University Libraries
United Nations Collection Guide
Table of Contents:

United Nations Collections
Because no single source of United Nations documents and publications is comprehensive, our collection is really a set of several overlapping collections. Some are only available in the University Libraries, some have limited access due to licensing restrictions and some are freely available online. In-depth research usually requires using some or all of these collections.
  • The Depository Collection
    We are a full United Nations Depository library. This means that the UN will send to the library printed copies of all of its official records, publications and masthead documents that are designated as "depository". Because many UN documents and publications are not included in the deposit, we supplement the depository materials with the microfiche collection described below. Contents:
    • Official Records of main organs of the United Nations
    • most sales publications
    • the United Nations Treaty Series
    • all periodicals normally available by subscription
    • masthead documents (i.e., working documents) of the regional commission located in the area of the library
    • all masthead documents and publications placed in general distribution, except preliminary versions of verbatim records of plenary meetings of the Security Council.
    • Depository Collection Location:
      TC Wilson Library Gov Pub (UN Docs) South and West Walls
    • Depository Collection Shelf Arrangement
  • The Readex Microfiche Collection
    This collection provides ready access to microfiche copies of UN documents covering the years 1946-1980 and 1986 to date. The microfiche collection includes virtually every document from the UN main bodies (depository or not), including "Limited" and "Restricted" documents which are generally not distributed in print. Sales publications are not included.
  • United Nations Treaty Collection Authentication Required
    Includes all multilateral treaties deposited with the Secretary-General of the United Nations and those formerly deposited with the League of Nations - their latest status and a link to the full texts; bilateral and multilateral treaties registered with and published by the United Nations Secretariat in accordance with Article 102 up to a certain date - Detailed treaty references and full texts in all authentic languages; recently deposited multilateral treaties that have been deposited but not yet published - available for viewing and downloading in some or all of their authentic languages.
  • Official Documents System of the United Nations
    ODS covers all types of official United Nations documentation, beginning in 1993. Older UN documents are, however, added to the system on a daily basis. ODS also provides access to the resolutions of the General Assembly, Security Council, Economic and Social Council and the Trusteeship Council from 1946 onwards. The system does not contain press releases, UN sales publications, the United Nations Treaty Series or information brochures issued by the Department of Public Information.
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Background Resources
  • Charter of the United Nations
    Delegates of 50 nations met at San Francisco between April 25 and June 26, 1945 and agreed upon the UN Charter, the founding document of the United Nations.
  • Chronology and Fact Book of the United Nations
    An irregular supplement to the Annual Review of United Nations Affairs, this publication includes a chronological survey of UN-related events, reproduces the UN Charter, rules of procedure for each organ, and membership tables for each of the UN bodies.
    Check MNCAT Record for Location and Availability
  • Directory of United Nations Documentary and Archival Sources
    Good introduction to the documentation system of the United Nations and basic bibliographic tools. Extensive annotated bibliography of major publications within the United Nations system of organizations.
    Check MNCAT Record for Location and Availability
  • Encyclopedia of the United Nations and International Relations
    Extremely useful encyclopedia of information related to IGO's or international governmental organization, including definitions of key terms, biographies, and the descriptions and selected texts of major international treaties, conventions and agreements.
    Check MNCAT Record for Location and Availability
  • United Nations Handbook
    Annual list of UN organs, agencies, Specialized Agencies, regional development banks. Descriptions include functions, structure, current membership and activities.
    Check MNCAT Record for Location and Availability
  • United Nations Organizational Chart
    The Charter established six principal organs of the United Nations: the General Assembly, the Security Council, the Economic and Social Council, the Trusteeship Council, the International Court of Justice, and the Secretariat. The United Nations family, however, is much larger, encompassing 15 agencies and several programs and bodies.
  • Permanent Missions to the United Nations
    A mission to the UN is an office of a member or non-member observer group that facilitates communication between the member or observer and the UN and other missions. This publication is published semiannually and lists members of permanent missions to UN Headquarters, including member countries, countries with observer status, and other international governmental organizations. Also includes listing of current membership of the Security Council, Economic and Social Council, International Court of Justice, and the Trusteeship Council. The website is a compilation of only those missions with Web pages.
    Check MNCAT Record for Location and Availability
  • Yearbook of the United Nations
    Covers the UN aspect of international issues such as development policy, natural resources, energy and environment, transnational corporations, economic trends, population and human settlement, human health, and regional outlooks for Africa, the Americas, Asia and the Pacific, Europe, and the Middle East. Also included are agenda, legal, budgetary and charter aspects, and directories of agencies and member organizations.
    Check MNCAT Record for Location and Availability
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Current Resources
  • Annual Review of United Nations Affairs
    Presents the key United Nations documents that highlight the work of the principal UN organs each year, focusing annually on one theme of particular relevance.
    Check MNCAT Record for Location and Availability
  • Journal of the United Nations
    Daily listing of meetings and agendas at UN Headquarters in New York, brief summaries of the previous day's meetings (often including the results of votes and reference to internal documents), announcements, and forthcoming meetings. Previous issues are in Government Publications in the UN microfiche collection and filed just before the Secretariat section.
  • Newspapers and Periodicals
    Newspapers and periodicals report on United Nations activities in New York and abroad. The New York Times, the Times (London), Le Monde (Paris), the Economist, and Le Monde Diplomatique include significant coverage of the United Nations. These and other major newspapers and periodicals are indexed in the following indexes.
    • LexisNexis Academic Authentication Required
      LexisNexis Academic is a full text databases of business, legal, news, magazines, and wire services. It includes sources for accounting, environmental studies, health and medical care, government and politics, people, and consumer information. Legal publications include law journals, federal and state statutes, codes, cases, agency rules & regulations, patents and legal reference materials.
    • PAIS International Authentication Required
      Since its establishment in 1914, PAIS (Public Affairs Information Service) has chronicled issues in the public debate through highly selective coverage of a wide variety of sources, including references to monographs, periodical articles, notes and announcements, government documents, policy reports and analytics. Addition of the Archive to our current PAIS International database extends comprehensive access to public and social policy information.
      Check MNCAT Record for Location and Availability
  • UN News Centre
    Maintained by the UN's Department of Public Information with searchable press releases, links to the press releases of the UN's specialized agencies, full-text access to some of the UN's Web periodicals, and documents about current world events.
  • UN Wire
    Free service sponsored by the United Nations Foundation and Better World Fund, featuring daily summaries of key news stories from around the world. Has direct links to full-text, audio, video and additional sources of informationon the Internet. Starts from January 1999.
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Indexes and Databases
  • Online Indexes
    • AccessUN Authentication Required
      AccessUN provides access to bibliographic citations of current and retrospective United Nations documents and publications including:
      • the UN collections of the Government Publications Library
      • articles appearing in UN periodicals
      • the bilateral and multilateral treaties in the UN Treaty Series
      • full text documents from the:
        • General Assembly - resolutions from 1981-
        • Security Council - resolutions from 1974-
        • Economic and Social Council - resolutions from 1982-
    • AccessUNDP
      Indexes United Nations Development Programme Project Reports issued and held by UN headquarters between the years 1972-1998. Provides access to evaluative, technical and terminal reports submitted to the UN by numerous participating and executing agencies. The Government Publications Library holds the corresponding full-text microfiche collection from NewsBank/Readex, which also produced the index.
    • UNBISnet
      UNBISnet, the UN Bibliographic Information System, is the primary index to United Nations documentation published since 1979, or earlier for selected major documents, by the United Nations Dag Hammarskjold Library and the Library of the UN Office at Geneva. It also includes the catalogue of the collections of the Dag Hammarskjold Library.
      Included are:
      • Links to full text of resolutions adopted by the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council and the Security Council, going back to 1946
      • the voting records for all resolutions which were adopted by the General Assembly beginning with its 1st session (1946-) and the Security Council beginning with its 1st year (1946-)
      • citations to speeches made in the General Assembly beginning with its 38th session (1983-), the Security Council beginning with its 38th year (1983-), the Economic and Social Council beginning in 1983 and the Trusteeship Council beginning with its 15th special session (1982)
    • UNESDOC/UNESBIB
      Bibliographic records and full text access to UNESCO documents and publications in the Organization's fields of competence (education, science, culture, social and human sciences, communication, information and informatics), since 1946.
    • UN-I-QUE: United Nations Info Quest
      Designed to provide quick subject access to selected UN materials, especially series, from 1946 onwards. UN-I-QUE includes:
      - annual/sessional reports of committees/commissions;
      - annual publications;
      - reports periodically/irregularly issued;
      - reports of major conferences;
      - statements in the General Debate; etc.
  • Print Indexes (in reverse chronological order)
    • UNDEX
      This index served as the general index to UN publishing between the Documents Index (item 4 below) and UNDOC (item 1 above). Issued in three series. Series A: Subject Index. (1970-1978)
      Series B: Country Index. (1970-1978)
      Series C: List of Documents Issued. Cumulative (1974-1979).
      Check MNCAT Record for Location and Availability
    • United Nations Documents Index
      From 1998, checklists and indexes of documents and publications received by the Dag Hammarskjold Library, major reports and studies, resolutions and decisions, draft resolutions, meeting records, and miscellaneous documents. Author, title and subject indexes.
      Check MNCAT Record for Location and Availability
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Official Records
Official Records, always identified as such on the title page, constitute the primary documents submitted to or issued by major UN organs at a given session or during a particular year. They consist of
  • meeting records;
  • resolutions;
  • reports of major organs, committees and commissions as well as the budget and financial reports (each issued as a separately numbered "Supplement" and comprehensively listed in UN-I-QUE); and
  • reprints of other important documents (issued sessionally as "Annexes" and organized by agenda item number in the case of the General Assembly or quarterly "Supplements" listed by document symbol in the case of the Security Council).
Official Records are also produced for some of the major conferences (e.g., United Nations Diplomatic Conference of Plenipotentiaries on the Establishment of an International Criminal Court).
  • Official Records of the Economic and Social Council
    Index to the Proceedings: Check MNCAT Record
  • Official Records of the Security Council
    Index to the Proceedings: Check MNCAT Record
    • Location(s): 1946 - 2001: TC Wilson Library Gov Pub (UN Docs) SCOR/sess./#
    2002 - present: TC Wilson Library Gov Pub (UN Docs) SCOR/year/#
  • Official Records of the Trusteeship Council
    Index to the Proceedings: Check MNCAT Record
    • Location(s): TC Wilson Library Gov Pub (UN Docs) TCOR/sess./#
  • Official Records Online
    • UN Documentation Centre
      Full-text, PDF files of recent major documents produced by the six principal organs of the UN, including resolutions of the General Assembly and the Security Council and Reports of the Secretary-General.
  • Help
    • UN-I-QUE: United Nations Info Quest
      Designed to provide quick subject access to selected UN materials, especially series, from 1946 onwards. UN-I-QUE includes:
      - annual/sessional reports of committees/commissions;
      - annual publications;
      - reports periodically/irregularly issued;
      - reports of major conferences;
      - statements in the General Debate; etc.
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Masthead Documents
"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."
Source: ST/AI/189/Add.3/Rev.2, para. 2 / Document Symbols.

Formerly known as "mimeographed documents", the masthead documents are by far the largest category of publication. They include materials designed to serve as a basis for discussion at UN meetings: reports, memoranda, studies, working papers, agendas, draft and final resolutions, decisions, and meeting records.

Many masthead documents are reprinted in a variety of other sources such as the Official Records, Yearbook of the United Nations, and the Annual Review of United Nations Affairs. Masthead documents are available from the Depository Collection for the current session, Readex Microfiche Collection from 1984- and the Official Documents System from 1993. Masthead documents are also indexed in the Indexes to the Official Records as well as the indexes listed in the Indexes section of this guide.
  • Annual Review of United Nations Affairs
    Presents the key United Nations documents that highlight the work of the principal UN organs each year, focusing annually on one theme of particular relevance.
    Check MNCAT Record for Location and Availability
  • Yearbook of the United Nations
    Covers the UN aspect of international issues such as development policy, natural resources, energy and environment, transnational corporations, economic trends, population and human settlement, human health, and regional outlooks for Africa, the Americas, Asia and the Pacific, Europe, and the Middle East. Also included are agenda, legal, budgetary and charter aspects, and directories of agencies and member organizations.
    Check MNCAT Record for Location and Availability
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Publications
"The term 'United Nations publication' refers to any written material which is issued by or for the United Nations to the general public, normally under the authorization of the Publications Board."
(Source: ST/AI/189/Add.3/Rev.2, para. 4 / Document Symbols.

A subset of publications are "sales publications" which is a highly selective category of publications of general/broad interest which the United Nations offers for sale in order to give them the widest possible distribution outside the UN system. Also included in this category are periodicals (journals and magazines).

In general publications, sales or not, are indexed in the resources listed in the Indexes section of this guide.
  • UN System Pathfinder
    The purpose of this pathfinder by the United Nations is to identify major publications of the organizations comprising the United Nations system. Materials were selected with a view to currency, relevance and usefulness. Global studies and reports, handbooks and guides, bibliographies and indices, international statistical publications, compilations of treaties, resolutions and documents as well as annual reports of UN bodies and specialized agencies are included. With few exceptions, publications of regional scope, such as those of the regional commissions, sessional and parliamentary documents, periodicals and periodical articles are excluded.
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Related Guides
  • UN Documentation: Research Guide
    This guide is designed for researchers and information professionals new to United Nations documentation. It provides an overview of the various types of documents and publications issued by the Organization (e.g, reports, resolutions, meeting records, sales publications, press releases) and gives guidance on how to work with them.
  • United Nations Subject Research Guides
    The Dag Hammarskj÷ld Library, the library at the UN headquarters in New York, has put together several subject-based research guides to UN materials. Subjects include human rights, UN reform and peacekeeping operations.


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