Conventions and Declarations

© United Nations

Striving to uphold the principles set forth in the Charter, the United Nations has adopted numerous declarations and resolutions.

Principles of the United Nations

The aim of the United Nations is to achieve the objectives stated in the Charter. Among these we find

  • peace and security
  • social and economic development
  • respect for human rights
  • international law.

To approach these goals, the UN has adopted a number of declarations and resolutions.

Article 102 of the UN Charter states that all treaties entered into force by member states of the United Nations are registered and published by the UN Secretariat.


Declarations are not legally binding but carry considerable moral force and serve as a clear indication of the commitments of the international community. Declarations often originate from resolutions adopted by the General Assemby. Some declarations later become conventions.


Conventions are binding formal agreements. When a convention is ratified in sufficient numbers, it enters into force and becomes legally binding on the states that have ratified and signed it.

  • To sign indicates the preparations for ratification.
  • To ratify confirms an agreement to be legally bound by the convention, with legislative changes taking place within a member state to adhere to the agreement at the domestic level. The process between signing and ratification may take several years. 
  • To accede means that a state accepts to become a party to a convention already negotiated and signed by other states.


Databases and Indexes

  • United Nations Treaty Collection contains a wealth of 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.
  • United Nations Treaty Series (UNTS) is a collection of treaties and international agreements, published since 1946, in accordance with Article 102 of the UN Charter.
  • See also: UN Treaty Collection : Overview.
  • Conventions and declarations can be retrieved from the UN Library online catalogue UNBISnet with links to full texts for recent years. Subject search can be performed using relevant terms from the UNBIS THESAURUS in combination with a search option for "type of material".     

Printed Indexes

  • References to all documents by subject area are published in the subject index of the United Nations Documents Index (online version UNBISnet).
  • A complete collection of indexes is held by the Dag Hammarskjöld Library, Uppsala, and the Libraries at UN Headquarters in New York and Geneva.
Copyright © 2014 | Dag Hammarskjöld Library | Latest update: 09/02/2017