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Researching the United Nations

Guide to the U.N. and to Finding U.N. Documents in the Legal Research Center

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How to get started locating U.N. documents using resources in the Legal Research Center. For this guide we will use examples from The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation (18th ed.) (2005) Rule 21.7: United Nations Sources.

Document symbols (e.g., U.N. Doc. A/56/PV.1 and U.N. Doc. A/RES/47/1) serve as unique identifiers for individual U.N. documents. Composed of capital letters and numbers, the first letter(s) indicates the main body of the UN (A/ is the General Assembly, E/ is ECOSOC, etc.). Secondary and tertiary symbols after the first slash indicate the sub-body within the main body (e.g. /CN is a commission, /WP is working party, etc.).

Bluebook Official Citations

Verbatim/Summary Records, Resolutions, and Reports:

Verbatim / summary meeting records, Resolutions, and Reports of major organs, are contained in the Official Records. Use the U.N. Doc. Symbol to locate your document. If you do not have a U.N. Doc. Symbol, use AccessUN (available at LRC Research Databases) to determine the appropriate identifier (e.g. U.N. Doc. A/56/PV.1).


  Verbatim / Summary Record

U.N. GAOR, 56th Sess., 1st plen. mtg at 3, U.N. Doc. A/56/PV.1 (Sept. 12, 2001).
21.7.2   Resolutions

G.A. Res. 47/1, ¶ 33, U.N. Doc. A/RES/47/1 (Sept. 22, 1992).



U.N. Econ. & Soc. Council [ECOSOC], Sub-Comm. on Prevention of Discrimination & Prot. of Minorities, Working Group on Minorities, Working Paper: Universal and Regional Mechanisms for Minority Protection, ¶ 17, U.N. Doc. E/CN.4/Sub.2/AC.5/1999/WP.6 (May 5, 1999) (prepared by Valdimir Kartashkin).

U.N. Press Releases:

Press Releases are issued by the Press Section of the U.N. Office of Public Information. Often they are the first pieces of available information about new developments.

21.7.4.       U.N. Press Releases and    Memoranda Press Release, Security Council, Security Council Takes Up Report on Diamonds, Arms in Sierra Leone; Expert Panel Says Council Sanctions Broken 'With Impunity,' U.N. Doc. SC/6997 (Jan. 25, 2001).

U.N. Yearbooks:

The Legal Research Center subscribes to a limited number of U.N. Yearbooks and Periodicals. Records for these publications can be found in SALLY. Some U.N. Yearbooks and Periodicals can also be found in the Foreign & Int'l Law Resources Database in HeinOnline.

21.7.9.    Yearbooks and Periodicals    Summary Records of the 1447th Meeting, [1977] 1 Y.B. Int'l L. Comm'n 175, U.N. Doc. A/CN.4/SER.A/1977.

U.N. Charter:

The U.N. Charter is available in print in the Legal Research Center using the following citations:

  • 59 Stat. 1031, found in United States Statutes at Large [LRC Reading Room KF50 .U52]
  • T.S. 993, found in Treaty Series [LRC Reading Room KZ172 .U54]
  • 3 Bevans 1153, found in Bevan's Treaties and other International Agreements of the United States of America, 1776-1949 [LRC Reading Room KZ236 1968]

United States Statutes at Large and Bevan's Treaties and other International Agreements are both available in the Treaties and Agreements Library in HeinOnline.

Cite the U.N. Charter as a constitution and give only the appropriate article and paragraph. The U.N. Charter is often mistakenly cited as an International Treaty, e.g. Charter of the United Nations, June 26, 1945, 59 Stat. 1031, T.S. 993, 3 Bevans 1153, entered into force Oct. 24, 1945.

21.7.11.    U.N. Charter.     U.N. Charter art. 2, para. 4.

U.N. Treaties:

Every international agreement entered into by a Member State of the United Nations must be registered with the U. N. Secretariat in accordance with Article 102 of the U. N. Charter. The United Nations Treaty Series, and its predecessor the League of Nations Treaty Series, reproduce the text of treaties and international agreements registered or filed and recorded with the Secretariat.

For multilateral treaties to which the U.S. is a party, Rule 21.4.5 requires a cite to a U.S. source from Rule 21.4.5(a)(i) and to the appropriate multilateral treaty source, such as U.N.T.S., if therein. If either cannot be obtained, cite one unofficial treaty source per Rule 21.4.5(c), such as I.L.M.

  • U.N.T.S. - United Nations Treaty Series (1946 - ) [LRC Reading Room & Microforms KZ172 .U54]
  • League of Nations Treaty Series (1920 - 46)[LRC Lower Level Microforms KZ170.5 .L43]
  • I.L.M. - International Legal Materials (1962 - ) [LRC Reading Room KZ64 .I58] and in the Treaties and Agreements Library in HeinOnline.
  • The United Nations Treaty Collection (USD community members only)
21.4.5     U.N. Treaties.    International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights art. 9, Dec. 19, 1966, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, 6 I.L.M. 368.