UN classification system

Already, in 1946, when the United Nations was founded, it was realized that there was a need for a system for how all documents should be arranged. A classification system was created. Each UN document has therefore a unique symbol that indicates the organ, to which the document has been submitted. The symbol is found in the upper right hand corner or on the cover of the document. The General Assembly's very first document Outline of symbols for General Assembly and other United Nations documents (A/1) provides an overview of this system.

For immediate access online to a UN document: Type undocs.org/ followed by the document symbol in the address field of the webbrowser: Ex undocs.org/A/1

What is a document symbol?
  • Combination of numbers and letters.
  • Unique identifier for a UN document - one symbol for all languages.
  • Indicates the organ to which the document is submitted.

UN documents = Official records

Official records is a series of printed documents relating to the work of the main organs of the United Nations (General AssemblySecurity Council and Economic and Social Council). Some UN conferences may also have official records. Official records are defined in Regulations for the Control and Limitation of Documentation, ST/AI/189/Add.3/Rev.2.

Generally, official records consist of meeting protocols as well as resolutions and decisions from a UN organ. Reports and other selected documents are published as an annex or supplement to the UN entity concerned.

Find UN documents and reports

Retrieving UN documents and reports requires a comprehensive knowledge of the basic structure and processes of the United Nations organization. All documents reflect this structure, being issued by the UN entity where a certain question has been dealt with.

UN documents are issued by the core organization, whereas the specialized agencies have there own publishing and depository library system.

UN documents are important sources for studies and research. Today, UN documents are available online via databases or websites. Previously, reference was made to the printed documents distributed to depository libraries around the world. Dag Hammarskjöld and Law Library, Uppsala University is a UN depository library.

How do I find UN documents?
  • Start with DagDok. Consider where in the UN organization the document belongs, or what UN topic it deals with.
  • Search the Yearbook of the United Nations, which offers an overview with references to documents (document symbols).
  • ​Search UN databases relevant to the topic.
  • Visit the website of the organ, fund, programme or agency.
  • ​Search for documents in print at a UN depository library.

Dag Hammarskjöld and Law Library

The Dag Hammarskjöld and Law Library, Uppsala university is part of a worldwide network of UN depository libraries, which all offer free access to UN documents, reports, books and other printed and electronic sources. The United Nations considers free access to information a key democratic principle and is committed to making information about its programmes and operations available to the public. The library is the largest UN library in the Nordic countries.

Ett bibliotek i Dag Hammarskjölds anda : en historisk bakgrund by Bo Wirmark (2013). Revised edition 2019. A brief overview of the library and its establishment and history. In Swedish only.

DagDok - your guide to the UN documentation

DagDok is your entry to the United Nations and the UN documentation.

DagDok is the Dag Hammarskjöld and Law library guide to the UN documentation. It is your guide to finding UN reports and documents, background information about the UN system as well as areas of UN activity.

DagDok presents an overview of the entire UN organization with its main organs, funds, programmes and specialized agencies. Each page provides brief backgrouns information and links to different types of resources where you can find UN documents or publications.

Through DagDok you can also access information regarding the main areas of UN activity. You will fins links to key documents and reports as well as web portals and databases related to each subject area.

DagDok is available in Swedish and English.

Why using DagDok?

When you use DagDok you will find:

  • Background information to the UN organization as well as the areas of UN activitiy.
  • Links to UN documents and reports, and explanation to the the document symbols.
  • Links to relevant websites within the UN system.
  • Suggestions of databases and web portals for in-depth information relevant to the topic.

UN documents and publications in catalogues and databases

  • United Nations Digital Library offers UN documents and open access publications, UN voting data and speeches, UN maps, Content in 6+ languages. Replaces the traditional online catalogue UNBISnet.
  • UN iLibrary UN publications online covering different topics.
  • ODS full-text UN documents published from 1993 onward and scanned documents published between 1946 and 1993 in the official languages of the UN.
  • Daily list of documents (ODS). Documents published for the day, with full text links, can be found in the United Nations full text database ODS.
  • UNBIS Thesaurus a multilingual database of the controlled vocabulary used to describe UN documents.
  • Index to proceedings is an annual bibliographic guide to the proceedings and documentation of the major UN organs. The index includes:
    • a list of all documents
    • a comprehensive subject index
    • an index to speeches
    • a voting chart of resolutions
  • United Nations Documents Index (United Nations Digital Library) References to all documents by subject area are published. A collection of indexes is held by the Dag Hammarskjöld and Law Library, Uppsala, and the Libraries at UN Headquarters in New York and Geneva.
UN Documents available online

Human Rights, conventions and declaration

Current issues from the United Nations

  • UN News. Latest news from the United Nations.
  • In Focus. A quick guide with an overview of current UN issues, with links to statements, resolutions and other key resources.
  • UN Web TV. selected live programming of United Nations meetings and events as well as with pre-recorded video features and documentaries on various global issues.
  • UNRIC Library Newsletter, a monthly newsletter from the United Nations regional office in Brussels.