Additional Research Tools for Locating UN Documents

January 2, 2014

An earlier blog post documents the open-access and subscription online tools for tracking down UN documents: UNODS, UNBISNET and AccessUN, online access to the Readex United Nations Index of current and retrospective United Nations documents and publications from 1956 to present. 

These online sources aside, the law library microfiche collection includes the law library subset of the Readex UN documents collection (1981-2008). It features official records and working documents from five of the six principal organs, and documents from ad hoc and expert committees such as the International Law Commission and the UN Commission on International Trade Law. The University Microfiche Reading Room at SML has the more comprehensive set (1946-2006) which includes “Limited” and “Restricted” documents, from the main UN bodies: the General Assembly, Security Council, Economic and Social Council, Secretariat, Trusteeship Council and International Court of Justice.  Both sets include depository and non-depository materials.  

To use the microfiche sets, you must have the document symbol and the date of the document.  Use AccessUN to find or verify the document number. Then select the drawer with the year you need in the UN microfiche collection, then choose the appropriate organ (General Assembly, Security Council, etc.) and look for the symbol (located at the top right corner of the fiche).

To locate historic documents, additional reference tools and publications are available:

· United Nations Yearbook Collection, 1946- .  It has a subject index as well as resolution and decision index.  It also includes a legal bibliography and an index of U.N. documents at the end of each substantive section.

· U.N. Juridical Yearbook, 1962- .  It is useful for retrospective legal research but publication tends to be slow.  The last chapter of the yearbook includes a legal bibliography and a documents index.

· UN-I-QUE,  a bibliographic reference file database constructed by the Dag Hammarskjold Library to locate selective frequently-used documents, 1946 -  of a recurrent nature–annual/sessional reports of committees/commissions; monographic series; journals; annual publications; reports periodically/irregularly issued; etc.  It is particularly useful for tracking down publications which have gone through numerous title changes.

Indexes to UN documents and publications helpful for retrospective legal research and compiling drafting histories of legal instruments:

·         1946-49                Check List of United Nations Documents

·         1950-73                United Nations Document Index

·         1974-78                UNDEX: United Nations Document Index

o   Series A: subject index.

o   Series B: country index. Covers years from 1977-1978

o   Series C: cumulative index.

·         1984-                  UNDOC: Current Index.  A quarterly publication, Part I includes a list of documents and name and title indexes. Part II is a subject index.

· Indexes to Proceedings (of the General Assembly, ECOSOC, Trusteeship Council, and Security Council) consist of information about speeches, voting, what happened in the annual meetings.  It has a subject index to all the documents issued by the main UN organs during a particular session/year and an index to speeches delivered before the forum in question during a particular session/year.

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