12
A comprehensive dictionary of the UN's various committees and organizations, its leaders, terms, policies, and major events in which the UN took part.
The United Nations System and Its Predecessors
Call Number: Law Library Law Library: Stacks I,MON JZ5566 .U54 1997
Publication Date: 1997
This two-volume set, reproducing key official documents in the history of the UN and League of Nations provides access to the legal bases of international organizations.
Unless noted otherwise created by the Dag Hammarskjold Library at the United Nations in New York.