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.

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.

The UN documentation provides insight into the actions of the organs

  • Decisions are found in resolutions, decisions, presidental statements
  • Activities are found in reports of the Secretary-General, adminstrators of funds and programmes, heads of specialized agencies, reports of subsidiary bodies.
  • Negotiations and voting can be found in meeting records and reports of subsidiary bodies.
  • Positions of member states of the UN can be found in meeting records and letters.

Every UN document is assigned a document symbol, which is the easiest way to find a document.

Document symbols and 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 NB: All documents are not available online.

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 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

Index to Proceedings (ITP) of the General Assembly

https://library.un.org/index-proceedings/general-assembly

The Index to Proceedings (ITP) of the General Assembly is an annual bibliographic guide to the proceedings and documentation of the General Assembly. It is divided into two parts: a subject index and an index to speeches.

The Index to Proceedings also includes: 

  • Sessional information: Lists officers and provides information on the rules of procedure and on the republication of the resolutions and decisions; 
  • Check-list of meetings: Lists the plenary meetings of the Assembly and the meetings of the Main Committees;
  • Agenda: Lists items considered by and brought before the General Assembly together with the subject headings under which they appear in the Subject index;
  • Subject index: Provides topical access to General Assembly documentation arranged alphabetically by agenda subjects and lists documents submitted under each agenda item, the meetings at which the items were considered, and the action taken on each item, if any;
  • List of documents: Lists documents issued in connection with the session and provides information on the republication of provisional documents in the printed Supplements to Official Records;
  • Reports of the Main and procedural committees: Provides a listing by subject of the reports on the items discussed in the committees;
  • Resolutions adopted during the session: Indicates the number and title of each resolution, the meeting number and date, the agenda item number, and the vote where appropriate;
  • Voting chart of resolutions: Lists resolutions adopted by recorded or roll-call vote, indicating the vote of each Member State.

For more information about these valuable research tools produced by the UN Dag Hammarskjöld Library, we refer you to the following  resources: https://ask.un.org/faq/14542 & http://research.un.org/en/docs/resources

In addition, our library offers an extensive research guide about all the General Assembly documentation: http://research.un.org/en/docs/ga

Our searchable list of "Member States on the Record" also offers a quick access  to information about membership and statements of Member States at the UN: https://library.un.org/unms

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.

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.

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, in which UN documents in print, covering the period 1946-2010 are included, as well as access to electronic and print resources for more recent documents.

UN archive. A list of the full UN documentation in print, from 1946 until 1992, that you can find in the Dag Hammarskjöld and Law library collection.

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.