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United Nations: Finding UN Documents

Finding UN documents and information about the UN.

UN Document Symbols

UN documents often have a unique document symbol:

A/RES/34/14 (1979)

  • A = General Assembly: the first part indicates the issuing UN body. Other common symbols are S (Security Council) or E (Economic and Social Council)
  • RES = Resolution: the second part indicates the kind of document. Most "official" UN documents are resolutions.
  • 34 = Session Number: the session information for the UN body -- in this case, the 34th session of the General Assembly.
  • 14 = Document Number: the document number. This was the 14th resolution passed by the 34th session.
  • 1979 = Year: (optionally included)

For more information about interpreting document symbols, see theDag Hammarskjöld Library's Document Symbols Research Guide.

 

Types of UN Documents

  • Official Records are resolutions, meeting transcripts, and other "final" or "official" materials of a UN body. They get a document symbol (see above).
  • Masthead Documents are generally "draft" or "working" documents written by UN bodies or member states. Masthead Documents also get a document symbol. Some Masthead Documents get republished (eventually) as Official Records.
  • Sales Publications are UN publications that have been attractively formatted (photos, cover art) for sale. They may have a Sales Publication number, although this is NOT a UN document symbol.
  • Other Publications: the UN also issues a variety of other reports and documents, such as press releases, research guides, and so on. These documents do not have UN document symbols.

UN Document Databases

  • Full-text is generally 1993-present although some databases have selected older materials.
  • Citations are 1946-present (AccessUN) or 1979-present (UNBISNET).
  • For full text of material not available online, see Finding UN Documents in Print, below.

Finding UN Documents in Print

Many older UN publications are available by searching GEORGE for "United Nations" as an author and looking for individually cataloged titles. If you are looking for a resolution from the GA or Security Council, the following resources may be helpful:

The Library also has a portion of the United Nations Documents set from Readex in microfiche on the Lower Level. This set is indexed in AccessUN

League of Nations

The UN was preceded by the League of Nations (1920-1946). Information about the League:

Lauinger also has an extensive set of League documents in microfilm.

More Sources of UN Documents

UN Depository Library logoCan't find a UN document at GU? Try the Library of Congress, the closest official UN Depository Library.

The United Nations Information Centre in Washington also has copies of official records.

The Dag Hammarskjöld Library in New York has the most extensive collection of UN documents in the nation (and possibly the world). If you're trying to track down an elusive UN document, try their AskDAG service.